Philadelphia's Hoots and Hellmouth combine a keen sense of songwriting with a roots-entwined, soul-music gumbo to produce one of the year's most promising debuts.
Shooting from the hip on the opening track, "Want on Nothing," the band lays down an easy-rocking shuffle courtesy of the duo-laden acoustic work of Sean Hoots and Andrew "Hellmouth" Gray. Poignant folk balladry steers it's way West by way of "Home in a Boxcar," the radio friendly composition mined from the heartland. A little bit of country and gospel permeates "Forks and Knives" and the rousing closer, "West of Where the Sun Goes Down." Mandolinist Rob Berliner and upright bassist Tim Celfo's instrumentation shines throughout, bringing warmth and spirit to Hoots and Hellmouth.
Roll the dice, bet on the tight odds and hold on to the reins of Hoots and Gray's winning eponymous disc. It's a hell of a ride into the rolling Americana sunset, replete with gothic allegory and the wind whipping spit of a brand new dawn.
Out now on Mad Dragon Records.