The Rocking Horse Winner – State of Feeling Concentration

The Rocking Horse Winner
State of Feeling Concentration

A few years ago, it seemed that every band suddenly had a female singer. There were more female singers than male, it appeared. And everywhere we were treated to one gorgeous female voice that outdid the last. In the realm of indie rock, however, the appearance of female singers for rock bands – not just pop bands – is now much more of a rarity. That’s why The Rocking Horse Winner’s album is so timely. The female vocals here are not overwhelmed by a hundred other like bands.
The problem lies in that the vocals, provided by Jolie Lindholm, overwhelm the songs themselves. Now this isn’t a production issue. Actually, the gorgeous vocals are mixed perfectly with lofty, atmospheric rock music. But the power that Lindholm’s vocals command will draw you in. You’ll remember her voice undoubtedly. You might not remember the nice melodies and swirling music that she sang to.
Lindholm’s vocals remind me so much of Harriet Wheeler, singer for The Sundays. She has that similar higher-range voice that makes every song into a palpable, immense affair. I didn’t even think to compare the musicians who play here, but she is backed, surprisingly, by the three original members of As Friends Rust and a guitarist for Shai Halud (although he joined after the recording of this album). With those members, you might expect something hard and frenzied, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The songs actually provide a nice mixture of the lofty emo qualities of Jejune, the lighter indie fare of Jimmy Eat World, and the pure pop sensibilities of a band like Moonpools & Caterpillars.
But you don’t care about the musicians, you care about the music. From the swirling, soaring atmosphere of “From Miles Away” to the more poppy and infinitely pleasurable “Atmosphere,” these songs are fantastic. The rhythm takes center stage, really providing the tempo as a backbone to the vocals, the guitar adding nice melodies to keep things moving. Some of the songs are more true to the Sundays comparison, like the moody and textured “When Songbirds Sing” and the quieter “Until Next Time,” but they still have a more rocking quality to them, with much more emphasis on the rhythm. And on others, like the lovely “Tomorrow,” the band definitely rocks out. And it contrasts nicely with one of the prettiest, most atmospheric track on the album, “Sleep Well” and the acoustic “Steps in Sand.”
I didn’t realize how much I missed truly spectacular female vocalists until this band came along. They have that textured, 90’s alternative sound to them but definitely with a more modern, lighter indie flare. The music itself is catchy, soaring indie rock, but you might not notice if you get lost in Lindholm’s vocals. Don’t be surprised.