Album Review: Smooth Hound Smith – “Smooth Hound Smith”
It takes two. In the case of Smooth Hound Smith, two is all that’s needed to brew a raucous clash of backwoods folk, raw blues, and underground rock. The California-based duo, consisting of Zack Smith (guitars/vocals/foot drums/harmonica) and Caitlin Doyle (vocals/percussion), generate enough power to fuel a full band. But there’s something more intimate about two musicians playing off one another, harmonizing as their collective energy and chemistry blows off sparks. For example, on “Steal Your Crown,” Smith and Doyle kick out the jams with a dirty blues rave-up, all distorted riffs and pounding beats.
Male-female duos in rock & roll aren’t that common so the White Stripes easily come to mind. However, Smooth Hound Smith are more deeply rooted in folk music than alternative rock so that comparison is really only valid in their gender make-up. The soaring harmonies between Smith and Doyle recall John Doe and Exene Cervenka of legendary L.A. punks X as well. The stomping “30 Days” suggests what X would’ve sounded like if they had given in completely to their affection for vintage country.
Smooth Hound Smith balances the rambunctious with the relatively chill. “Body Talkin’” features some lovely vocals by Smith, and the track’s easygoing vibe soothes the ears. But Doyle probably delivers the biggest punch with the finale, “Be My Husband.” Her fiery singing closes the record with fevered passion.