Band of Horses, "Infinite Arms"
Band of Horses has crafted the perfect major-label debut. After releasing its gloriously reverb-heavy 2006 debut, "Everything All the Time," and avoiding the sophomore slump with 2007's "Cease to Begin," the Seattle rock outfit parted ways with Sub Pop and signed with Columbia Records this spring. Fittingly, the group's latest release, "Infinite Arms," seems to exist on a larger scale than its predecessors and softens the band's rougher edges. The song "Neighbor" is driven by gentle bass progressions and hymn-like vocal harmonies before becoming a Southern jam, while the stomping rhythm and mammoth chorus of first single "Compliments" make it the most flat-out enjoyable track the band has ever recorded. Frontman Ben Bridwell's airy vocals and cozy lyrics have stayed consistent, but the impressive production work by the band and Phil Ek places the gorgeous melodies front and center without sacrificing Band of Horses' rustic power. --Jason Lipshutz