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Kicking out the hazy jams

The Stilts ride high on 'Yellow Hound'
By CHRIS CONTI  |  May 7, 2014

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WHERE'S THE QUAD? The Stilts.

There are plenty of bluesy jam-band acts around these parts worth looking up nowadays. Add Woonsocket-based quartet the Stilts to that list; they’re set to release the full-length debut Yellow Hound this weekend at a hometown album release party. The Stilts specialize in kicking out hazy summery jams ready to rock the campus quad or town beach bonfire, not the land-locked mill town of Woonsocket.

The quartet is riding high following an impressive showing at this year’s WBRU Rock Hunt finals. Although the band fell just short of taking the crown (following a dominant performance in the semi-final round), the crowd was in full force (and fully lathered up) behind the Stilts and received the loudest reception of the night. Last year the band took top honors in 990WBOB’s Battle of the College Bands.

Jason Dolbec (lead vocals/guitar), Ryan Tremblay (bass), and Jarod Cournoyer (guitar/vox) have been friends since high school, and about one year ago they hooked up with drummer Dave Boulet (formerly of Floyd the Barber), who ultimately inspired the album title Yellow Hound.

“Dave was moving to Conway, New Hampshire, right after we recorded the album, so we wanted to name the album as a tribute to him,” recalled Dolbec. “I got curious as to what ‘Conway’ means, and found one of the Gaelic translations [is] ‘yellow hound.’ ”

The Stilts’ rhythm section of Boulet and Tremblay are locked in across Yellow Hound, and the three-part harmonies coast over catchy guitar riffs right from the start on the leadoff single “So Youthful.” I had both the Police and Band of Horses scribbled down when the crew launched into the crowd favorite at the Rock Hunt finals. According to Cournoyer, the song was originally penned by Dolbec more than eight years ago, but that damn infectious chorus was added just prior to recording the album. Don’t be surprised if WBRU continues to spin this one all summer long.

A beer is cracked open as Boulet’s snare gallops on “Running uUp the Country Hills” and then downshifts on the mellow “Struck Gold.” Tremblay noted the “blues-rock vibe throughout the new album,” while citing influences like Grand Funk Railroad and Rory Gallagher, and everything from Johnny Winter to John Mayer. There is definitely is some blue-eyed soul (mill-town lovin’?) on display in “Grandiose” and “Brain Scattered.” G. Love comes to mind on “Out of My Own Way,” while “Stilt Man” reminds me of vintage 311 with Dolbec casually crooning “If you listen, you can catch my breeze” over a woozy, pendulum-swaying bassline. But the Stilts really get cooking on the album’s hardest-rocking track, “Any Old Love Poem,” and it’s clear these guys can catch lightning when they let loose. The two-part finale “Rock Up” starts like an instrumental Pavement jam escaped from Wowie Zowie and ends with the crew howling away over the simmering, midtempo groove.

Cournoyer noted the band will begin mapping out a regional summer tour from New Hampshire to New York (including a just-announced headlining gig at Dusk on June 6).

“We really want to get our music out there,” he said. “We’re feeling a lot of inspiration since completing the album and we are already in the process of writing more tunes.”

Pick up a copy of Yellow Hound this weekend at the upcoming release show or visit
thestiltsri.bandcamp.com.

THE STILTS + ALYCAT | Friday, May 9 @ 8 pm | Stage Right Studio, 68 South Main St, Woonsocket | thestiltsri.bandcamp.com

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ARTICLES BY CHRIS CONTI
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