Rhythm & Views

Band of Horses

A couple of months ago, a record-store clerk let me in on a little secret: There was this new band for fans of groups like The Shins and My Morning Jacket. Well, those hipster-tested groups may be why--perhaps to that dude's chagrin--you can't currently read a music blog, Web site, or magazine without some mention of Band of Horses, the indie-phenom of 2006.

Sounding like a lo-fi version of My Morning Jacket, Band of Horses is ready-made for the kind of success surrounding them. Consisting of guitarist/vocalist Ben Bridwell and guitarist Mat Brooke (both vets of the late Carissa's Wierd), the band opted out of the typical hit-and-miss debut album plight, instead making Everything All the Time just about the catchiest damn album of the year.

While it's the anthems that have people flapping their jaws nonstop, the band's more restrained moments are equally endearing. "I Go to the Barn Because I Like the" is a lap-steel ballad that matches its caged optimism with a surplus of gradually soaring instrumentation. Elsewhere, album closer "St. Augustine" is a reverberated acoustic duet with the comfortably resigned chorus: "I know you tried / I know your curse / I know your best was still your worst / when Hollywood was calling out your name."

However, if it's stadium-filling sounds you crave, the group has three blockbuster anthems. The sparkling propulsion of "The Funeral" is an instant classic, while the gradual appeal of the throbbing "The Great Salt Lake" and the increasingly transcendent "Monsters" are equally wonderful. Even if Band of Horses is altogether familiar, their staying power leaves their competition at the starting gate.