Quiet Hounds – Nostalgia ensemble of eclectic wanderlust, and Baby Yoda
Nostalgia ensemble of eclectic wanderlust, and Baby Yoda. All in a night’s work for the Atlanta based Indie-pop band Quiet Hounds.
What a treat we were given in Charlotte the other night at the Evening Muse. Quiet Hounds came to town, who haven’t been back in what seemed an eon. The cold crisp night air was a good backdrop for the warmth we were bestowed.
Welcomed to their world in tiny pieces of connection, belting tunes back to the band, dancing, and the one thing you could see around the whole room was joyous smiles. We were met at the doors with Baby Yoda stamps and if that is a great way to start a show, it was fitting as I have a slight obsession with baby yoda. I’m about 1000 deep in a folder of BY memes.
Back to the band – people just frankly have a great time at their shows. Through the band’s demeanor, the gift of sound, and a communal feeling of nostalgia of yester-years, a swarm of ethereal souls came together leading to a successful release show performance. In a venue that lends for amazing acoustics it was a perfect fit for the sound landscape of the evening. The band was more seasoned, which was not a surprise: a decade between shows with QH in different forms (aka Trances Arc) for some on the dance-floor. A handful drove hundreds of miles for this intimate time full of two complete sets giving an extensive tour of their catalog. The band has six studio albums Remnants, Characteristics of Living Things, Shake Don’t Shatter, The Wild Hunt, Megaphona, Southern Charm and tonight’s release, their new creation, Everything Else is Noise — which is a great holiday gift idea, at least for an avid audiophile! Simply a masterful album that catches you from first piano key tone to last note fades. It is sure to be on repeat.
“Tell me there’s no regret/Summertime silhouettes /As long as you’re here beside… me, closely /haunting, ghostly/You my only”
The album’s plush sounds give melophiles a fill of chunky-static guitars, a vastly distinct QH wah, lushly layered vocals, and a cacophony of instruments you can find at any QH live show. When you pop through the songs, you come away with a warm feeling tantamount to hot apple pie slathered in vanilla ice cream; warm and succulent– ready to be consumed and enjoyed on a cold winter’s night, like this night in Charlotte. A lush barrage of tonal waves sing in our ears just perfectly, skilled musical landscapes that bounce between happy-go-lucky, heartbroken, confused, and blissfully loved. The album has it all, layered vocals contributed by several members and poetic realness when you piece together the track-listing of Everything Else is Noise and read it aloud slowly…..
The violent fall of
A rushing, roaring
Hidden amongst the
“Oh my this is bliss, on your tongue, I taste it every now and then..You’re my supine kiss, with a twist you keep me coming back again”
I’ve always thought of them as melodic-laden Jedis and in small ways, this performance affirms my theorization.
They have such a powerfully emotive performance that combine mixed feelings in verse, such singles as “Danger Love,” “Underwater Listening,” “Good Bones,” ” Emperors,” ”Beacon Sun,” ”Pocket Change,” ”Daring Greatly,” and ”I Get Up.” You connect with them, the simplest form of human nature is your innate want for this. It’s organic, those I know that don’t even enjoy the genre latch on to QH’s sound when I share. Why? Because while they are identified as indie-pop, they’re genre blenders and jump like Olympians all over the musical atlas. Tonight we were treated to parts of alternative, Americana, singer-songwriter, rock, a bit of punk, soul, pop, country, and even a little disco.
“Where is the disco!”.
They opened with the nostalgia-driven single “Time Gone.” With first lyric being —
“Oh my, how can it be so many years? Why is everything not as it appears?”
The emotions in those two lines, how perfectly dramatic. It has been years, but we’re just picking up where we left off. Many of us are now married with a bunch of kiddos and have garnished many stories to tell. Tonight though, we weren’t just Mom and Dad, we were so much more.
“Are we not rockstars? Part-time demigods. I can be your Emperor.”
It took me back to feeling youthful, alive. I think inherently this is why music exists — you can pop-on-a-tune for every flux in feelings to fill a small void or exacerbate a positive feeling, the equivalent of a legal drug.
The first and second set dove through every album they have put out with crowd favorites such as “Danger Love,” “Underwater Listening,” and the clap-happy and fun-loving song “ Good Bones.” One of the most distinct guitar parts to the set was the opening to “Emperors.” Michael’s face lights up when he could squint to see what song was next on the setlist.
Eric joked it was because they are all old now and can’t see but the font was tiny. I snagged a copy of the setlist (you can see it at the bottom of the article.) The night had many cute knee-slapping statements like this.
