Houndstooth, Ride Out the Dark

Mike Wolf

By Mike Wolf

on 07.16.13 in Reviews
A warm, immediate and inviting roots-tinged debut

This Portland, Oregon, quintet’s roots-tinged debut is warm, immediate and inviting — adjectives that could also describe Katie Bernstein’s sweetly aching vocals, which arrive with a built-in lilt and a cool sense of drama. But Houndstooth have the kind of vibrant group-mind that could take them far; every twanged guitar lead, heart-prodding chord change and Wurlitzer part feels effortlessly orchestrated into a gentle sweep of twilit melody and lasting affect. Still, it’s no slight to the band (lead guitarist John Gnorski deserves special mention) to focus on Bernstein, who mostly sounds compassionate but mixes a little graceful danger into her emotional well. “I can take the hit if you do the crime,” she sings on “Canary Island,” flitting and flirting within the space between innocence and its opposite. “Take a walk on this side for a little while.” If that’s how she rides out the dark, who wouldn’t want to ride along?