Elevate Difference

The Holy Open Secret

I would not have selected this album to review if I’d actually read the liner notes. However, I did my due diligence, went to iTunes and listened to a sample or two. I loved singer Sean Hoot’s voice, the uncomplicated lyrics and definite rock beat.

When my package arrived with Hoots & Hellmouth’s The Holy Open Secret, my children, who are teenagers, made their way into my room as I played it. Looking slightly bewildered at my musical choice, my son entered with the comment, “Is that really someone playing the saw?”

I am a lover of most kinds of music. I have every genre on my iPod, often listening to Everclear, Annie Lenox, and Frank Sinatra in short order. But The Holy Open Secret threw me for a little bit of a loop. It was like the first time I watched Napoleon Dynamite—I kept waiting for the funny, engaging, or meaningful moment. But it never came. Except that it did—tenfold.

I love this album. Absolutely adore it. I play it for anyone who will listen. I’ve listened to it at least seven times myself. I have come to obsess over the simplicity, the unusual and amazing concept, and the unique instrumentation pulled together by Hoots & Hellmouth. This is amazing stuff.

I’d almost hate to call this roots music and turn anyone off from discovering the depth and strength that is possessed in its simple concept. I want to beg everyone to listen to it more than once before making a decision. I’m not big into bluegrass or Appalachian music, but this is such a unique and phenomenal group—those who venture past the initial moment of understanding that something special is happening will be amazed at the result. There is stomping, clapping, and other unique forms of percussion—I read someplace that they rarely play with a drummer—and it’s an exciting concept to feel the music without the pounding drums that can overwhelm a subtle lyric.

Formed in 2005 as a two-man group, the now four-member Hoots & Hellmouth caught my attention. And how. I’d give anything to see them live—I bet it’s something to behold to see them in person. Stomping on stage. It all but gives me chills.

They have a great website that includes YouTube clips of live performances. Come on, you know you want to check them out—give it a listen and watch this most unusual quartet. I absolutely, positively guarantee that you’ve never seen anything like it before. Of course, too late to do anything about it, I discovered, as I write this, that they’re traveling through my home state. Now, how do I follow someone on twitter again…? Did they play here? That would be devastating, to have missed them when I just found them.

Written by: Rachel Petzold, December 14th 2009