The band gelled and played better than CD quality live. The notes were crisp and on time and if there was a slip up somewhere in there, no one caught it. I’m blown away every time by the quality of their sound live. Some artists are just terrible and most of them are the most popular. If you see one band in 2020 to compare to what a real live show should sound like I implore you to see Quiet Hounds.
One statement to describe the band:
A dichotomy clashing lyrical brain and musical braun in one poetic amalgamation. This is a perfect formula to describe Quiet Hounds in small terms.
If we need to get a little wordier – buckle up cause I’m taking this bad boy for a spin – in the realm of shitty journalism moves I’m going to talk about my experience not just –they came they played, we parted ways. Instead, let’s start with memories of ‘05 at The Visulite Theater in Charlotte – a bit of a slide to the other side of town than last night’s show at The Evening Muse.
Let me take you on a journey. Picture it, Charlotte 15 years ago…
“Tell me what you want and I can make it happen.”
A journey started when I met my favorite indie band – with a little embarrassing photo-proof to giggle at for posterity. I was not Baby Yoda, but boy we’re babies here. Let me also state in the thousands of shows I’ve attended between the first QH gig and this one that statement of a favorite band still rings true. I have many bands I adore, enjoy, follow, and will talk about until blue-in-the-face so everyone will get out to the damn shows! Truly, from all parts of me Quiet Hounds are my love language.
I was introduced to a trio of the Hounds (Eric, Micheal, and Brad) when they were in a since defunct band Trances Arc; a pop-punky whimsical grouping that torted about alcohol, heartbreak, and deep thoughts on vinyl.
When they morphed into the clandestined Quiet Hounds seemingly overnight and so little of us were clued in to what the new project even was. I found a link in my email pointing me to the sounds with no signed name, no discernible clues as to who sent it. I get thousands of these a week and I don’t know what stood out for me to click and listen. Soon as I did I knew who was behind the mask like a real-life Masked Singer guessing game, I was exclaiming like Ken Jeong “ I KNOW WHO THIS IS!” Eric has a discernibly unique toned croon; you’d be hard-pressed to listen to any tune and not know it’s him. The range and viscosity of his pitch are leaps and bounds from many you hear played in heavy rotation in this era. Remember the first spin of the soon to be album – and was just blown away. I had to review this and I had to unmask the mystery men, though deep down I knew.
When I spoke with Eric:
He explained the shroud of mystery in the beginning with the masks, that sadly didn’t make their way to Charlotte tonight, was “ a lot of corporate red tape and how the band wanted to keep their music theirs so they couldn’t tell anyone who they were but they still wanted to play and create. Eventually, the record label cut ties with them and the masks came off after becoming a symbol, now they represent where they have transcended from.”
“These angels sing in rhymes as these days go colder”
Group shots and real shots alike, I was faced in the first image on the left 2005. It was hard to remember my name, I legitimately thought the party drinks pre-show were virgins. As soon as the first note out of vocalist Eric Toledo’s mouth – I could see through the haze and it brought me into his world. Pain, empathy, passion, bewilderment, confusion, a slight shy note or smile and I was sunk. The rest of the band one-by-one showed their skillset. Drummer Brad led the crowds’ hips to sway. Michael gave the crowd the energy that comes off him like a sonic pulse.
The set solidified my 15-year-long love affair with notes and narratives, colloquial stories, and provided the perfect canvas to my journey of losing best loves, birthing many beautiful humans, having a near-catastrophic stroke, finding a new love – myself, and more.. and crawling my way back to health while dragging my what felt like newbie behind back into the scene for good this time. There is a song in the catalog for every bit of that. I wanted to revisit the feeling I had that night when I met them so long ago. I wanted to share it with those around me, seeing familiar faces of the music scene:
I wanted to scream from the rooftop just how beautifully intense music can affect your life and I wanted to thank the guys for being that for me. I have 5 bands in my life that have this place (Incubus, Beck, John Mayer, QH, and Here Come the Mummies) and I know artists’ purpose is to give beauty into the world through their creative endeavors and make a difference. They have for me.
On to the Charlotte show:
Stage right, you will always find Michael Dorio, an energetic guitarist belting out lyrics, dancing with his Fraggle Rock quaff that many covet.
