I wrote yesterday about Minus the Bear’s debut full length, and how each record since then has lost more and more of my interest, to the point of total abandonment.
Much in the same way is the music of Band of Horses.
The first BoH song I ever had the pleasure of hearing was the tenacious and resounding “Wicked Gil.” It happened in the least organic slash most corporate way possible. In my late teens, I was working at a video game store (one that sounds a lot like “FameShop”), and we received a shipment of Microsoft Zunes (RIP) to put on display.
One of the pre-loaded songs was the aforementioned jam, which comes from the band’s debut release Everything All The Time. By the time their sophomore album Cease to Begin was released the next year, I no longer worked for TameMop, and the band kind of blew up.
But after the release of the atrocious Infinite Arms – the rare album in which I agree with a Pitchfork review – as a fan since their days on a video game store Zune, their voyage into country folk rock was one I was not about, at all. Shame, too, because starting with the aptly-titled “The First Song,” Everything is a supremely enjoyable listen.
Singer Ben Bridwell’s voice soars all over: syrupy and gentle in the lows, surging and forceful on the highs. The group’s signature musicality on these first two records errs more on the side of indie rock than folk rock or whatever Mirage Rock is.
But I guess we we all should have known that the band would deviate from the mold sooner rather than later, eventually ending up in some alt-country black hole. That cringeworthy “Yee-haw” on “Weed Party” was a dead giveaway.
Either way, it’s a relentlessly catchy tune, and so are “The Great Salt Lake” and “Our Swords.” Elsewhere, “Part One” and “St. Augustine” slow it down for a minute, adding pace and temperance to an album that starts out hellbent on playing mid-tempo songs with a vengeance.
Too bad they couldn’t sustain it for more than two releases.
Oh well. Now I’m bitter.
From Everything All The Time, this is “Wicked Gil” –
Standout tracks: “The First Song” and “The Great Salt Lake” and “Weed Party” – and of course, “The Funeral”
Weakest track: Most of “Monsters”
RIYL: Folk, folk rock, indie folk, indie rock. The Shins, Fleet Foxes, My Morning Jacket.