After stints in various indie rock bands, Leo DeJesus’s ambition was to pass an artistic thread through the tail of a cultural needle. On the one hand attempting to avoid the new-project/side- project/offshoot-project trappings of coming from such a prolific local scene and, on the other hand, making no effort to blindly jump into the melee of a fickle, fleeting American indie rock culture, DeJesus faced the much more personal challenge of creating a distinct musical voice in a city not very much known as a rock and roll Mecca. That city, New Orleans, Louisiana, however, became the site of two furious years of non-stop writing and performing as Vox and the Hound, surrounded by one of the most eclectic line-ups one is likely to ever come across. With frequent collaborator and drummer Eric Rogers, punk rock renaissance ivory man Daniel “D-Ray” Ray, local rock guitarist Rory Callais and area bassist Andrew Jarman, DeJesus’ would-be singer/songwriter vehicle quickly became something of a coordinated supergroup that managed to turn heads at South by Southwest 2012 and beyond, amassing a rabid following that stretched across the Gulf South.
The result of this 48-month labor is Courage, a peculiar and subtly original record that eschews fly-by-night relevance but instead gives heed to anyone curious about how Vox and the Hound has become one of the most beloved acts in the entire state of Louisiana. Recorded in the shadow of the Crescent City Connection at the Living Room Studios in Algiers, the ten track, painstaking analog jaunt through the New Orleans underground pops, buzzes, thumps and sings in ways that largely place it at odds with the aught-tens’ saturation of attention-seeking lo-fi. Stylistically, the band walks a narrow tightrope between the intelligence of modern day content-conscious indie rock and the organic sophistication of jam time-era prog. If an air of one-off aberrance seems to surround Courage, it’s because homegrown records this perfectly executed don’t coalesce very often.
- Taylor Gray, August 17, 2012