Congrats to the bearded BoH!!

My Favorite Album of 2007:
“Cease to Begin”– Band of Horses
Cease to Begin

I became enamored with BoH in 2006, when I heard a song of theirs in a hockey video game soundtrack. I immediately went out and bought their album and was hooked.
Fast forward/ rewind to October 9, 2007 (release day for ‘Cease to Begin”), I snagged a copy of this disc from Newbury Comics in Amherst (best music store around!), but didn’t listen to it until the following day on a road trip…
Em and I listened to it on our drive to “football” that Sunday, and I then ripped to my iPod and took the music with me to work on Monday. Upon first listen, “The General Specific” stood out to the both of us as a fun, engaging, and solid song!
It was a slow process; the falling in love with this cd. Because the band was fresh and new to me in 2006, I couldn’t expect the same “WOW” reaction this time around. Did I have expectations? Sure. Did I over estimate what this album would bring? Nope- that’s entertainment sabotage! I went into this album with an open mind (save for the fact that it was being reviewed favorably in the press).
Over the course of a few days, there were a few songs that stood out to me as immediately good tunes- “Ode to LRC”, “Is There a Ghost”, and obviously “General Specific” all resonated with me right at first listen!
After a few more spins, the depth and breadth of the music totally took me over. This disc is definitely better taken as a whole, and with each subsequent listen that fact became more and more apparent. If this cd were a chocolate bar, it’d be a semi-sweet, semi-dark bar for the fact that the themes explored aren’t dire or sad, but they’re not sunshiny pop songs either. Between lead singer Ben Bridwell’s high tenor which resembles Jim James of My Morning Jacket, and the hard driving and ethereal sound that the band brings to the fold, it just has a sort of real world mundane type of normalcy and sadness that drips from each chord, note, and lyric. Don’t misunderstand those characterizations, the sound and feel isn’t mundane or “normal”, but it just has a “simple man” feel to it- there’s no celebrity being shouted from the microphone, and there’s definitely no facade of excess or embellishment anywhere in their music. Maybe that’s why I gravitate to their sound?

I’m no professional music reviewer for sure, let that be known…. and I’m not keen on plodding through each song- so here’s a snippet of what you’ll find stored in this awesome collection of songs:

“Is There a Ghost” begins the album off with a bang, in the sense that it grabs your attention. The repeated lyrics of “when I lived alone/ is there a ghost in my house”, and “I could sleep” don’t lend much to explanation, but they’re perfectly sung and are fun to sing and listen to. Meanwhile, the hard hitting drums and quick stops/ starts in a song like “Ode to LRC” are a perfect way to get your blood moving during a workout or otherwise- Bidwell chanting the chorus of, “the world is such a wonderful place” making you feel satisfied and calm. Further on down the line is the plaintive and sad “Detlef Schrempf”, (titled after a 90’s NBA player) which makes you ponder grief, wronging, and loss…. while at the same time making you wonder just what the song could be about. With lyrics like “And take a little walk/ when the worst is to come/ When I saw you looking like I never thought/ And say you’re at a loss or forgot/ that words can do more than harm”. Huh, what’s an NBA player have to do with this, hahaha?? Well, anyway the song still rocks…. in the slow, methodical, introspective sort of way. “General Specific” is a rollicking and fun jaunt- fit to be a summery type song possibly- a happy sidestep for this band and this album. One more standout track is album closer “Window Blues”, which comes perfectly after the working man’s lament of “Cigarettes, Wedding Bands”- seamlessly offering a cacophony of the simple mans cure- booze and self destruction!
When taken as a whole, this album really shines. The music is real and grounded, it’s not flashy or superficial. The overall song ratings don’t reflect a super strong album, but when put together this collection really brings the emotion and makes sense. All in all, there was never much doubt about what cd would take 2007’s “Album of the Year” for me! Congrats Band of Horses!

Runner up, and with strong consideration was Josh Ritter’s “The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter”- of which you can read my earlier review here. Also vying for consideration is “Boxer” by The National- another uber-solid collection of music!

Thanks for reading- and stay tuned for my top 10 songs of 2007, as well as other strong album candidates!

AM Son
The Bearded Ones!!


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