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Cease to Begin 

CD Review: Band of Horses

The Deal: Countrified indie rockers release an incredible follow-up to an already impressive debut.

The Good: "What the writers say/ means shit to me now," sings Band of Horses frontman Ben Bridwell on their sophomore effort. Well, darn. Then maybe I won't say how completely awesome the record is from beginning to end, how Band of Horses has honed their sound to perfection or how the disk hasn't left my CD player for almost a month. Rather than striking out in a different direction, Cease simply and beautifully refines the lovely, nostalgic glow that characterized the bands' celebrated debut Everything All the Time. Bridwell's voice sounds brighter, the instrumentation is tighter and the songs are altogether more melodic. Somehow, Cease manages to preserve the reverb-laden mellowness and slight country twang that characterized Everything – but loses the distance. Opening track "Is There A Ghost" is a pop-rocker with heavy guitar fuzz; "No One's Gonna Love You," is a tender and bittersweet ballad. "Detlef Schrempf" is a swaying shoe-gazer and "Marry Song" has a full-on country swing that reflects the South Carolina boy's roots. But despite the slight genre shifts, almost every track on Cease is as powerful as Everything classics "The Funeral" and "The Great Salt Lake." All together a more accessible, more melodic and more sophisticated take on what was already damn good.

The Bad: The only slight bobble is "Lam on a Lam (In The City)," a 50 second teaser that never fully develops into a tune.

The Verdict: One of the best records of the year.

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