While I am making that statement in jest to lighten the load of me praising the band too much, there is an undeniable pulsating talent river flowing through this team. The damn dam burst. Stomping to the beat to help you feel it more with a smile on his face or a bent over shadow curling into a ball so tight while the music swells, Dorio’s stage presence is matched to Toledo’s creative quirks and lends to quipping banter on stage in code phrases and telepathic high-fives. Can you feel a high five? For the sake of this— you can. The force is strong with these men, cheesy yet fits perfectly. Vibe tie them, and I could not imagine a band without the duo calling eTo the back drummer,
Brad keeps time in the zone. He doesn’t lend vocals much and was hard-pressed for a smile. His stern look sometimes confusing until you see his hands at max speed or better at an incredibly slow skilled pace. Many drummers know the slow kicks and expertly timed places to drop the sticks can be just as hard as a 1-2-5-billion strike adaptations seen in speed-metal. His focus is unwavering and hones the band’s sound. The band members call each other on their sh*t openly on stage, half smiles, half don’t you even, but all a part of the flow to their ways. The band is brothers, a musical family bonded in rhythm, intelligent lyricism, and masterful musicianship.
“Each time we shake off the last one. Say that we’ll get it done. Thinking what we could have been.”
Stage left-back tucked behind bassist Deke Spears (bass, backing vocals and percussion) and Eric was Ben Holst (guitar, backing vocals and pedal steel), dare I say the hidden gem. Most of both sets he sat at the pedal steel, a magical instrument that like many, they incorporate into their albums AND live shows adding a deeper tone and a visual enigmatic spark. I focused on the pace of his hands and how it changed the depth of the pieces as they performed. Watching his face crack with small smiles and saying a band gels is an understatement of the year. Later in the set, he brought out the glitter-clad guitar. That thing is a beaut and some in the crowd let him know loudly.
“WE NEED MORE EGG!”
Their intricate and delicate song structures and story-telling are a mash of many brilliant creative minds. A rotating roster of band members through the years creates timeless art, giving them creative freedom to go in all different yet skilled directs. And indeed for a music photojournalist, they are stomping on my love map and I’m here for it. Multi-instrumentalists, lyricists, poets, dancers, singers, and chefs?
Took to the interwebs to learn about this stranger Deke Spears, and he makes sense for this group. A creative soul with the tags of music producer, and owner of #MagneticRecording and co-creator of Dinner Bell ATL. The premise is an interesting mix of music and culinary mavens to create a special moment and delicious night of entertainment. Personally, it’s on my list to attend one of these when I’m in Atlanta next. During the set he played a few instruments one being the egg, you do not see this enough! His energy was just as positive as the rest of the group. Playing his heart out, and giving me the need to find more of his story.
The other newness to the night was Lewis Beard (guitar, keyboards, backing vocals) ironically bearded. He was a bit shyer than the rest of his bandmates. Keeping perfect timing and by the second set and fewer jitters held he came into his own on stage. I enjoyed his addition to the sound (another keyboard heck yeah!) and look forward to seeing what he does next with the band.
“Deny the noise that fills the room /.Defy the voices / Fill up the space with her perfume”
The crowd was a ruckus bunch of local artists, music lovers, best of the best in town. I enjoyed singing my heart out next to them, grabbing their photos, and hearing their stories of travel and time invested into QH. Met some of the beautiful family the band brought along, and in the moments they brought the phrase “musical community” to my handy dandy notebook – Blue’s’ Clues style!
And of course the only best review ever of the show :
You had to be there, to get the reference I guess.
My goal: to share their music with any and everyone. To see them on their turf in Atlanta, drive down with a group of friends to experience QH for the first time and tear up the town. A full weekend of joy empowered through music, community, and raw untethered talent. And of course, to sing at the top of my lungs (again) every single song – and when I unabashedly unashamed I hope I see Micheal walking down the street again like the other night in Charlotte saying “Thanks again, doll!” because he hears I am blasting their album in my car as I pull away from the show to keep that feeling alive within me as long as I possibly can. I put together a Spotify playlist of the sets and am still bopping away to it.
Quiet Hounds are the embodiment of a real-life Baby Yoda, adorable, talented, and should be a viral sensation. They simply make music come alive. The band has a Spring tour in the works – as soon as any dates or details are announced we will keep you updated. In the meantime make sure to pick up Everything Else is Noise.
See them and love them all, you will!
“Don’t break and bend… just feel alive / Day dream my friend… in twisted glory /We’ll meet again”
Quiet Hounds are:
Eric Toledo – (vocals, keyboard, and guitar)
Michael Dorio – (guitar, backing vocals, and percussion)
Deke Spears – (bass, backing vocals and percussion)
Brad Hagen – (drums)
Ben Holst – (guitar, backing vocals, and pedal steel)
Lewis Beard – (guitar, keyboards, and backing vocals)
Baby Yoda – (the spirit in the machine)