Current indie-rock favorites Band of Horses made it easy to play “spot the influence” at the Avalon. The South Carolina (by way of Seattle) band is something of a compendium of previous indie-rock favorites.
Lead singer Benjamin Bridwell’s high, desultory tenor is a close relation of the Shins’ James Mercer, the spacey, sweet and sour harmonies of keyboardist Ryan Monroe push things toward Uncle Tupelo; when the guitars build to massive, echoing anthems, they resemble My Morning Jacket, when they turn small and cribbed, they favor Built To Spill. But oddly, over the 90-minute set, the band’s combination of Seattle guitar noise with Southern harmonies, the style that’s most evoked is the country-rock of the ’70s.
It’s a bit messier and not nearly as sunny — even when Bridwell gets optimistic, remarking that “the world is a wonderful place” on “Ode to LRC” (from their sophomore Sub Pop album, “Cease to Begin”), he quickly undercuts it with a refrain of “la-di-dah” — but songs such as “The General Specific” and “No One’s Gonna Love You,” lope and drawl along like something out of Poco or Pure Prairie League.
It’s when the band sounds most like itself that things get a little dodgy. “Detlef Schremph” is the kind of lumbering, attenuated song with a feckless, barely developed melody that every band has which the faithful holds up as proof of soulful authenticity; to the unconvinced it’s like watching a slow-motion kaleidoscope: what’s there is nice, but you keep waiting for something to happen.