Many articles about the Philadelphia-based Hoots and Hellmouth
invariably mention the band’s punk influences.I definitely hear the three-part
harmonies, plentiful strings that include an upright bass, and old time foot
stomps but the punk influence really escapes me. That’s excellent, actually.
Every since the 2005 formation of Hoots & Hellmouth – named
for acoustic guitarists/frontmen Sean Hoots and Andrew “Hellmouth” Gray – the
band has dubbed its music “new music for old souls.” That they don’t tell you
is just how knee-slapping, finger snapping that music sounds. On the band’s
sophomore disc Holy Open Secret, the Americana style is flying
higher than the flag over the U.S. Capital. Not to be presumptuous, but this
has got to be what The Carter Family had in mind when they pondered the fate of
the country music genre they created.
Moving from an acoustic sound with plenty of gospel (“The Family
Band,”) into purer country (“Root of the Industry”) to a more folk-textured
sound (roll, Brandywine, roll) the duo shines.
This is the difference between artists that are comfortable with their
signature sounds and unafraid to dip into other genres and those that cling to
one genre like a barnacle for fear of becoming lost in the musical sea. Expect
to hear a lot more from Hoots and Hellmouth as this sophomore disc is widely
Standout Tracks: “The Holy Open
Secret,” “The Family Band” NANCY DUNHAM