Friday, April 9, 2010

Album Review: Drughorse One

Drughorse One

Drughorse One pretty much just shattered the mold for what we have come to expect from musician collective compilation releases. Comps are often an enjoyable one-listen jaunt as you put a sound to a name for a band you haven't experienced before and possibly wouldn't have had they not been on a disc with a group you were already down with. Drughorse One attacks this model from all directions starting with the notion that multiple bands on a release is a comp, which this one isn't. It is true that MAX Indian, Ryan Gustafson, and The Light Pines compiled a pair of songs each for this disc but make no mistake these tracks have been matched and mastered as an album and it flows as good as any you're about to hear this summer.

Drughorse One sets off with the long awaited first physical hold-it-in-your-hand-and-look-at-it release for The Light Pines, "White Forest". A deft mix of stretchy melody enforcing synth and patient yet aggressive guitar, "White Forest" is a perfect flagship for a band whose coming of age has been as varied as the emotions this track invokes. Both Light Pines tracks on Drughorse One impress and deliver, lending as much to the anticipation of what is to come for Light Pines as much as they lend to the over-all tone of this album.

Continuing with a theme of long awaits, Drughorse One offers up two of the first new tracks from the dojo of MAX Indian which we've seen in what feels like an eternity. Within these two tracks, MAX Indian builds upon their legacy of engaging hooks and hit songs with the courage to experiment and the ability expound. "Never and Always" undeniably comes from the MAX Indian universe possessing their thumb print smooth sultry melodies over Southern rock rhythms yet the boys have intrigued it up with something different, a low key and sinister organ has moved in and become fast friends with slap-strumming guitar grooves and slow rolling back beats. The experimenting becomes even more profound and entertaining on their second track "Dark of Night" and together combine for the something new that invites you to fall for their sound all over again.

With a couple of tracks that seem like they could have come out in the golden age of classic rock, Ryan Gustafson is the cement that makes this collection of tracks an album. I love that I can somehow get a nostalgia fix about places I've never been to and things I've never seen just by listening to "Heaven". There is a vintage 60's fuzz that reminds me of the feeling I get every time I watch a Woodstock documentary or see a hazy clip of a classic rock era band drenched in the sunlight of a festival stage. Both of Ryan Gustafson's tracks maintain a good soothing retro vibe but its the song crafting that finishes the time and place feel. The images and moods captured in the versus are a relatable experience in any decade.

Standing as both a sample of three must-see acts and as an album with its own virtues, Drughorse One has as much relevance to the current indy music culture in Chapel Hill as it has power to stay spinning in your CD deck. All hail the energy that the Drughorse Collective is building up. I've had this album for less than two weeks and I'm already looking forward to Drughorse Two? --Carrboro Ninja

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