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SXSW ’09 Pick: An Horse


It reads like an indie rock fairy tale: undiscovered band hands demo tape to successful group, who actually listen to the songs and invite newbies to join their tour. Soon after, stars help band score record deal, and even offer advice in the studio. Sounds unlikely, but that’s how it happened for An Horse, the Brisbane, Australia, duo of Kate Cooper (vocals/guitar) and Damon Cox (drums/vocals), when they passed their demo to Sara Quin, of Tegan & Sara, at a December 2007 gig in Brisbane.

Rearrange Beds, An Horse’s debut, hits record stores next week — it’s already for sale on iTunes — as the duo pulls into Austin, Texas, for the annual South by Southwest music conference (including a visit to the SPIN/MySpace Music Loft).

Last year, while Cooper and Cox were recording Beds, Sara Quin gave them feedback on demos they’d email her from the studio. “Sara would say, ‘This song is dragging. You guys need to speed it up, it doesn’t feel right,'” Cooper recalls. “Damon and I would be like, ‘Really?? Holy holy, I thought we were playing it too fast.’ Then we would go back and listen to old shows and realize she was spot on.”

“Company” — available to stream below — is an album highlight. Cooper’s confessional lyrics describe a woman excited by a potential new lover, but wary of being hurt like she has been in the past. As the narrator’s internal tension builds, Cox’s drumming intensifies and Cooper adds fuzzier, louder effects on her guitar until the top blows off, spilling over into a straight-ahead, Throwing Muses-esque romp, culminating with Cooper’s earnest admission, “This is me trying to be brave.”

Be brave yourself and check out the track, then tell us what you think in the comments section.

LISTEN: An Horse, “Company”