Band of Horses
2005's Everything All Of The Time was a surprise hit for me, coming from the back of the pack like a young Steve Cram to stream ahead and take gold. The gift that kept on giving, it seemed to just get better and better with the most obvious high point The Funeral quickly matched by several other classic tracks.
After the success of that album things seemingly fell apart from the band, with co-founder Mat Brooke departing to form a new band Grand Archives - leaving Ben Bridwell to continue under the Band of Horses name with a completely overhauled squad for album number two.
May's UK visit soon put to bed any doubts about the band's future, with Bridwell's beefed-up foot-stomping style taking centre stage for one of my gig's of the year. New songs like Lamb Of The Lam and Ode To LRC sounded great - for once, rather than lulling the crowd between the well-known 'hits' it actually really got the gig going. Cease To Begin quickly became a most-anticipated-of-007 release.
That early accolade became a mixed blessing, as while the foot-stomping style provides many of the album's high points - the departure of second songwriter Brooke may also be responsible for some of the albums shortcomings. While it is an album packed full of great songs and no duds, there somehow seems to be less variation between songs and the highs are possibly not quite as memorable.
Bottom line: Is There A Ghost?, Ode To The LRC, Marry Song, Cigarettes, Wedding Bands, Window Blues - all awesome. A great second album from a band that are only going to get better. And they rock live.