When: Fri., April 23, 6 p.m. and Sat., April 24, 6 p.m. 2010
On "The General Specific," the fifth track from Band of Horses' second album, 2007's Cease to Begin, frontman Ben Bridwell sounded like the happiest man alive: "What the writers say, it means shit to me now," he exclaimed above a cheap piano and sloppy harmonies that would've behooved The Band aboard The Festival Express. "Plants and animals/ We're on a bender when it's 80 degrees/ The end of December."
Only a year before, the writers—specifically, a bunch of indie rock bloggers and their starship, Pitchfork Media—had essentially launched the career of the new sad-eyed Seattle band, fawning over their Sub Pop debut and its arch, reverb-gilded guitar rock. But Bridwell and his boys returned South, moving to Mount Pleasant, S.C. The change of scenery was a good look: The slow-burning guitar numbers simply burned brighter and better, though the new, more punchy side they'd added was the real triumph. Bridwell never sounded more confident as a lead singer than he did on "Ode to LRC," and on "The General Specific" he seemed determined to transcend the solemnity that debut had suggested. He was having fun.
That's what's most disappointing about the two tracks the band's new label, Columbia, has shared from the forthcoming Infinite Arms; "Laredo" is a stiff, stock rock tune, an inquiry for a lover that seems mostly obsessed with restating the hook and looking for the exit; "Compliments" grafts the grit of Neil Young's trusty electric, Old Black, to the most pedestrian lyrics and listless arrangement in the band's catalogue. Tonight and tomorrow, they'll open for perennial springtime tourists Widespread Panic and likely unveil a chunk of Infinite Arms, due May 18. Let's hope that in the seasonal Carolina air the new material emerges with the same vitality as "The General Specific." —Grayson Currin