Band of Horses' new record, Infinite Arms, mixes the sound of the Minnesota wilderness and the hills of the Carolinas with soaring strings. It's not surprising, given that the band wrote and recorded the album in various locations across the U.S. — in northern Minnesota, the Carolinas, Muscle Shoals in Alabama, the Mojave Desert and Hollywood.
The band is often characterized by critics as alt-country, and its frontman, Ben Bridwell, has been compared to Neil Young and The Byrds' Roger McGuinn. On this latest record, though, Bridwell's voice has conjured images of Brian Wilson.
"On My Way Back Home" was recorded in the same studio where The Beach Boys created the classic 1966 album Pet Sounds. In fact, Band of Horses used the same echo chambers where those classic Beach Boys harmonies took shape. Bridwell says it was a coincidence that they used the historic equipment.
"They had been using [the echo chambers] as a storage closet for the better part of the last 15 years," Bridwell says, "but they had finally started to clear them out and rewire the system. We helped them push it along by pushing ['On My Way Back Home'] through those echo chambers."
For the most part, Band of Horses recorded Infinite Arms without a producer. Bridwell says the band's members sometimes got too elaborate with their recordings and struggled to rein themselves in.
"The challenge was actually stripping away some of the stuff that we had put on that was maybe heavy-handed," he says.