|Horse Thief — Fear In Bliss |
Horse Thief — Fear In Bliss
♣♦ Horse Thief’s two biggest — and most obvious — influences are Workingman’s Dead/American Beauty era of the Grateful Dead and the songwriter side (and vocal tics) of Neil Young.
♦♣ Cameron Neal’s vocals are phenomenal. He has this ability to shift from sounding completely at peace to the precipice of becoming unhinged.
♣♦ ‘A satisfying nod to where the band came from, but a perfect indicator of where we're all going...’
Location: Denton, TX ~ Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Album release: April 14, 2014
Record Label: Bella Union
01. Intro 0:31
02. I Don't Mind 4:52
03. Human Geographer 4:05
04. Devil 4:29
05. Holding On 4:36
06. Already Dead 3:27
07. Little Dust 3:42
08. Dead Drum 4:09
09. Let Go 5:13
10. Come On 5:22
11. Warm Regards 5:22
øΛø All tracks written by Cameron Neal
≡•≡ Cameron Neal vocals, guitars, keys; Alberto Roubert on drums, Cody Fowler on bass, Zach Zeller on keys, and Alex Coleman on guitar
øΛø Joshua Boydston Art Direction
øΛø Alex Coleman Guitar
øΛø Cody Fowler Bass
øΛø JJ Golden Mastering
øΛø Horse Thief Arranger, Producer
øΛø Thom Monahan Engineer, Mixing, Producer
øΛø Cameron Neal Composer, Guitar, Lyricist, Vocals
øΛø Alberto Roubert Drums, Percussion
øΛø Doug Schwarz Photography
øΛø Cameron Standberg Photography
øΛø Zach Zeller Keyboards, Organ, Vocals (Background)
By Ross Horton | posted on 14 Apr 2014 | Score: ***½
øΛø There’s a track by Dizzy Gillespie (feat. John Coltrane) called You Stole My Wife, You Horse Thief. It’s a sexist title, granted, but what a fantastic tune. Whether the Oklahoma band Horse Thief were named after that tune remains to be seen, but their music couldn’t really be much further away from Dizzy’s jolly bar-room boogie.
øΛø If you like Fleet Foxes and Grizzly Bear (who doesn’t?), and the Dark Was The Night charity CD, chances are you’ll already have earmarked and subsequently bought this record. It’s a fine continuation of the recent spate of records borrowing from the finest folk records and crafting them into different strains of indie or rock music(s).
øΛø The 11 tracks that make up Fear In Bliss represent a tasteful and refined stylistic shift from a looser variety of indie-folk towards a cleaner, ‘polished’ sound. This isn’t to their detriment, however; the songs feel brighter and hit more than they miss. Cameron Neal’s songs on the first record, Grow Deep, Grow Wild, were wistful, nostalgic shards of beautiful Americana and here they’re of an equally estimable quality.
øΛø After some intro noise, the shimmering I Don’t Mind kicks into gear with some distorted chords and insistent, barrelling percussion. The track builds towards ecstatic choruses with low-key, rolling verses — some superb rhythm guitar and Neal’s distinctive, charming vocal timbre turn the track into an album highlight.
øΛø There are other highlights, of course. Human Geographer has pleasant Sparklehorse vibes and less pleasant echoes of Mumford and Sons, but the former outweighs the latter by some margin. It feels relentlessly modern despite the reliance on a bygone-era aesthetic, and is another showcase for Neal’s superb vocal abilities.
øΛø The downbeat vibe of Already Dead is a pleasure: Gene Clark’s majestic No Other is being disinterred by Horse Thief’s contemporaries for another summer showcase at End of the Road festival, but this track seems like an audition for Horse Thief’s presence on a hopefully inevitable White Light supergroup-powered tour. In simpler terms, it’s a haunting and hugely endearing cut.
øΛø Dead Drum’s Tom Petty-esque strummed rhythm and quirky vocal melody is another treat — artists as diverse as The Men and The War On Drugs have shown deference to Tom Petty in recent years, and this track is a superb rendition of a classic formula.
øΛø The relatively radical step they take on Come On is surprise — it’s a minimal, rhythm-led number with some superb guitar work from Neal and Alex Coleman. Alberto Roubert’s sympathetic drumming is of a high standard throughout, and his ability to provide the necessary kinetic heft is no more apparent than on Come On.
