Band of Horses

Everything All the Time

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Band of Horses is the phoenix ascending from the carcass of Carissa's Wierd, Ben Bridwell and Matt Brooke's former band. (But what happened to the proposed November 16th?) While the penchant for beautiful melody is present everywhere here, that's pretty much where the similarity between both groups stops. Whereas their former project centered itself on slower-than-codeine-cough-syrup-on-a-cold-day, lushly textured sad-pop, Band of Horses is a full-on indie rock band that writes loud, raw, mid-tempo pop songs and really loves Neil Young. Gone are the slow, layered, weepy, singly tempoed songs of heartbreak and loss. No more violins, no more space, no more, no more. Bridwell's vocals are stretched here (and they could be mistaken for Wayne Coyne's or a young Young's on first listen), but he and Brooke have a different m.o. on their new project. They play a plethora of instruments between them, from banjos to pedal steels and piano, and Chris Early pays bass along with an assortment of drummers that includes touring kit man Tim Meining (though Sera Cahoone (another ex-Clarissa's) sits in the chair on about half this set).

The ramped-up electric guitars are a welcome wind blowing through this heavier, denser music. Check the dreamy Chris Bell-meets-Crazy Horse "First Song" or the snare-popping "Wicked Gil," with a killer six-string finale. "Funeral"'s dynamic hints at something less meaty but then kicks into gear. It's nearly anthemic. There are more meditative moments, though. The country-ish "Part One" is acoustic and tender. But "The Great Salt Lake," which follows it, is simply majestic. There is a Beach Boys melody in here somewhere (perhaps something extrapolated from "Sloop John B"?) and Bridwell's vocal warbles dangerously close to B. Wilson's, but is much murkier -- a more blissed-out, distorted jangle-fest. "Weed Party" is a silly, raucous country-rocker that crosses the Byrds with latter-day Hüsker Dü. The closer is the spare, meditative "St. Augustine"; it's as beautiful as Young's "Through My Sails," from Zuma. Everything All the Time isn't a perfect album. It gets a little long in the tooth in places and samey-sounding. The exuberance is the mirror image of Carissa's Wierd's downer reserve; it's as if the fellas were trying really hard -- perhaps a little too hard -- to distance themselves from their previous incarnation. Nonetheless, it's a decent first effort that warrants repeated listening.

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