Band of Horses
Achieving musical transcendence is a tricky feat, almost definitively. If it happens at all, it happens naturally - and perhaps nobody knows that better than Seattle's BAND OF HORSES. Guitarist/vocalist Ben Bridwell and guitarist Mat Brooke formed Band of Horses in 2004, after their nearly-ten-year run in Northwest melancholic darlings Carissa's Wierd. Carissa's Wierd trafficked in sadly beautiful orchestral pop, songs which told unflinching stories of heartbreak and loss, leavened with defeatist humor. And, Band of Horses rises from the ashes of that well-loved and short-lived band. Buoyed by Bridwell's warm, reverb-heavy vocals (which strangely channel a dichotomous blend of Wayne Coyne, Brian Wilson, and Doug Martsch,) Band of Horses' woodsy, dreamy songs ooze with amorphous tension, longing and hope.
Bridwell and Brooke were songwriting collaborators in Carissa's as well as business partners - Bridwell's Brown Records label originally worked with Carissa's Wierd before he joined the band as a drummer. After playing music with each other for over a decade, Bridwell and Brooke picked up together again when Bridwell began fleshing out his compositions post-Carissa's. "It was really just a natural thing we started doing," explains Bridwell. Initial Seattle-area Band of Horses shows were immediately packed with fans of Bridwell and Brooke; one of the first was, in fact, packed with Sub Pop employees because Band of Horses was opening for their old friends, Iron and Wine. Interestingly, Bridwell was one of the first people to introduce Sam Beam's music to the label, around the same time Sub Pop released Carissa's Wierd's "You Should Be Hated Here" single (a cover of Morrissey's "Suedehead") as part of the Sub Pop Singles Club in 2001. In addition to extensive touring with Okkervil River and the aforementioned Iron and Wine in 2005, the band self-released a self-titled EP sold exclusively at shows and on Sub Pop's website before recording their debut full-length, Everything All the Time, with producer Phil Ek at Seattle's Avast studios.
At times raggedly epic ("The Great Salt Lake") and delicately pensive ("St. Augustine," "Monsters"), Everything All the Time is an album painted gorgeously in fragile highs and lows. On "Monsters," for example, the undeniable aching in Bridwell's delivery, paired with Brooke's peacefully dusty banjo picking point towards solemnity, but brighter textures invariably champion through the darkness. That's part of the genius in the Band of Horses' dynamic: they craft intelligent, classic movements within their songs that result in a perfect balance of desperation and hope, calmness and mania, love and fear.