Review Throwback: Band of Horses: Mirage Rock

For the last six months of so, I’ve been writing album and show review here and there for my pals over at the music blog Little By Listen. I figured since this is, you know, a music blog, I’d do a little review throwback and post them on The Rock Renaissance as well. I know some of the albums are a little outdated, but so are some of the songs I play on the show. I call it Old School.

BOH

Band of Horses – Mirage Rock

Release: 09/18/12

Band of Horses hail from the musically rich Seattle along with other new Americana bands like Fleet Foxes, Moondoggies, and The Cave Singers. Frontman Ben Bridwell has everything a Seattle rocker needs: a kickass beard and an endless supply of plaid shirts.

Hipster fashion aside, the band relocated to Bridwell’s native South Carolina following their first album, Everything All The Time, and has remained there ever since. The combination of recording in The South and coming from the new folk scene in Seattle has created quite an array of sounds.

Mirage Rock is very much a culmination of genres. Band of Horses is still the indie rock band we’ve come to love, but the new album sports loud rockers, poppy sing-alongs, and lots of country twang.

The LP kicks off with the first single, “Knock, Knock,” a forward driving ruckus jam with an undeniably catchy melody. It’s sure to get some radio airplay, please their fans, and suit the suits at major label Columbia.

The album then changes courses, into, well, pretty much everything. There’s a very Seattle folk sound reminiscent of Fleet Foxes on “Slow Cruel Hand of Time,” and later on “Everything’s Gonna Be Undone.” The vocal harmonies and acoustic guitars sound just as beautiful as some of the band’s previous releases.

Beers

BOH gets loud and proud on “Feud” and “Dumpster World.” The latter has a great rocking chorus, but I can’t shake the idea that it’s not about the greatness of dumpster diving. “Feud” is about as booming as I’ve ever heard the band get, and it’s a welcome return to a style that hasn’t been heard since Cease To Begin.

“Long Vows” is the strongest track on the album and showcases the band doing what they do best.  Shimmering harmonies, dual guitars, tender lyrics, and a touch of country give a classic BOH sound reminiscent of classics like “The Funeral.” When I caught the band opening for My Morning Jacket at Red Rocks, their set opened with this song, and the sound in the venue was unbelievable.

“A Little Biblical” and “Electric Music” showcase their country style, but both songs sound a little forced and hokey. “Shut-In Tourist” and “How To Live” are tried and true BOH, both strong numbers, but nothing new. The album closes with “Heartbreak on the 101,” a lonely and desolate love song.

Overall, the album is much like its predecessor, Infinite Arms. It will appeal to a greater audience and be accessible enough for new fans to enjoy. Obviously it’s a bit disjointed with so many different genres, but it has a way of tying itself together. Their earlier work on Cease To Begin had more depth, but Mirage Rock still features a few gems. I’d like to see them explore some of these genres further, maybe even crank up the guitars and rock a little bit more. For now, I’ll just enjoy BOH for what they do best: a little folk, pop, indie, country, and Everything All The Time.

3/5 – Darn Tootin’

3 Records

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