Album Review: Little Neon Limelight by Houndmouth
Little Neon Limelight
If you haven’t heard of Houndmouth yet, it’s time to check out some serious talent. Formed in 2011, the Indiana based band just released their second album Little Neon Limelight last week and I haven’t been this excited about new music in a long time. Houndmouth is described as an alternative country band, but their sound ranges from song to song, showcasing unique vocals that blend and harmonize seamlessly with the instrumentals, all while incorporating extremely clever and well written, catchy lyrics. These guys are definitely on the cusp of breaking through to a bigger fanbase and I can’t wait for their talent to be recognized by more people.
Houndmouth members Matt Myers, Katie Toupin, Zak Appleby, and Shane Cody made some serious magic with Little Neon Limelight. This album boasts 11 great tracks that range from pop to folk and pack in raw grit and soul in between. The opening track, “Sedona” is one of my favorites, and I look forward to this one being overplayed on the radio once they take off. Mellow and poppy, you’ll feel a smile stretch across your face with the chorus and you can feel the band’s energy and happiness through the music and see it in the music video.
Watching them play in any YouTube video not only shows how much fun they all have together and that they have an undeniable love for each other and their music, but affirms how talented they are. They sound just as good in a little venue playing live as they do on the recorded tracks. (Which is how I’ve been listening to them before last week’s album launch.)
I get excited about each track on Little Neon Limelight because there is so much to love. Songs like “Otis” and “Gasoline” really showcase singer Katie Toupin’s incredible voice that goes high and low, soft and strong and pulls you into the story of each song. The way that they layer the male vocals with hers adds such a depth to their sound. She comes in perfectly to give another dimension of vocals to each of the songs. The four of them work so well together and know how to highlight and showcase each other’s talents when it comes to the vocals and building up to a great sound. It’s also really neat to hear them trade off the singing, like “By God” where Zak Appleby takes lead with a deeper, yet equally amazing voice, and “Gasoline” that lets you hear how enchanting Toupin’s voice is on its own. Thier flexibility allows them to change up their sound among their songs but still keep a signature Houndmouth vibe to throughout their tracks.
The album works, moving track to track even though there isn’t a perfect flow or structure moving from the pop to the rock to the soulful bluesy sounds. You get a taste of their multifaceted talent within a single track and when it switches to the next and you hear a completely different sound it is exciting to see how the same group of people can put together such a rich collection of songs.
“15 Years” and “By God” offer more of an up-tempo bluesy rock sound with some country twang. I can hear a little bit of Bob Dylan circa Highway 61 Revisited in the beginning of songs like “Say It” and in some of the instrumentals throughout the album using a little tambourine. To balance out the faster tracks, there’s songs like “Honey Slider” and “Darlin’” that slow things down like another one of my favorites, “For No One.” The band takes it down and focuses on an acoustic guitar sound leaving the words to really sink it with just Matt Myers singing and the rest of the band adding in occasional echoes that haunt each verse. The lyrics in this one really hit you and you can feel the passion and depth of emotions behind the vocals as he belts out my favorite lyric “I sing a song for you, but I sing for no one.”
Luckily, they’re singing for us and I can’t wait to see where this band goes. They just played at South by Southwest and will be headed to Bonnaroo in the summer. Overall, there isn’t a track on this list that I skip over and don’t like. The range of sounds that Houndmouth puts out leaves something for every taste in music to latch onto. I dare you not to have at least one of their songs stuck in your head after checking out Little Neon Limelight. Don’t forget to go back and give their first album, From the Hills Below the City, a listen too since it is equally as amazing.
Recommended if you like: Sheepdogs, Grouplove, Bob Dylan, The Middle East, Alabama Shakes, The Lumineers
Album Highlights: Sedona, For No One, Honey Slider
- 15 Years
- For No One
- Black Gold
- Honey Slider
- My Cousin Greg
- By God
- Say It