South Carolina-via-Seattle indie-rock act Band of Horses emerged as one of the most talked-about groups in the genre during early 2000s. Their potent mix of Neil Young-style ragged guitar rock, slightly rootsy twang, and lush reverb-drenched production earned them immediate comparisons to fellow southerners My Morning Jacket; however, the band's second full-length, CEASE TO BEGIN, released on Sub Pop in 2007, proved Band of Horses to be distinct and talented tunesmiths in their own right.
Released in March of 2006, Band of Horses debut Everything All the Time made good on the promise hinted at in their early shows and demos. The band went from early shows opening for friends Iron & Wine, to playing on The Late Show with David Letterman by July, and being nominated as one of ten finalists (along with Joanna Newsom, Beirut, Tom Waits, and, the eventual winner, Cat Power) for the Shortlist Music Prize for that same year. And the record was well-received critically, with celebratory press in Spin, Entertainment Weekly, NY Times, Harp, Billboard, Pitchfork, Magnet, NME, Uncut, and a slew of others. Not a bad place to start. For a lot of reasons, Cease to Begin is the perfect title for this new record. Not only do the songs themselves weave this theme through the record, but stopping and starting anew is also a reflection of the past year and a half for Band of Horses. Though they worked with producer Phil Ek again, as they did on Everything All the Time, much has changed between the fairly recent then and now. There have been band members who have come and gone, including Mat Brooke, who left the band to pursue other interests and his own band. For core members Ben Bridwell, Rob Hampton and Creighton Barrett, there has been a move from Seattle, WA to Mt. Pleasant, SC, a relocation that had been planned for some time so that they could all be closer to their families. And, close friends and family have come and gone some far too early. Necessarily shot through with these experiences, the songs on Cease to Begin are strikingly beautiful, if less elliptical and more straightforward, with more sophisticated arrangements than the last record.
Band of Horses now rest in the hands of South Carolina tenant Ben Bridwell following the departure of his right-hand man Mat Brooke, who bolted to form Grand Archives following the 2006 inauguration Everything All the Time, and the impassioned Bridwell validates out of the blocks, leading off the follow-up album with "Is There a Ghost," an exquisite chunk of pure-pop bliss. With a voice that lands somewhere between the euphoria of Brian Wilson and the anguish of the late Chris Bell (Big Star), Bridwell (and core mates Rob Hampton and Creighton Barrett) appears a modern archetype behind a playlist that teeters among tender ("No One's Gonna Love Me," "Window Blues"), twang ("Marry Song," "Detlef Schrempf"), and turbulent ("Cigarettes, Wedding Bands," the aforementioned "Is There a Ghost"). Using the same producer and regal m.o. as on the debut, Cease punctuates its magnitude among Sub Pop's top-drawer power elite (The Shins and Iron & Wine), asserting this Band of Horses' fast-rising run for the roses. --Scott Holter
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This is the follow up to their debut, Everything All The Time, minus founding
member Mar Brooke but all is well and fully functioinal. They still loosely
stick to their indie rock feel with slight twists that dont loose their original