ALBUM: "Cease to Begin"
Backstory: After the dissolution of Seattle cult favorites Carissa's Wierd (not a typo) in 2003, drummer turned singer-guitarist Ben Bridwell started writing songs on his own for the first time. His debut with Band of Horses, "Everything All The Time," was released by Sub Pop in early 2006 and earned some the year's best reviews.
Verdict: Bridwell bounces seamlessly between boozy dustups drawn from the well of Southern rock and faultlessly fragile Pacific Northwest indie-pop; on the latter count, "No One's Gonna Love You" and "Detlef Schrempf" provide a devastating back-to-back emotional punch. Aside from the cinematic opener ("Is There a Ghost"), "Cease to Begin" feels more dialed down than the debut, but countrified laments and slow-paced, reverb-powered romance suit Band of Horses very well. The only downside is that the 35-minute runtime feels noticeably thin.
X-Factor: Prior to the ignition of his own unexpected career as a band leader, Bridwell earned good karma by introducing fellow South Carolinian Sam Beam (of Iron & Wine) to Sub Pop. The two bearded Southern boys are now two of the hottest commodities on Seattle's storied label.
Band of Horses
Old-soul indie-rockers excel on their brisk second album
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