What does America sound like? We know what it looks like. It's beautiful enough to make you cry. It's ugly enough to make you sick. America’s soul is similarly conflicted. One minute it's a country defined by its benevolence. The next its belligerence shocks the world. The character of American music isn’t so far removed from all that. Whether under the Americana banner or not, the American sound can be characterised as much by its tonal and lyrical referencing to mountains, plains and coasts as it by its timing and placement among the country's short, but rich history. It’s pretty easy to forget that a country’s culture is usually augmented by its music, not so much the other way around. And while Seattle's Band Of Horses may appear a little callow, stood against the greatness of the North American landscape, their third album Infinite Arms glows with that familiar sound, a sound born with an American heart.
Band of Horses' first two efforts-- 2006's grandiose, heart-on-sleeve Everything All the Time and 2007's Cease to Begin-- are practically of a piece. More of a good thing's not usually a bad thing, but even fans of Cease admitted it was a merely lateral move, one Ben Bridwell and his Band have seemingly taken great strides to correct since. Infinite Arms, their third record, took some 16 months to record and was compiled from dozens of tracks. Ryan Monroe, Tyler Ramsey, and Bill Reynolds joined the fold-- Bridwell is now the only member of the band who featured on Everything-- and each of the Horses lent a hand to the songwriting this time around. Hell, Bridwell's even going around saying stuff like "in many ways, this is the first Band of Horses record." And the result of all this new blood, a year-plus of hard work? More of the same, yet somehow much less.
|# 16 -||NPR Listeners (Mid Year)|