Local psych-rock outfit Horse Thief’s first album, “Grow Deep, Grow Wild,” blasts open with a Gothic church organ undercut by some very subtle guitar scratching for texture.
So Cameron Neal (my latest local-rock man-crush) and his band of teenaged
ACM@UCO students (drummer Preston Greer was the only Horse Thief-er whose hands
lacked big, smeary X’s inside Friends Bar last night) sounded even larger, more
looming and fierce than their Sooner Soundwave show in Norman last weekend,
which was my first experience hearing them in person. With all the pressure and
anticipation of the festival, I feel like they really raised the bar on local
performances at SXSW.
First off, Mr. Neal has this awesome old man authoritative rock voice that he
adopts for narrative purposes on songs like “The Magician.” Most of Horse Thief’s
topicality is mystical nonsense wrapped around nuggets of wisdom, so it’s a
useful persona, and it gets really entertaining when he starts dumping sweat
and shaking it all out in his impressive beard.
But yeah, it was really nice to see — after The Boom Bang’s raucous mess and The Non’s cerebral movements — a throwback-style band that earnestly wants to rock, while also trying to innovate a bit (they’ve got a keyboard that generates an organ sound which distinguishes them from most any other local band I know of). Cody Fowler looks up into the sky when the song calls for his bass notes to wobble all over the place and Greer makes an O-face when he gets to punish the snares. And Danny Rose looks about as happy shredding his guitar apart as Kevin Durant looks when he hits a 24-foot-stepack three.
Also, it should be noted that two members of The Boom Bang got kicked out of Friends for being rowdy at some point during Horse Thief's set which is impressive, because there was only The Non's in between them.
Photo by Doug Schwarz
Grateful Dead, American Beauty (1970)
From the nine months before I was born until now, this album and every other album by The Grateful Dead has been playing in my life. The free-spirit sound and attitude of this band is a huge part of who I am today. This would be a band that has changed the way I’ve thought about more life situations than religion. The smooth feeling of folk with a blend of psychedelic sound waves on this album speaks to me in ways little music does.