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Gregory Robson 10/19/12 05:32 AM

Last Bison, The - Inheritance EP
The Last Bison - Inheritance EP
Record Label: Universal Republic
Release Date: Oct. 20, 2012

The Last Bison are a chamber folk septet from Chesapeake, VA. The EP is the prelude to a full-length due out in 2013, and the follow-up to 2011's criminally overlooked Quill. The group, which is fronted by Ben Hardesty, features his sister Annah on bells, his father Dan on mandolin and banjo, lifelong friend Andrew Belfante on pump organ, Andrew's brother Jay on assorted percussion, Teresa Totheroh on violin and Amos Housworth on cello.

How is it?

"Switzerland," is sweet and inviting and buttressed by bells and acoustic guitar. Hardesty is a strong-lunged vocalist who knows when to dive in and when to pull back. There's a definite theatrical overtone that calls to mind Colin Meloy and Marcus Mumford but is very much its own entity. The song more or less glides along the strength of Hardesty's vocals until the 2:46 mark when a violin solo enters the fray and carries the song forward.

"Distance," follows much of the same progression as "Switzerland," but is more urgent and anxious. Ostensibly a song about a long-distance relationship, it is once again anchored by a riveting chorus, gorgeous violin lines and celestial bells. Equal parts entrancing, hypnotic and undeniably melodic, its as a gorgeous testament to a band that knows its way around a song.

"Dark Am I," opens as a ringing and jangly folk tune but dives into something more akin to an elegiac prayer. The highlight of the song is backing vocals from bells player Annah Hardesty, and a rousing mandolin lick. And while its not as stirring as the first two, it certainly isn't bland either.

The EP ends with "River Rhine," a hushed ballad that is arguably the best song on here and nothing short of stunning. Moving away from The Decemberists comparison, the song seems steeped more in Low Anthem country and its a sentiment the band should certainly revisit in future efforts. When artistry is this well-executed it is something truly entrancing and an absolute delight to behold. And therein lies the power and beauty of The Last Bison. Come to think of it, this might be the most impressive EP that has landed on this reviewer's desk all year.

Recommended If You Like The Decemberists, Mumford and Sons, Fleet Foxes, The Avett Brothers, The Middle East

Find Them Here http://www.bisonfolk.com

h8bit 10/19/12 07:49 AM

Wow, this is really great! Loving their sound, the varied tempos. And that violin is gold!

Thatguy101 10/19/12 09:13 AM

I absolutely adored Quill So I'm definitely picking this up.

justbradley 10/19/12 01:33 PM

I just found out about this band a few weeks ago, and I loved Quill. I'm so glad to see they got signed, and are releasing an EP soon, too.

likedyingy0ung 10/19/12 07:17 PM

I live a stone's throw from these guys, been out to see them at the Norva three times now. So phenomenal. Wish this had more than one new song on it, but still, stoked for the full length and to see a band I watched form from the roots upward make something of themselves.

tiny vessels 10/19/12 07:31 PM

Did they change their name? I had no luck finding anything of theirs on Spotify or iTunes under The Last Bison but I was able to find Quill under simply Bison.

Gregory Robson 10/20/12 06:37 AM


Originally Posted by tiny vessels (Post 114397082)
Did they change their name? I had no luck finding anything of theirs on Spotify or iTunes under The Last Bison but I was able to find Quill under simply Bison.

Yes, they did. They were formerly known as Bison. So that is their album.

indiesuperman 10/22/12 09:45 AM

So glad to see they folks getting attention here. Quill is such a terrific album, so beautiful. I'm looking forward to hearing this EP. Definitely a band on the rise, one to keep a real close eye on; they're going to do great things.