Friday, October 12, 2007

THR33 and a 4OUR

Cease to Begin - Band of Horses

Somewhere in the Pacific Northwest you can still find clubs that revel in the sounds of yesteryear, when grunge was king. In the thicket of trees that flow off the Cascades and rush to the Pacific there is a coolness and dampness to the air; it’s a wonderful place. Deep in these same woods are those who are not far from being Southern in manner and thought. Combine these facets and you’ll have a Band of Horses.

Often donning a red G on his hat, Bridwell wears his UGA pride loud. He’s not a graduate, in fact he’s not even from Georgia…for that matter he’s not even a fulltime Southerner. He might as well be. After the smashing success of their debut effort BOH took their Southern rock via Seattle sound, packed it up and moved it to Charleston. Now immersed in the throws of Southern hospitality, BOH took on a far more simple sound. Road tested and eager for the next effort Cease to Begin was written, recorded, mixed and produced in Asheville, NC, staying true to the southern music tradition. This time around however, it’s a Pacific Northwest album they’ve made…in the South.

Dropping the loose, rooted in jam vibe, BOH’s Cease is a tight album, focused in all the right ways, but still hanging on to that down home fun lovin’ sound. The rippling crescendos and dramatic and endless hooks are there this time around, you just have to listen more intently for them. Although the music bellies itself up to alt country more than anything, the short song structures and quickness pays direct homage to the grunge noise where the lyrics and essence of the band are Southern to the core. It’s poppy, simple and beautiful.

Cease is a successful second album, because it doesn’t try to be anything it’s not. The songs aren’t looking to wow you, they just want hang out and have a beer on the back porch. As far as I’m concerned, they are welcome to stop by whenever.

Tracks to have over for a cold one: Ode to LRC, Islands on the Coast and The General Specific


Random Spirit LoverSunset Rubdown

Spencer has been all over the map since the release of the breakthrough Wolf Parade LP of ’05. The map has been muddled at times, mess piled upon confusion with a few grandiose pit stops of sheer brilliance. But it’s been too much at times. Swan Lake and Frog Eyes are bizarre and amazing, but they are hurried and eager. Sunset is Krug’s baby, the spawn he produced on Shut Up seemed destine to grow into an important man, but it seemed it was going to get lost in the shuffle.

The journey Krug has been on has been exhausting mentally. The jamble and jumble with the layers and dubs and echoes of voices and sounds and more sounds at blazing construction where timing and transitions were of no concern has grown thin and drab. Melodically speaking Krug seemed too immersed in something he couldn’t figure out. He threw groups together and rallied out LP’s hoping to bottle the energy in his head and voice. The songwriting and lyrics has remained top notch, but the overall product was at times frustrating. The listener yearns to grab Krug and yell, “Get it out and move on.”

That is of course before we heard Random.

Finally, the album Krug has been scratching at has come to life and it is every bit the brilliant and complex lad the father hoped he would be.

Sharp, focused, still wild and extremely well produced, the sound is on with this album. Sunset may be Krug at his best, although I am more the fan of the Wolf, this is where Krug gets it out of his system and does it on his terms. The metaphors, the drenched in imagery landscapes of words, the speed and the high notes crash together and create something uncertain yet certainly exciting. The frustration still resides in places but this one is fully engrossing and satisfying. A relief.

Sounds to explore and discern for yourself: Up on your Leopard, Upon the End of Your Feral Days, Winged/Wicked Things and Magic vs. Midas


War ElephantDeer Tick

They say you gotta smother ‘em. Coat that sucker in Vaseline until you draw the very life from it. Pinchers sink deep into the flesh and if the head lingers infection’ll set in and it makes it’s way down the bloodline, fixin you ill. They’re dirty and they’re dangerous.

You’ll wanta take hold and rip it from the flesh, tearing it from what it yearns to feed but doesn’t belong. Some say burn him off there, he’ll leave a scar but that’s better than him poisoning ya. They seem to drop down on ya as if it came from nowhere and it’ll furrow into the thrash of hair on head, tying itself up deep in the weeds. There he’ll sit, tucked away, clawin’ in deep.

He’s a bastard all right. A Yellow fevered Rocky Mountain bastard.

Deer Tick sits a simple man in his backwooded musical nest. But don’t let his size throw ya, for once ya hear him pour his heart out in scratchy yelp you’ll feel every bit the brother lost. The opening stanza of War draws you in with intrigue, then the powerful claws snap down and he starts sucking away. Now your his victim and he’s gonna have his way.

I am the boy your mother wanted you to meet, but I am broken and torn with heels at my feet.

To say this is a heck of an album would be a downright lie. It’s something else. It’s pure. It’s dark. It’s crooked and not looking to be set straight. You could drop the instruments and I’d still listen to his voice for hot days on end. It’s dusty, dripping of whiskey and brokenhearted. Set that up with the strumming and rockabilly drumming and its able to leave you in awe. Never pretentious, yet aware of its ability, the band bleeds into ya, draining you down to your core.

War is a bloody triumph. Worth risking infection and disease (even for Tribble).

These’ll get under your skin: Ashamed, These Old Shoes and Dirty Dishes


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