Label: Mad Dragon Records Release date: Out Now! Website: http://www.hootsandhellmouth.com Buy: Amazon When I listen to a new record I generally need something to jump up and hit me. I need something that confirms that this is worth listening to, whether it's a catchy riff, some cool melodies or some great lyrics, I just need something. If I'm being honest this album didn't grab me as I'd have liked and it passed me by a little. However seeing that this my first offering for you good people at the 405, I thought that I had better give it a little more time and consideration whereby I found a bit more value in its sound. 'The Holy Open Secret' is the second album from Philadelphia's Hoots and Hellmouth. Following on from their self titled debut in 2007, 'The Holy Open Secret' offers an acoustic, rootsy take on sixties American county-folk. On reflection there's quite a lot going on behind the scenes here. What initially appears as fairly bland and non remarkable opens up to hint at a mish-mash of styles and genres. It's not quite alt-country, it's not quite folk, it's not quite blues but it does have elements of each of these. Hell, there's even strands of poppy-bluegrass in places. Beyond the myriad of genres that the record touches upon there's a real depth to the musicianship on show here too with some impressive guitar and mandolin playing throughout and the odd harmonica break thrown in for good measure (always a winner in my book). The record kicks off with a couple of the stronger tracks like 'Root of the Industry', an up-tempo power pop bluegrass number and 'You and All of Us' which would provide a nice soundtrack to drinking off a hangover at a lazy Sunday barbecue. Between these two tracks you can just about get a good flavour of what's to come. The album ebbs and flows a little through the next few tunes with some more straightforward country folk ballads. These offer nothing new and exciting and could realistically have been knocked out by one of a hundred bands you're just not that interested in. However, just when you think you have the measure of this album and it’s slipping away from you, Hoots and Hellmouth stamp their unique signature on the record with the quirky and wonderful 'The Family Band'. This owes a lot to Summer of Love feel-good tracks (not a bad thing by any means) and comes complete with a whistle-along chorus. Think Mungo Jerry's 'In the Summertime' without the promotion of drink driving. All in all Hoots and Hellmouth have produced a decent album and 'The Holy Open Secret' works reasonably well. There are definitely more ups than downs on here but, for me, things just work better when the tempo is raised and they take the step away from the middle of the road ballads. Bit of a slow burner but still glad I gave it some more time. Rating: 7/10 MP3: Hoots and Hellmouth - Three Penny Charm Track to download: 'The Family Band'' Track to skip: 'Dishpan Hands'' What to expect: Acoustic, folk, Bluegrass, Counrty, Americana, Rock, Pop When to listen: Hungover Sunny Sunday Barbecue Pigeonhole: Somewhere between Little Barrie and Mungo Jerry!