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Hounds Tooth - Soul Rockin’

Self Released

10 tracks

Hailing from Milwaukee, Hounds Tooth is comprised of Jared James Nichols and J .D. Optekar sharing the guitar and vocals with Bob Noll and Jeff Oscarson on bass and drums. They are a powerful and tight band with a good sound. Original tracks by Optekar predominate on the CD with three nice covers of Duke Robillard, Don Nix and Leon Russell songs. The band has a very good modern electric blues sound; the guitar work and steady back line are all quite impressive.

The title track opens to a heavy, somewhat familiar but powerful blues rock groove. The guitar work really impressed me; not over done, good licks, controlled power. Nichols and Optekar can rock it out when they need to and show restraint when they should, marks of good axe men. “Blues is Truth” opens the CD with a groove that gets the listener ready for more. It also gives you a good idea how Optekar relates current day life in his lyrics. Robillard’s “Jumpin’ Rockin’ Rhythm” is a Chuck Berry styled blues rocker that the band took to quite nicely. Nix’ “Goin’ Down” and Russell’s “Me and My Guitar” are also well done.

“Black Coffee” features a guest vocalist, Gabe Marchan, which for me was the highlight of the album. It was an interesting song with more nice lyrics by Optekar, and Marchans’ singing was by far the best effort of the ten tracks. The vocals on “Black Coffee” are strong, emotional and even. Nichols’ higher pitched vocals on his three tracks are focused but Optekar’s vocal style confused me at times. He modulates his baritone voice and it seems to get a little off key when he does; I wondered why even try and take that approach. It sort of seemed like “Kanye West does the blues”, but without the electronic effects. I could have done without that, but others may find that his style has some charm.

Solid guitar work, well written and well done original songs mixed with some unique cover songs makes this Milwaukee band’s inaugural CD a hit. I’ll be catching up with these guys at a festival in the Midwest soon and I recommend that you do, too!

Reviewer  Steve Jones is secretary of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL. 

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