The press release says: ?Philadephia-based Hoots & Hellmouth embodies a feisty, independent spirit churning out new music for old souls ? and while the emphasis has always been on the live experience, H&H?s eponymous debut studio album is shaping up to be one hell of an adventure?
While I say: they?re possibly the most trite sounding ?roots? band on the face of the planet.
Unfortunately Hoots & Hellmouth suffer from the delusion that an ability to play music equates to being able to make music. Case in point is the song: ?Two Hearts, a snake and concubine?.
?On my way I fell in love with a gypsy / and she was the only one who could calm me down / her fingers blessed our mandolin / her boots worn real high / her melodies stole the wind from my eyes.? I?m sorry, was that your eyes or your ass?
Another pearl is the chorus for ?Forks and Knives?, which hopes to get everyone in the tent revival mood with a chorus that goes: ?I?ll poke my eyes out, I?ll poke my eyes out?. Mmmm yeah, let?s all sing along to that.
I?m sure Rolling Stone will think H&H are the second coming, but try as I might to give credit for their effort, I cannot get past the fact that it all so depressingly pedestrian. Hoots & Hellmouth seem to think that by singing about riding in a boxcar they?ll convey the poetry of life on the road. Yet by making this assumption the only insight they really deliver is into privileged boys appropriating the hard-earned experiences of people thrust into difficult and very unromantic circumstances.
Despite all of the above, what I find most distasteful about this album is the white-bread production. Its personality is nauseatingly squeaky clean and neat, with every coarse sound retentively pressed flat and shinny so the music sits in your ears like a banal conversation. After listening to Hoots & Hellmouth?s live versions on Myspace I suspect this record is actually a saccharine substitute for the real band. Fans may be very disappointed. Me? I just wanted to listen to the Black Twig Pickers so I could be reminded of how this type of music should sound. 3/10 -- Sean Rabin (10 April, 2007)