Out of the gate on his second release, Panic Blues, Roger Hoover displays a brash, full-force vocal that recalls the warm, throaty tone of John Fogerty. At other times, he's in possession of Southern-rock drawl that's uncommon for these times. During the first few cuts here, you get the feeling that this band could've easily been a radio staple alongside such rootsy fair such as The Allman Brothers, Van Morrison, CCR, and The Band. Interestingly, and not surprisingly, Levon Helm is working with this Akron, OH quartet on their follow-up recording, and that certainly leaves some strong indication as to what kind of impression this self-produced release has given. Hoover's songs possess a humbled sense of maturity and honesty whether he's working an intimate or fiery mood, and this fine release works everything in between. (Bandaloop Records)
Released earlier this month, the debut CD from Akron, Ohio foursome Roger Hoover and the Whiskeyhounds, "Panic Blues" (Bandaloop Records) is already earning well-considered critical praise. While many music critics will
over-zealously throw in references to Dylan, Westerberg, and Waits just to capture a reader's attention, those nods to hallowed names certainly apply when it comes to Hoover's evocative and imagistic lyrics (with maybe a little John Fogerty thrown in for good measure). Likewise, The
Whiskeyhounds' roots-and-rumble style of playing references the work of such freewheelin' players as The Band and CCR. The band has reportedly begun working on a new recording with Band vocalist/drummer Levon Helm which may
just launch them into the stratosphere of "critical darlings."
- Buffalo Artvoice
Playing a mixture of country, rock and blues, the Whiskeyhounds have a narrative style that's garnered comparisons to everyone from Van Morrison and Bob Dylan to Dylan Thomas. Hoover doesn't just concern himself with
catchy choruses and refrains -- he composes with a sensibility that recalls Nebraska-era Springsteen or present-day Steve Earle.
- Cleveland Free Times
Once you get past the fact that singer Roger Hoover sounds uncannily like the original singer from the Marshall Tucker Band, the Whiskeyhounds really start to grow on you. Comfortable in the twang pop vernacular, they wander
down adjacent audio hallways with confidence. Ironically, Hoover did suffer from panic/anxiety disorder, which led to bouts of hard drinking, which in turn led to subject matter not at the disposal of the average songwriter.
Sure, "Ain't Working For The Man" could be The Band after a few shots, but "Almost Grown" and "Be My Queen" (among others) are knockouts.
- Pop Culture Press
Roger Hoover's insight - and his ability to express it in song - guarantees his place among the finest songwriters of this era. Moreover, what makes his lyrics so powerful-and convincing-is that he consistently portrays in his music the personal struggle provoked (and framed) by ideology."
- Dr. Carl J. Boon
Born in the late '70s and raised on the music of Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, and Johnny Cash, Roger Hoover first picked up the guitar at age 12. Having learned "I Walk the Line" from his late father, Hoover began to perform live shortly after. At this time, Hoover was playing songs written well before his time. Music written by the likes of the Memphis Jug Band, Charlie Patton, Furry Lewis, and Tommy Johnson filled out Hoover's earliest set lists.
While performing in blues bands, Hoover met fellow musician Freddy Hill and together they formed the Whiskeyhounds in 2001. Later that year, armed with a roots rock sound, the Whiskeyhounds released "Golden Gloves". Through constant touring and supporting established acts such as Chuck Prophet, Dave Alvin, Tim Easton, Junior Brown, and The Damnwells, the band built a large fan base throughout the Rust Belt and quickly sold out of several pressings of the CD. Bandaloop Records caught wind of the buzz and quickly signed the Whiskeyhounds. "Panic Blues" (BR-014) combines 10 original new tunes with the 5 hottest tracks from "Golden Gloves", to deliver a knockout release.
"Panic Blues" is the first of three Whiskeyhounds CDs slated for release through Bandaloop Records in 2005. The Whiskeyhounds are currently mixing the second CD, "Jukebox Manifesto", and then will be heading to Woodstock, New York in March to record new material with Levon Helm of The Band, for what will be the third, yet to be titled CD. The Whiskeyhounds will then hit the road for an extended tour of the United States, will sell millions of CDs, become insanely famous, and live happily ever after in their mansions on the hill.
Cleveland Scene Magazine
February 2, 2005
As a solo performer and leader of the Whiskeyhounds, Roger Hoover regularly holds court in his hometown of Akron, though he sounds as if he grew up in a backwoods Tennessee family that worshiped at a racially diverse gospel church. Panic Blues, the Whiskeyhounds' second album, opens with "Keep Me Away From You," country blues that sounds like John Fogerty fronting the Black Keys. Country boys in a rock world, Hoover and the 'Hounds can unplug or go electric as needed.
Fumbling through misfortune and chasing love, Hoover finds himself staring down the barrel of a gun and succumbing to "two-dollar girls finished by three-dollar wine." He sings in the faux drawl of a wandering soul who's strayed off the beaten path and has miles to go before he gets back to it. "I can only make one promise," Hoover confesses at one point. "I'm gonna go like Dylan Thomas." Fortunately for Hoover and his fans, he's already proved he doesn't need to live the life to make the music.
