Band of Horses
Band of Horses may have moved over to the mainstream with their 2010 release Infinite Arms, but the continuing presence of fuzzy steel guitar and even fuzzier facial hair suggests they’re still keeping close to their country roots—at least for now.
Band of Horses started life back in 2004 in the drizzly capital of grunge, Seattle. Despite a liking for plaid shirts and signing to the city’s Subpop label, Band of Horses have little in common with Seattleites Nirvana or Alice in Chains. In fact, you can’t hear the rainy northern city in their music at all; just the sound of sunshine, rustling cornfields and the clinking of glasses in a rural southern roadhouse.
It was the single ‘The Funeral’ that first got the band noticed. A melancholic slice of jangly folk rock, the song was picked up by TV and radio stations across the U.S. with critics comparing singer and chief songwriter Ben Bridwell to Neil Young and My Morning Jacket vocalist, Jim James. They looked set to take over the world. Instead, band members came and went. And then, in 2010, came Infinite Arms, the band’s third studio album. It was the first to be a major international success, with critics seeming to agree that this is what would take them from a name known only to music journalists to stadium sell-outs, Kings of Leon-style.
Their sound has certainly changed. Richer and more melodic, Bridwell’s vocals have matured and they sound happier and more content with their lot than ever before. There’s even a nod to The Beach Boys’ ‘Sloop John B’ in ‘On My Way Back Home’, a song which fits perfectly with the recent wave of lo-fi surf pop pounding the airwaves.
Band of Horses have always worn their American hearts on their sleeves. But if they once sounded like a bunch of good old boys slugging back bourbon now it’s as if they’ve thrown caution to the wind, bought surfboards and given it all up to live by the beach. They sound all the better for it.