Band of Horses and Chad Van Gaalen share Sub Pop's secrets. - Oh My Rockness

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Band of Horses and Chad Van Gaalen share Sub Pop's secrets.

August 23, 2006
Band of Horses' recent debut album on Sub Pop, Everything All the Time, is clearly one of my favorites of 2006, and I'm tempted to say it's a favorite of the decade (although as a music fan, I sincerly hope the next three and a half years produces many albums that will challenge this one).

These Seattle guys make for one of the finest new bands I've heard in a long time. Think Flaming Lips meets Rogue Wave meets Akron/Family meets a little bit of Nada Surf, and you're left with pretty much perfect sad-shine pop that is right up there with anything their label mates, The Shins have produced (in fact, I might like Band of Horses even more). They have a knack for writing songs that stick.

I saw Band of Horses open for Iron and Wine a long while back and remember being impressed, but something clearly happened in the many months between that show and this album. Now, Band of Horses are more than just an impressive opening act. They are well on their way to becoming indie super stars, and I can't wait to see for myself how they've grown. And there should be none of the all-to-common backlash that comes along with fame. The acclaim isn't about hype and hip haircuts. It's just about appreciating true songwriting skills. Somehow they make their songs (especially "The Funeral") sound completely happy and completely sad, simultaneously. If you can succeed in mixing the two most basic of human emotions and still come out rocking, well, you just gotta be good. Whatever "it" is, this band's got "it."

Opening is Alberta, Canada's Chad Van Gaalen, a Sub Pop label mate of Band of Horses. This guy has been writing songs from the privacy of his bedroom for over 10 years. His songs have that same painful honesty found in guys like Neil Young and Damien Jurado, coupled with the lo-fi distortion and complex orchestration of Sebadoh. At times his songs are contemplative, and at other times they are distorted and just plain loud. Always at play though, is Van Gaalen's intent to rework the "typical" pop song structure. Several of his songs may start out somewhat straightforward, but then will do an abrupt shift in tone and tempo several times, before finding its way to a sensible conclusion. Live, he has help from a full-band, bringing a big sound to a small stage.

Band of Horses and Chad Van Gaalen play The Metro, on Tuesday, September 5th.


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