Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Reviews:: Horses S/T

Not like that they've actually spent any real time thinking about it I'm sure, but the gents in Horses can't be thrilled with the ascent of Ford and Wal-Mart pitchmen Band Of Horses. Not that they wouldn't be happy that BOH are now likely swimming in a vat of money Scrooge McDuck style, but I'm sure the similarity in their names has resulted in a lot of unnecessary explanations about why they can't get you a deal on that sweet Taurus wagon you've had your eye on.

Kidding aside, Horses was formed in 2005 (side note: Wiki tells me that BOH were also known as Horses when they formed in 2004, but no doubt they changed their name after these second, more superior, Horses came on the scene. Ok, now all kidding aside) by four Halifax-based musicians originally from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia's cradle of traditional Celtic music. Despite their roots, their sound makes it apparent that they look south for inspiration, to the dusty open highways of Americana, and the sounds of Springsteen, Earle, and Guthrie.

Cape Breton has certainly given them one thing though (or at least given frontman Lachie MacDonald, or whoever writes the songs if not Lachie, or Lachie and some combination of other bandmates if Lachie writes the songs in some kind of collaborative effort. Lachie is a fun name to type.) is the insight to write wonderful working class narratives that anyone who calls a small town/city home can relate to. The opener 14 Years and the stirring Weather The Storm are prime examples of this, with the former telling the tale of an absent father returning to the east coast to deal with the death of his son, and the latter being told from the viewpoint of a father being laid off from the steel mill or some other dying industry. A story many people in this province and beyond can, unfortunately, relate to in these days and times.

Certainly vivid lyrics are always welcome, but, for me, wrapping them in an attractive musical package always makes me more likely to go back to the record for repeated listens. Horses certainly have that on lock, with a number of songs that'll have you singing along before you even know the words. The song structures themselves appear fairly simple, but the band adds nice touches like Lachie's vocal ad-libs (he has some of the best "whooa-whoa-whoa"'s in the business) that give the songs plenty of character. The Way You Move uses those whoa's to great effect, and is likely to have everyone in the place moving when it's played live. It's also a good example of the appeal of this album in that it's possibly the most catchy song on the album, but it's also a very sweet song about the power to be found in simply watching your partner sleep after an exhausting day.

The rest of the album is also full of catchy tunes that still have depth. Lay Down, Not Dead Yet, and Gasoline are all great songs that'll keep toes tapping and heads nodding throughout. Gasoline, an ode to the long, open roads faced by touring bands, is particularly excellent, with Glenn Barrington's solid drumming deserving an extra mention.

When I was doing a bit of research for this review, Dr. Google suggested that there might've been some concern last year that Horses were breaking up due to Lachie's move to Toronto, but this doesn't appear to be the case. So if you're looking for something to put a little pep in your step as you start getting out and walking in the sunshine this spring, give Horses a shot.

Posted at 9:13 AM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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