Courtesy of the artist
"Threadbare" encapsulates Hoots and Hellmouth's laid-back bluegrass vibe, but with enough grit to make it cathartic.
"Threadbare" encapsulates Hoots and Hellmouth's laid-back bluegrass vibe, but with enough grit to make it cathartic. Courtesy of the artist
Artist: Hoots and Hellmouth
CD: Face First in the Dirt EP
The Philadelphia group Hoots and Hellmouth twists up the many roots of Americana to create its signature sound — an ever-shifting blend of folk, rock, country, bluegrass and blues. The four gems on the band's newest EP, Face First in the Dirt, feature sounds across that stylistic spectrum. "Threadbare" encapsulates its laid-back bluegrass vibe, but with enough grit to make it worthy of the "Hellmouth" name.
Stretched to the point of breaking, worn until there isn't much left, "Threadbare" unravels easily. The band's fascination with localism and the rural existence come through in all of its songs, but "Threadbare" does more to acknowledge the difficulty of hard work. It's the kind of life where grass stains you green and is "wearing my soul out / over the knees ... till I'm threadbare."
Plinking banjo punctuates the vocal and instrumental texture, while the stomp-board of percussion is replaced with open, ringing toms. A momentary groaning breakdown for "Blood stain red / black lung lead" returns us to a complex interplay of instruments, percussion and vocals that's as cathartic as it is comforting: No one is alone in struggling to make do, and we all wear down sometimes.