October 27-November3, 2004
By D.X. Ferris
They'll Drink to That
The Whiskeyhounds sign with a Columbus label.
Akron-Cleveland roots-rockers the Whiskeyhounds have agreed to a three-album deal with Columbus-based Bandaloop Records. The pact includes a solo album from frontman Roger Hoover.
"We're excited about this band," says Bandaloop chief Bill Hutchison, whose label has gained national airplay for the Cleveland metalcore outfit 13 Faces. "Roger Hoover is an unbelievably talented songwriter and lyricist, and the whole band is top-notch. The world really needs to hear these tunes."
Hoover, 25, was raised on a steady diet of Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, and Johnny Cash. As a teenager, he released several cassettes and CDs of 1920s and '30s-style blues. Formed in 2001, the Whiskeyhounds sold out a 1,000-copy pressing of their debut album, Golden Gloves. The band plays regularly at the Beachland and the Northside in Akron.
The Bandaloop deal starts with a simultaneous late-fall release of Hoover's acoustic solo disc and a rerelease of 2002's Panic Blues, expanded to include rerecorded, electric, full-band versions of acoustic songs from the Hounds' debut. Following the release, the Hounds will hit the road and stay there.
"Bill and I are on the same terms," says Hoover. "We want to move to a bigger label eventually, and we want to tour constantly. It's terrible calling a club to book yourself. So now we have representation."
September 24-30, 2003
By Duane Verh
ROGER HOOVER AND THE WHISKEYHOUNDS
Golden Gloves sets a high standard for the alt-country scene in these parts. Granted, there's not really anything new here: The solitary, sometimes love-crazed, sometimes just-plain-crazed protagonists inhabiting songs such as "Behind These Walls," "Kisses for Free," and "Dead Man's Shoes" have shown up in many an outlaw country tune. But Hoover makes them fresh and sharp, with a knack for a nicely turned phrase and the occasional unexpected chord.
The 'Hounds are a sparing and solid bunch; on Golden Gloves, they generally hold back more than they let go. Theirs is an inspired, Southern-fried sound that evokes the golden days of the old Capricorn label. If Hoover has more strong tunes in his satchel, this is quite likely the Whiskeyhounds' last "regional" release.
May 30, 2003
Roger Hoover grew up listening to Bruce Springteen, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash and the other American mavericks inhabiting his dad's record collection.
As he got a little older and acquired an acoustic guitar, Hoover started digging deeper, into music by Hank Williams Sr., Woody Guthrie, the Carter Family and Son House.
"My friends were into Nirvana and Pearl Jam, and I was, too. But I wanted stuff I could play myself. Nobody in my town (Barberton) was playing music," says Hoover, 24, whose band The Whiskeyhounds is playing Luna Grille Saturday night.
At age 15, Hoover started performing at open-mike nights in Kent. In terms of getting attention, "my age definitely helped," he says. "I had a big voice when I was 15. I sounded older than my age."
Here was this young kid up onstage, stomping his foot, playing slide guitar and kazoo and singing "Minglewood Blues" by Cannon's Jug Stompers, a Memphis combo from the 1930s. Hoover chuckles at the memory. While studying art at Kent State, Hoover shelved his musical aspirations for a time. "I figured I wasn't going to get anywhere being a white kid singing black (blues) music," he says. "Besides, now everyone wants you to sound like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jonny Lang."
Two years ago, Hoover joined forces with guitarist Freddy Hill, then playing with area band Mojo Honey, to form a band called the Whiskeyhounds. "Freddy wasn't the most talented musician I could have asked, but he was really inspired and he had a lot of drive," Hoover says. Bass player Brian Garrison, a Massillon native, also came from Mojo Honey.
The Whiskeyhounds music is a blend of blues, country, rock and folk elements that fits into the Americana category. The band's shows are primarily original songs penned by Hoover, with the occasional tune by Johnny Cash, The Band or Muddy Waters to mix things up.
When singing a ballad, Hoover's distinctive voice has a lonesome, weathered quality that belies his youth. The 10 original songs on the band's debut CD, "Golden Gloves," poured out of Hoover in just two months.
"My main inspiration came from my father, who passed away May 8 last year," he says. "We had a strange relationship. He was an alcoholic and at times I didn't want anyone to know we were even related. But a couple of months before he died, we got closer. He really pushed me to write these songs."
The crowd-pleasing "Dead Man's Shoes," Hoover explains, "started out as a song about me playing music that has been passed down through generations of music, following in the footsteps of dead men. It's about me choosing to find my own path."
As a songwriter, Hoover is nothing if not prolific. "We have roughly 35 new songs," he says. "We really need to do another CD."
"They all start as folk songs," Roger Hoover says about his Whiskeyhounds originals.
Check out the artist's website:
1. Keep Me Away From You
2. Main Street
3. Ain't Working For The Man
6. Almost Grown
7. Be My Queen
8. Like Dylan Thomas
9. Nashville City Nights
10. Panic Blues
11. Blueberry Wine
12. Sweet Angelyne
13. Caroline Street
14. 2 Am
15. Dead Man's Shoes