Click to hear: “Cinders”
Horse Thief is Chad Chamberlain, a kid from the Adirondacks who moved to Maine as a teen and recently left our fair city for San Francisco. According to the back of this album, it was recorded in his empty apartment here the night before he left.
Of the 11 lo-fi songs on Bloodline, about half are worth hearing twice. These tend to be the ones on which Chamberlain has added a little something to his poorly recorded guitar and winsome vocals.
Like the opener, “Cinders.” In the hands of a full band, this would be a great power-pop song. As is, it’s a catchy nugget of art-damaged pop. “Animal Farm,” with its tinkling bells (triangle?) and spooky theremin tones, is a charmer too, as is “Baracuda’s Breath,” with its dreamy melody and reference to riding a bike the wrong way down State Street at night.
“It Has a Name” is an exception to that rule, a stripped-down song that works on the strength of its achingly gorgeous bridge. And “Shallow Days” is pretty enough to stand on its thin musical legs. But otherwise, it’s easy to forget the blurry indie-folk on Bloodline.
— Chris Busby
For more on Horse Thief, visit mckeenstreetmusic.com, where the entire album will be available for free download on Feb. 15.