Sound Advice: Brotherly Love EP by Horses
Every Tuesday, Torontoist scours record store shelves in search of the city’s most notable new releases and brings you the best—or sometimes just the biggest—of what we’ve heard in Sound Advice.
If you read only one album review this summer (where’s your attention span?), make it this one, because if there’s one local band you should listen to this year, it’s Horses. There’s no gimmick, no trend, no all-star roster here (how’s that attention span holding up?)—just four dudes with heart, substance, stories, and balls. Their new EP, Brotherly Love, is available now through Juicebox Recording Co., and its roots-tinged, working-class earnestness is as authentic as it gets.
A band-professed “result of a year of touring and name calling,” Brotherly Love may have started as a tour EP, but has easily become a watershed in Horses’ short career. Bridging the more raucous (but way too low-budget) sound from their indie-punk-laced self-titled debut with an unplugged approach, this time around the band let the songs breathe their quiet contemplation into mid-tempos that aren’t as immediately accessible, but are—even when it’s just banjo and harmonica—heavier in every way.
The EP opens with a pair of gritty, plodding tales of two cities (“Danforth and Main,” which can be streamed above, and “New Orleans”), where Horses demonstrate the same simmering societal scrutiny as Ted Leo, and the seamless transition into folk-town proves that the timeless, weighty struggle between blue-collar history and the young and restless urge to fight it is what dictates the sound—not a quest to fulfill a certain scene-approved aesthetic. Lachie MacDonald’s understated vocal gruff steps aside for guitarist Nathan Richards to take the lead on the heart-stopping dirge “For All My Uncles” (Horses is rounded out by Jonathon Hunter on bass and Glenn Barrington on drums), and “The Legion” closes with a ringing, aching resolve of “I will never fill my old man’s shoes/I hang my head with my old man’s blues/I’m not going home,” that could very well make The Boss weep big, manly, common-folk tears.
Surely these nice east coast boys have done the mostly tiring, occasionally serene twenty-four-hour drive from Nova Scotia to Toronto—complete with moments of reflection, hours of boredom, and the humour and humility required to snap you out of your cliché, musing, road-weary head—and Brotherly Love is a snapshot of the evolution and life experience of that travelling, must-see gigging band. Horses’ salt is directly of the earth; there isn’t a bone of pretention in this band. The proletariat-friendly, pay-what-you-can EP
can should must be downloaded here.
Nicole Villeneuve is an occasional JUICEBOXdotcom blogger, but has no association with the Juicebox Recording Co. This does not affect her review, and she would not touch their releases with a ten-foot pole unless she really, truly liked them.