Houndmouth Comes Alive

Mother Jones

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Jim Herrington

During the performance of a song called “Penitentiary” at San Francisco’s Outside Lands festival last month, Houndmouth’s curly-haired guitarist and vocalist Matt Myers was very deliberate in his annunciation of the first line: “I hid a batch in Fresco/I couldn’t score a job/So I did the next best thing and I learned how to rob.” He’s referring to a Dallas suburb—not to be mistaken for Frisco, San Francisco’s out-of-vogue nickname.

“I thought of changing it to Waco,” Myers told me after the set, lounging backstage with bandmates Katie Toupin (keys), Zak Appleby (bass), and Shane Cody (drums), and sipping bourbon from a mug. “I know people from San Francisco don’t like to hear their city called Frisco.”

From the Hills Below the City, Houndmouth’s debut on Rough Trade earlier this year, features a dozen tracks of corn-fed middle-American roots rock. In addition to the Frisco/Fresco thing, it name-drops at least a half-dozen southern states, towns, and cities. The songs are filled with stories about hittin’ the road, ridin’ the rails, gettin’ thrown in jail, and comin’ back home—dropping all nonessential “g”s.

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Houndmouth Comes Alive

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