July 5, 2007


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O’death, Head Home
Ernest Jenning Record Co., 2007
Hoots & Hellmouth, Hoots & Hellmouth
Mad Dragon Records, 2007

God’s will is being relayed by five or so richer-than-God Republicans who assure us He wants a McDonalds less than a minute’s drive from every mosque, so alt-rock heathens are advised to get to know Him a little. Here’s a choice of two Southern-fried gospel-alt abominations, one sniffing around for mandal-wearing Poindexters who get their rebellion from messing with the equalization of their Bright Eyes records, the other a barefoot, moonshine-gargling, rednecked cluster of man-stench who are, naturally, from Brooklyn. In general the songs on Hoots & Hellmouth’s debut begin with pensive acoustic guitars strumming out American folk accompanied by clipped Pete Seeger-style singing, but it can go anywhere from there, although usually it’s toward boxcar-hobo banjo-picking, Roy Clark country and unplugged Grateful Dead jamming. “Want on Nothing” and “This Hand is a Mighty Hand” are the gospel bullets on their résumé, tidy, legit clap-alongs inspired by Elvis. In the other corner sit O’death, who twist the screws on Civil War gospel and arena-country-rock until it bends to their Ozarks-inbred will, sounding like Neil Young one minute and a picket-fence-toothed Les Claypool the next. Coincidence of art, or a rock n roll olive branch offered to southern voters in the hope of getting them to cease messing up the country? O’death: A- Hoots & Hellmouth: BEric W. Saeger