Given the parameters of what actually constitutes the blues, it’s easy to see why: There just aren’t that many variations of the genre’s 12-bar framework that retain that “bluesy feel.”
Instead, its divergences usually come in the form of vocal variance and guitar solos, and Them Hounds thrive within these confines.
Two things immediately jump out at you on the Oklahoma City quartet’s self-titled debut album: Erin Ames has a voice tailor-made for rock ’n’ roll and guitarist Michael Franklin sure can pound out a Zeppelin riff. These cats (er, hounds) know how to rock out, and they do so with regularity.
Opening track “Out the Window” unfurls in a way that embodies the very fiber of contemporary blues rock, mimicking some of its more illustrious mainstays (Wolfmother, Band of Skulls). “The Fix,” meanwhile, finds a staccato rhythm giving way to a soaring bridge/chorus release, a formula that’s successfully rocked arenas for decades.
That said, moments like these almost sound too easy for the band. You nearly wish Them Hounds would branch out to challenge themselves a bit more. Once the group frees itself from the limitations of genre, no telling how far it — and Ames’ howl — will go.
In this sense, Them Hounds is less of a career-defining statement and more a glimpse of potential — and boy, do they have lots of it. —Zach Hale