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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Band of Horses
Cease To Begin
Sub Pop

Rating: 8.7/10 ?


January 7, 2008
To look at him, one would never suspect the purity of Ben Bridwell's voice. I for one was far from smitten with the My Morning Jacket resonance in the sound of Band of Horses' acclaimed Everything All the Time. To say I first popped Cease to Begin into my stereo under the assumption that it would be anything beyond a clone of their debut would be a lie, but Band of Horses' sophomore release quickly overcame my preconceptions to land as a mainstay on my iPod playlist.

Mat Brooke, Bridwell's musical partner of ten years, left the band between releases and the future of the Horsemen seemed uncertain heading into this album. But what resulted is a testament in it itself, an album that seems to disprove the old "greater than the sum of it's parts" cliché. Like Jeff Tweedy's move to strike out with Wilco delivered ends never attainable while within reach of Uncle Tupelo bandmate Jay Farrar, Bridwell's untangling from Brooke may have given him the independence to craft a sound only hinted at on Everything All the Time. Let freedom ring.

Track after track, Bridwell's assured vocals inject energy into even the most down-tempo dirge of Cease To Begin, a record that, in the hands of nearly any other voice, would have been a sluggish cycle of dragging ballads. The gorgeous ascendance of "No One's Gonna Love You" builds anticipation for two minutes before the first chorus, and Bridwell croons, "Things start splitting at the seams now," the open-ended verse/pre-chorus/chorus structure finally makes perfect sense. "Detlef Schrempf" similarly builds poetic and melodic tension before its release; the payoff comes just shy of the magical two-minute mark. When the chorus finally arrives it insists, "When eyes can't look at you any other way,/ Any other way, any other way/ When eyes can't look at you any other way,/ Any other way, any other way." The listener has paid his dues with this track and the rewards are handsome.

Bridwell's mature songwriting has grown by leaps and bounds in the duration since Everything All the Time, and only now has Band of Horses' music managed to catch up to the plaintive and powerful vocals. The "General Specific" treads new territory with its handclapped percussion and super catchy vocal-driven chorus, and while not as married to the cavernous production as some of the other cuts, the track fits in cleanly with Bridwell giving an assured vocal performance highlighted by his gorgeous falsetto runs.

The natural maturation of Ben Bridwell's vocals and songwriting, bolstered by an increase in creative control, has yeilded what is easily one of 2007's best albums in Cease to Begin. Writing about music long enough can turn even the softest heart into a true critic. Cease to Begin reminds me what it's like to trust a band. Band of Horses, with Bridwell in the lead, demonstrates the craft of creating not just songs but an album. I can turn this on in the subway and just let it play, allowing each time spent with it to harvest new revelations. This leaner Band of Horses, with a sound both intimate and symphonic at once, won't let me down.

Reviewed by Jeff McMahon
No biographical information is currently available.

See other reviews by Jeff McMahon

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