15 Band of Horses, Cease to Begin
God bless Band of Horses and the horse they rode in on for naming a song after Detlef Schrempf.
As for Cease to Begin, it’s only further proof that BoH, with or without founding member Mat Brooke, are capable of spitting out the finest Neil Young-meets-college rock noise around, a stately clang & rattle worthy of your best hiking boots and ballcap. There’s nothing earth-shattering going on here, but the songs sound like they might’ve been long ago written up in Ray Gun, and for that I love ‘em.
14 Fred Anderson and Hamid Drake, From the River to the Ocean
There isn’t a lull on From the River…, just the warm, rich sound of gifted, like-minded musicians doing what they do best. It’s not too far out, and it’s not too safe; what it might be is a tidy summation of that thing we call jazz circa now, in that it’s a sound Charlie Parker and John Coltrane would recognize, and so could the new breed of noisemakers. What they’d all be recognizing, beyond the details, is what has always made jazz so great after all: the sound and sense of freedom.