Concerts Concerts Band Of Horses Balance Ethos and Pathos

Band Of Horses Balance Ethos and Pathos

Band of Horses
Band Of Horses
Jenny and Jonny, The Besnard Lakes
Kool Haus, Ontario
Thurs Oct 21st 2010

Review by: Katie Christensen
Photos by: Robert Ciolfi

For only being together since 2004 tender hearted Indie Rockers Band Of Horses have experienced extreme highs and lows.

Band Of Horses

The band has garnered many fans in a relatively short amount of time, selling out large venues while also going though member turmoil with musicians coming and going. Ben Bridwell (vocals and guitar) is the only original member still standing, and thank God for that, as without him Band of Horses wouldn’t be the same. I like to think of his voice as the love child of Neil Young and Fleet Foxes.

They played a number of songs off their first full-length album Everything All The Time like “The Great Salt Lake” which is very exemplary of BOH sound, beginning with jangly guitar laying low during the opening until the chorus takes off.  They performed “Weed Party” the album's most upbeat track (it begins with Ben yelling "Yehaw!") and “Part One” a heartbreakingly beautiful guitar ballad showing off the band's ability to slow things down without getting boring, exposing glimpses of downheartedness, but with a sense of hope. Which, in the end, is what what Band Of Horses does so well. They balance the ethos and pathos of singing with one’s heart on their sleeve, with all the trappings of country and Southern rock. The lights throughout all performances were superb, especially for Band Of Horses, which also used different visuals to accompany different songs.

From their second album Cease To Begin they performed “Is There a Ghost” which is the first Band Of Horses song that I heard and fell in love with. Again they follow the same patterns they did with their first album, starting off slow and building up with vocals that echo with grandiose reverb, but hey, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. They also treated audience members to “Marry Song” which brings out the twang in Bridwell’s voice, “The General Specific” and “Cigarettes, Wedding Bands” which has a great accusational chorus of "While they lied-dee-die! Lah-dee-dah! While they lied!"

Unsurprisingly, a small number of tunes from Infinite Arms were also performed. This album has not been getting nearly as much positive press as the first two purely because it doesn’t show much growth. Yet there was a sold out Kool Haus full of fans on board with that sound so I don’t see it as a failure. Yes the band moved southeasterly; sound wise and geographically between the first two albums and maybe they only moved laterally in this album, but if you’re a BOH fan, you will dig it. They closed up the evening with down tempo ballad “No One’s Gonna Love You”, “NW Apt.”, and of course “The Funeral” which has been so overplayed (I’m not complaining, just stating the facts) that everyone in attendance bellowed out the lyrics.

Band of Horses   Band of Horses   Band of Horses   Band of Horses   Band of Horses   Band of Horses   Band of Horses   Band of Horses   Band of Horses   Band of Horses  

Jenny and Jonny

Singer, songwriter, child actor, and all around cutie pie Jenny Lewis of the indie rock band Rilo Kiley has started yet another side project; this time with her boyfriend musician Jonny Rice. Together this duo make up Jenny and Jonny... sound familiar? Yes, the urge to associate Jenny and Jonny with She & Him is hard to shake but once hearing them perform, which I did last Thursday at the Kool Haus, I realized more than just an ampersand separates these power couples.

They started off their set with "Committed," an upbeat ballad, with Rice taking the reins on the vocals and Jenny singing sweet background harmonies. This was followed by "Scissor Runner" a tongue and cheek love song with lyrics like “I’ll forgive you, If I outlive you”.  Although they definitely have an indie vibe, there are nice insertions of some driving rock and roll guitar, preventing the group from being unpalatable to those who upchuck at the slightest hint of pop. Although, at times, they do dance on that fine line between power-pop and rock.

If you have ever listened to Lewis’s solo work, specifically Rabbit Fur Coat, you know that she has such a lovely voice, chock full of soul with a little hint of country. I was worried that her frequently showcased soaring a cappella that highlighted the nuances of her crisp alto voice, and is so quintessential of her solo career, would be lost in duet. However, together Jenny and Jonny are equally present and equally heard and they take turns singing back-up for each other which creates a beautiful harmony of their melodic voices.

With such sweet songs sung by two sweethearts, you can get lost in the melody, but if you listen carefully their lyrics are sometimes humorous and biting, taking jabs at each other, like they’re quarreling in song. This is most apparent in "Straight Edge of the Blade" and "My Pet Snakes" where they exchange lines in the catchy chorus "I’d never start a fight (Fantasize about killing me) God it makes me queasy when you smile (Through your jealousy)." I guess insults go down smoother when paired with jangly guitars and pop drum beats.  Most of the songs were from their record I’m Having Fun Now and the the last few were covers off their solo records; two from Lewis and one from Rice.

Although the mood of the songs can sometimes be cheeky and even dark at times, the record is said to be a model of musical egalitarianism. I look forward to this duo growing together as artists — we already know they have the musical chops. I’m Having Fun Now, while cheerful and a good listen, isn’t anything I haven’t heard before; nothing mind blowing. I hope for their next musical project they test the boundaries, as I’m sure together they can create something exceptional. Or, they procreate like rabbits and travel the country like the modern day Von Trapp family; just an idea.

Jenny and Johnny   Jenny and Johnny   Jenny and Johnny   Jenny and Johnny   Jenny and Johnny   Jenny and Johnny  

The Besnard Lakes

Whenever I mention two-time Polaris Award nominees, The Besnard Lakes, people think I am referring to a cottage destination. In fact, I am talking about Montreal-based musicians Jace Lasek (vocals, guitar, keyboards) and Olga Goreas (vocals, bass), completed by Kevin Laing (drums) and Richard White (guitar). I know their sleepy classic rock and (what I like to call) stoner rock sound is not everyone’s cup-o-tea, but I strongly encourage you to put on their most resent release The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night  and let the music speak for itself.

Although sometimes seemingly slow at first glance, their album unfolds beautifully. However, you cannot rush it, just enjoy it and let it come undone. Call it what you will, stoner rock, shoe gazer rock, psych-rock, or indie rock at least we should all be able to agree on the rock aspect. Although the house was not nearly as packed for this opening band as the ones to follow, The Besnard Lakes were the driving factor for my attendance. Live, they are truly epic. Jace and Olga are also husband and wife which is pretty darn endearing too. They accept their natural placement as the Canadian underdogs (or as Lasek says the dark horses), not minding to open for acts rather than headlining.