Listen to Band of Horses' new album Cease To Begin on MySpace and/or Rhapsody...
"I started [Band of Horses] because the band I was in [Carissa's Wierd] broke up and there was really nothing for me to do. I don't have any skills to go into the work force and actually make a living for myself, which I've proven by being totally down and out many times. So, if anything, there is the drive I guess to just, to fucking succeed," says 29-year-old high school dropout and rising indie stud Ben Bridwell. "It's a drive to do this and to pull everything I have within myself to try to share some emotion. To express joy and sadness or whatever but also to, I don't know, just try to stab people and make them feel emotion."
If there's one thing Bridwell is doing right, it's tapping emotions. He's not the most talented guitarist, he's self-conscious on stage and hides behind a warm mountain of reverb when he sings, but when all the pieces line up, it's magic. Bridwell broke on the scene with Band of Horses' 2006 masterpiece Everything All The Time, which shocked the music world by selling over 80,000 units. This was his first foray into songwriting and frontman duties. Prior to Everything, Bridwell bounced around the country, slept in doorways, started a record label to put out albums by his friend's group Carissa's Wierd and eventually joined the band to play drums. No one, not even Bridwell himself, had any idea what he was capable of. In fact, Bridwell still has no clue how good he is. "I tend to self-doubt," he says. "I constantly think I'm a douchey shit-bag."
He's a reluctant, self-deprecating star, but a star nonetheless. For many, this writer included, it was "The Funeral" off Everything that cemented their love of this band with a special, new voice. And again, it all comes down to the emotion. I was in Africa when "The Funeral" took over my life. I had just found out my mother passed away and I was heading from the Serengeti to Nairobi, where I would embark on a 36 hour journey against the sun to plan the funeral. I sat on a dirty, hot, dilapidated bus and listened with wet, closed eyes to Bridwell. His tarnished voice easing me in some strange way, reminding me that pain is part of life – a really big part. With my wife next to me, and Band of Horses in my head, I made it home.
When music speaks to your soul, when it creeps into your being, attaching itself and flowing through your veins, you know you've found that "X Factor" that takes art to a different level. When a song is capable of giving us strength and reminding us we are not alone but part of something larger, all floating together on this rock around the sun, it becomes more than notes and words. It is a foothold to the higher power that resides in us all. Coming off a debut of this magnitude, one that seemed to drop out of nowhere from the heavens to captivate the nation, I was sure the follow-up would be a letdown. It wasn't only the sophomore slump or the fact that I just didn't believe a rookie like Bridwell had another one in him, but Band of Horses co-founder and the far more musically experienced half of the duo, Mat Brooke, departed after the debut, leaving the whole bag in Bridwell's lap. How could Bridwell ever record an album anywhere near the same league as Everything All The Time? Cease to Begin (released October 9 on Sub Pop) would be lucky to just stay afloat. Talk about selling a fella short. Sorry Ben. I just didn't realize you were one of "them." It appears that Ben Bridwell has got "It" because Cease To Begin is another incredible piece of work which debuted by moving more than 20K the first week, landing them right around the Top 40.
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