FROM MY PORCH SWING, I can see dragonflies hunting mosquitoes on the lake. Cotton from the trees floats on the wind like snowflakes. I take a drink and walk inside the cabin to turn the stereo up. I set the glass on the table and sink into my chair. The album's Everything All the Time by Band of Horses. It's a brother of My Morning Jacket and the son of Neil Young, cousins to Built to Spill and Archers of Loaf. Singer Ben Bridwell's voice doesn't spread as wide and thin as Jim James' and isn't as cracked and bleating as Young's, yet similar qualities exist. And, like My Morning Jacket, Band of Horses could bridge that gap between jam bands and indierock. It's both country enough and guitar focused to find that universal line. Perfect for my June day off work.
A Sub Pop backing and warm Pitchfork review propelled the Seattle-based five-piece forward on the hype train. The good press is well deserved. There are three songs on Everything All the Time that make the cut on most of the mix CDs I send to friends—not to detract from the rest of the album, which is great as well.
The first and most frequently mixed song is "Our Swords." It's the song I'll be happiest to hear live when I see them this summer. A rolling bass line pushes the tempo up and carries the lifted melody, and Bridwell's voice sounds as pure and confident here as anywhere on the record. The second song—the song that's probably the greatest accomplishment on the album—is "The Funeral." I'm a sucker for the quiet/loud dynamic and they master it here. A sparse introduction with this guitar effect I can only describe as feathered, lightly singing, "Coming up only to hold you under," and repeating that delicate guitar, staying soft and gentle, until the drums hit and the song splits wide open. It's one of those moments that makes you stop, wait, and then move your head with it when it hits. I love it. The third, "Monsters," is a slow builder. The banjo and slide-guitar duet leads me back out to the porch with a full glass. Bridwell breaks my heart with, "Though, to say we got much hope/if I am lost it's only for a little while" as it picks up, building. Without patience, there is rarely catharsis. This one takes you down in a slow dive, but if you can wait, it gets you back out and up and makes the air taste that much better.
Back outside the sun's lost until tomorrow. The last fisherman is making the day's final troll to the dock. Everyone heeds the dark thunderheads moving in from the east and, the boats loaded, they drive off and into town. On the edge of the water the first raindrops fall. There are flashes of lightning. Then, getting closer now, the thundering sound of horses' hooves. The storm's moving overhead.