øΛø Album closer Warm Regards uses ethereal keyboard chords to maximum effect — the track is a delicate, washing bucolic lullaby and a fitting end to a great record. It’s amongst the best cuts from either of Horse Thief’s records, and is an exciting indication of where Neal’s songwriting could go on future releases.
øΛø Comparisons to better-known and more-established acts can do young bands a disservice, but when the US is cultivating such a strong reputation for folk-tinged indie (or vice-versa) in recent years, the comparisons become essential. Horse Thief are a different beast to either Fleet Foxes or Grizzly Bear, granted, but they’re in the same ballpark in terms of quality. A better comparison would be Beach House, a cult favourite that grew into their fearsome reputation by gradually cleaning up and refining their sound until they hit the jackpot with the glorious Bloom. Horse Thief will inevitably hit the jackpot, and Fear In Bliss is a mighty step in that direction.
øΛø "Up their woolly 2011 indie debut, Go Deep, Go Wild, Oklahoma City quintet Horse Thief deliver a more subdued but ultimately better-built sophomore effort with Fear in Bliss. With the aid of producer Thom Monahan (Pernice Brothers, Devendra Banhart), they’ve taken the beard trimmer to their bristly, haphazard psych-folk and shaped it into something more accessible, putting the focus on frontman Cameron Neal’s improved songwriting.
øΛø Horse Thief have come a long way since their humble teenage beginnings in Denton, Texas, and while their debut for Britain’s Bella Union label still owes a debt to their major influences (Fleet Foxes, Grizzly Bear), Fear in Bliss finds them beginning to settle into their own identity. Embracing the open frontier aesthetic of their adopted Oklahoma home and adapting it to 11 tracks of warm, guitar-led indie pop, Horse Thief sound infinitely more self-assured and comfortable here. Between the dusty glow of tracks like “Human Geographer” with its unique arpeggiated breakdown and the wistfully punctuated “Let Go,” they dial in their parts and let the subtle psych elements tastefully color the background. They let the album breathe and develop at its own pace, even letting the straighter folk elements shine on the all-acoustic ballad “Already Dead.” The generally sparkling guitar work throughout the album at times recalls the minimalist pop of Real Estate, but the overall wide-angled grandeur has more in common with the epic prairie fires of Lord Huron tempered with the Americana-leanings of Blitzen Trapper. With the type of folky psych pop Horse Thief employ, the playing field is wide and comparisons to similar-minded bands are going to be inevitable. Still, Fear in Bliss is a lovingly crafted and well-written album by a young band coming into its own."
Press: Kip Kouri — kip[at]tellallyourfriendspr[dot]com
Agent: US | firstname.lastname@example.org UK | PaulB@freetradeagency.co.uk
Gen. dir.: Scott Marsh — email@example.com
BY STEVE LAMPIRIS, 07 APRIL 2014, 16:30 BST | SCORE: 7.5/10
By William Moss, 03 April 2014 | SCORE: 8/10
By WOODY on APRIL 24, 2014
BenG_Writes | March 20th, 2014 ⋅
By Max Mazonowicz | Score: 7
By Timothy Monger | Score: ***½
By Stephe Sykes
8.0 | The 405
øΛø It's this transatlantic smorgasbord of elements from across the alternative rock spectrum that makes this debut a success
8.0 | Mojo
øΛø Their musical blueprint is a bit R.E.M., a bit more Midlake.
7.5 | The Line Of Best Fit
øΛø An excellent listen
7.0 | music OMH
øΛø Horse Thief are a different beast to either Fleet Foxes or Grizzly Bear, granted, but they’re in the same ballpark in terms of quality. A better comparison would be Beach House
7.0 | Uncut
øΛø It's an easy, unchallenging ride, but a satisfying one.
7.0 | All Music
øΛø A lovingly crafted and well-written album by a young band coming into its own
7.0 | Clash
øΛø ‘Fear In Bliss’ is as catchy as a cold... it’s just irresistible and should proudly sit alongside the successes of their Bella Union labelmates
7.0 | The Digital Fix
øΛø Holding up well to repeated listening, Fear In Bliss gives a little more depth on each listen
6.0 | The Irish Times
øΛø Ear-catching, easygoing debut
6.0 | The Music (Australia)
øΛø Lined with impressive instrumentals; the syncopation at the beginning of Come On is one such example
6.0 | Q
øΛø Episodic songs full of dramatic dips and turns.
|Horse Thief — Fear In Bliss |