Nelson's Dustin Stashko reviews Mirage Rock by Band of Horses
Years ago I went backpacking across Europe by myself with no plans, no friends and no cares. It was a solo mission of spontaneity that took me from country to country. I would get to a train station, look up at the departure board and hop on the next available train to wherever it would take me. I had money in the bank and a wide-eyed innocence that would soon be lost.
I hit Amsterdam. There’s certain (ahem) herbs that are legal there, that make your eyes red, and make every morsel of food you put in your mouth absolutely delicious. Goodbye money and innocence. Oh, and the beer. DO NOT get me started on their beer.
It was there, in my hazy/red eyed state that I stumbled across Band of Horses’ (BOH) first album Cease to Begin. I bought the album solely for their interesting name that I remember laughing hysterically about; garnering evil glares from the fair-chested Dutch women. I had no idea what their music sounded like but fortunately it was just what my ears needed and more importantly, wanted: soaring open chords, bold and genuine lyrics. It will forever rank in my top 10 favourite albums of all time.
Two albums and a major label signing later, we’re looking at their latest Mirage Rock. Singer Ben Bridwell’s voice is still falsetto as ever, but the music seems a lot tighter and deliberate — not as many open chords on this one. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it’s just a different BOH album than what you might be used to. It’s very Americana (don’t worry I had to look that one up to). It’s folksy, bluesy, and almost down-home which makes sense, since the band is from the south where folksy bluesy and down-home run rampant.
Knock Knock is a straight up rock song that belongs on a road-trip playlist.
Slow Cruel Hands of Time embodies the Eagles when the Eagles were still great. I could go on a rant about how the Eagles are a terrible band for charging people money to watch them sit on stools and play less than sub-par performances... but I won’t.
A huge stand-out track on this album is Dumpster World. Very gentle to begin with but half-way through, you’ll hear some fantastic distorted guitars and Bridwell singing like he never has before.
Feud is a barn burner. Yes, a literal barn burner, if this song was playing when I was in a barn, I’d burn it down. You have to smile a bit when Bridwell throws us a break-up lament lyric “I want you to faaaail.”
Mirage Rock is a solid album, with a plethora of great tunes. It sounds a bit different than previous releases, but it’s still their sound. I enjoyed it even without being in a hazy/red eyed state. You’re going to enjoy it too, because we’re friends... right?