Too much rock reviewing turns into a shallow game of Pin the Tail on the Influence. Run a Lexis-Nexis search on the words “Interpol,” “joy,” and “division” and watch the hits rack up. But what’s a reviewer to do? Here’s a brand new group, Band of Horses, and by track one of their debut album, the references are already running wild: Built to Spill, The Shins, Modest Mouse, Neil Young and Crazy Horse, maybe even Jane’s Addiction and the Flaming Lips.
So tons of credit goes to Band of Horses for crafting a sound more than just the sum of these influential parts. Let’s call it bootgazer. The guitars churn away at a glowing wall of sound while an occasional twangy solo line floats up out of the mix, and lead singer Ben Bridwell’s backwoods voice shouts down the devil.
Band of Horses is at its best in the softer, quieter moments. “Part One” sounds like another Sub Pop star, Iron and Wine, with its acoustic guitar and pretty harmonies. The similar “I Go to the Barn Because I Like The” starts with the great line, “I like to think I’m a mess/ You’d wear with pride.” And “The Funeral” begins beautifully, with a lone guitar arpeggio, before, as they say of a blitz in football, “bringing the house.”
And again, it shows talent that the members of Band of Horses don’t just go the easy-listening route the whole time, but risk some heavier moments. “Wicked Gil” and “Our Swords” sound, well, Interpol-esque, especially the latter, with its bass-heavy intro.
The best tracks on Everything All the Time, though, deal with geography: “The Great Salt Lake,” the gorgeous, Christmas carol-like closer “St. Augustine,” and “Part One” mentions going “back to Carolina/ And down to Savannah.”
Bridwell and bassist Mat Brooke logged a near-decade in Carissa’s Weird, a band that was highly buzzed about in their hometown of Seattle but never did get known nationally. With this great debut on one of the biggest, best indie labels, I wouldn’t bet on the same fate for Band of Horses.
Sub Pop Web site