steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

They Shoot Horses Don't They?

"Boo Hoo Hoo Boo" CD

Kill Rock Stars

Genre: umm...

Kill Rock Stars
120 State Ave NE
PMB 416
Olympia WA 98501

June 2006

Eclectic to a fault and eternally hunting for a good time, They Shoot Horses Don't They? is a Vancouver-based septet (yeah, septet) that sounds something like circus music played by a bunch of art school students. And that's kind of what it is. In this noisy, eclectic mess you'll find scraps of indie rock, Klezmer, jazz, and countless other genres. It sounds it belongs moreso on 5RC than KRS. At times I'm reminded of citymates Black Mountain and countrymates The Unicorns (RIP), though this is considerably less accessible than those two. Some are gonna love it, some are gonna hate it... what can I say?

Boo Hoo Hoo Boo starts off with the distinctly over-the-top "Emptyhead" and never really lets up, aside from the odd few minutes of keyboard pop ("Concussion"). Lively horns, with a ska-like energy but a sound unlike anything the tired genre has produced, play an important role in TSHDT's formula, contributing to the bazaar-like mood inherent in the album. "Three" is a typical song - it starts with a piano part and a wrangling guitar riff before swirling into a climactic explosion of goofy group vocals and sweeping horns. Finale "Apple" is probably the album's most readily accessible song; led by a catchy horn part and a bouncy rhythm section, it closes the disc off on a typically positive note. So this stuff is fun, for sure, though it can be difficult to get into and hard to get a hold on. Liveliness is indeed important, though I only wish there was a bit more melody and a bit less absurdity involved here.

My suggestion? See these guys live, as they're bound to sound their best in person; if you like it enough, pick this up. Having never seen the troupe in the flesh, I don't find myself falling in love with this disc.

MP3 (from Emptyhead


Fun Fact: They Shoot Horses Don't They? takes its name from the 1969 film of the same name, featuring Jane Fonda and following the story of a dance marathon taking place during the Depression. The movie, directed by Sydney Pollack, was in turn adapted from a book, written by Horace McCoy. You got all that?

Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 11 tracks, 39:45 duration, distributed by the label, released Feb 21, 2006]