(out of 4)
On July 3, 2010, after two full-length albums and many fantastically sweaty shows, Seattle's beloved scrappy folk punks the Whore Moans played their last show. They assured us it was only the beginning—they'd be re-forming as Hounds of the Wild Hunt. The new plans evidently took some time, and only now, more than two years later, has the band finally released its debut full-length, El Mago.
El Mago is the perfect length, with 10 songs coming in just under 40 minutes, and not a single wasted second can be heard. "A Walk to Remember" and "Courage" recall the invigorating attitude of early Against Me!. Nearly every song's chorus is infectious—you'll strain your vocal cords to sing along to "The Judas Goat" and "Only the Echoes." And in songs like "Crooked" and "All the Men's Kings," the raucous attitude that wooed us all in the Whore Moans days is still very alive, but it's given new life with delicate strings and well-placed horns.
Not only was the Hounds of the Wild Hunt debut worth the two-year wait, but it might be one of the best local records of 2012.