New To Me – New To You… Horse Thief

Bands with animals in the name, that’s my starting point here, where I’m going with it I’m not quite sure yet I’m not going to lie.

Grizzly Bear, they’re pretty good right? Ok so Shields was sort of dull, but that Two Weeks song was ace, and that one they did for Blue Valentine with the whistling (who am I kidding I know it’s called “Shift” it’s a bloody brilliant song!). How about Fleet Foxes? They’re pretty great, not sure what’s taking them so long with that third album, maybe they should stop messing about with Van Dyke Parks and get on with it yeah?! What those two have in common (well one thing, the also share a huge amount of critical acclaim and impressive sales figures) is that they’re actually pretty sensible names. Bears are grizzly, Foxes are fleet, Mice could even be considered modest at times (well not really, they don’t have the mental capacity to grasp the concept if we’re being honest), you certainly could try and tame an Impala. I however drew the line at Freelance Whales!

It was a bit of cliche back in the late two thousands. Bands everywhere would sit down at those early meetings to come up with a name, “hmm what shall we do, how shall we name this thing. Well sod it I can’t think of anything good, lets take an animal and bung an adjective on the end, if Freelance Whales can get away with that bag of crap name we can get away with Oblique Aardvark” the possibilities were endless, and then they suddenly stopped. The bands with animals in the title dried up, we would get no Confused Capybara, no Dystopian Squid and saddest of all no Oblique Aardvark. Instead we got names like Drenge, has that made the world a better place? Well I’ll leave that decision up to you!

Luckily like the land that everyone forgot Bella Union has ploughed on releasing records by bands with animals in the name! Be it electro duo I Break Horses, Grizzly Bear side project  Department of Eagles (double animal name props all round my good men) or even label boss himself Simon Raymonde’s own project de jour Snowbird. So here’s to the animals, long may people bung their names into bands for no obvious reason whatsoever…


Horse Thief are Cameron Neil on vocals and guitar, Cody Fowler on the bass, Zach Zeller on keys (presumably the Zinedine Zidane of the keyboard, or at least the Zlatko Zahovic), Alex Coleman on guitar, and the brilliantly named Alberto Roubert on the drums.

They do the whole American rock thing as mined previously by the likes of My Morning Jacket & Band Of Horses. Lots of interweaving guitar lines, crashing drums and plenty of splendid crescendos of noise.

They originally hail from Denton in Texas, like Midlake, Josh T Pearson and (of course) Bowling For Soup. They latterly moved to Oklahoma to study at the Academy of Contemporary Music. In between those two things they also popped off to Creede in Colorado to do some writing. Here endeth the most details “where?” section I’ve ever written.

Well they released their debut EP Grow Deep, Grow Wild last year (you can here it on their bandcamp page), and it was picked up by Bella Union here and they’ll follow that up with their debut full length album Fear In Bliss on April 14th.

Well if you like Midlake you’re likely to see them whether you want to or not as they’re supporting their fellow Texans on their forthcoming UK tour.  Beyond that there’s an awful lot to like here, they have the same sense of energy as the early days of Band Of Horses but a touch more sense of song structure and melody. Singer Cameron also has a mighty impressive ginger beard if you like that sort of thing! For a band so early in their career they have a wonderful variety to their sound, from the epic and echo laden single “I Am The Bear”, where the vocals even has a hint of Morrisey, to the more sedate folky number “The Magician” even in a five track ep there was a host of promise here. Best of all is new single Devil, which adds a pop sentiment to their sound which is rather delightful.

Why not?
Men with beards from the mid-west isn’t exactly going ring out as something new and original anymore, and they could be in danger of playing it too close to their influences. There’s enough originality and song craft here to avoid that though, and ultimately if you like that sort of music you, like myself, will be a huge fan of Horse Thief

Horse Thief support Midlake on their February UK tour and release debut album Fear In Bliss on Bella Union in April

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