Houndmouth is an American alternative blues band from New Albany, Indiana formed in 2011, consisting of Matt Myers (guitar, vocals), Zak Appleby (bass, vocals), and Shane Cody (drums, vocals). Houndmouth formed in the summer of 2011. After playing locally in Louisville and Indiana, they performed at the SXSW music festival in March 2012 to promote their homemade self-titled EP. Geoff Travis, the head of Rough Trade was in the audience and offered a contract shortly after. In 2012, the band was named “Band Of The Week” by The Guardian. In 2013 Houndmouth’s debut album, From the Hills Below the City, was released by Rough Trade. This led to performances on Letterman, Conan, World Cafe, and several major festivals (ACL, Americana Music Festival, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, and Newport Folk Festival). SPIN and Esquire.com named Houndmouth a “must-see” band at Lollapalooza, and Garden & Gun said, “You’d be hard pressed to find a more effortless, well-crafted mix of roots and rock this year than the debut album from this Louisville quartet.”
On their new album Good For You, Houndmouth share a collection of songs set in places as far-flung as the Alamo and the Hudson River, each populated by a motley cast of characters: fairy-tale princesses and vampires, parking-lot lovers and wanna-be beauty queens. The fourth full-length from the Indiana-bred band—vocalist/guitarist Matthew Myers, drummer/vocalist Shane Cody, and bassist/vocalist Zak Appleby—the result is a lovingly gathered catalogue of those wild and fleeting moments that stay lodged in our hearts forever, taking on a dreamlike resonance as years go by.
Produced by Brad Cook (Waxahatchee, Hiss Golden Messenger) and mixed by Jon Ashley (The War on Drugs, B.J. Barham), Good For You came to life at Houndmouth’s longtime headquarters, a 19th-century shotgun-style house decked out in gold wallpaper and crystal chandeliers. “It was my grandparents’ place, and after they passed we kept it the exact same, full of all their old stuff,” Cody explains. Over the course of a year spent holed up at the so-called Green House, Houndmouth slowly shaped the warm and unhurried sound of Good For You. “Except for the first EP we’d never recorded in our own space before,” says Myers. “It was perfect because we all felt so comfortable, and there were no time constraints on anything.”
In a departure from the shambolic spirit of past work like Little Neon Limelight (Houndmouth’s 2015 breakout, featuring the platinum-selling “Sedona”), Good For You bears a hi-fi minimalism that beautifully illuminates its finespun storytelling. “From working with Brad and Jon we learned to go for the simplest parts that best support the melody, and to let the frequencies take up more space in the songs,” says Myers. On the album-opening title track, Houndmouth bring that approach to a sweetly languid breakup song set against the surreal backdrop of the Kentucky Derby (“I wrote that before Covid, but at the time I was sort of emotionally going through a pandemic,” Myers points out). On “Miracle Mile,” Houndmouth pay homage to the many misfits they’ve met on the road, including a woman they’ve nicknamed after the Greek god of wine and ritual madness (“Sweet Dionysus/She never really liked us/Hangs on and stays too long/And then supplies us all with vices”). One of the most heavy-hearted moments on Good For You, “McKenzie” looks back on an ex-girlfriend of Cody’s and spins a tender portrait of wasted longing (“Everybody’s coming over/To smoke and go nowhere/Once a steady conversation/Just a bunch of hot air”). And on “Cool Jam,” Houndmouth eulogize a doomed romance, embedding their lyrics with so much broken wisdom (e.g., “Ain’t no heaven when you’re having a good time”).
On its closing track “Las Vegas,” Good For You shifts into a far rowdier mood, offering up a freewheeling anthem that once again reveals Houndmouth’s ability to build a novel’s worth of tension in just a few lines (“You wore makeup for three days straight/Half a Xanax for the holidays/By the look on your face/You’re rolling eights the hard way”). Working from a demo they’d laid down years before, the band produced “Las Vegas” on their own in the frenetic final session for the album. “We had a mic at one end of the hallway, and we were all just screaming the harmonies together from the other end,” Myers notes. In assembling the tracklist for Good For You, Houndmouth nearly withheld the song due to its outlier status, but ultimately found its joyfully unhinged energy well-suited to a world waking up from a year of grief and isolation. “I love how you can hear the difference between Brad really anchoring us down on all the rest of the album, and then the chaos of us handling that one ourselves,” says Cody.
For Houndmouth, the making of Good For You allowed for a major leap forward in their songwriting and sound while recalling the pure abandon of the band’s early days. “I remember the first time I ever came to the Green House and saw what was happening here and I thought, ‘I’m never leaving this place,’” says Myers, who met Appleby and Cody in high school and started collaborating with them in college. “This album felt like being back in that time again, only now everything’s a little more dialed-back and cared-for. It was like a return to the way we fell in love with playing music together.”