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Saddle up

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Life has been a whirlwind the past few months for Oklahoma City-based band Horse Thief. Its highly anticipated debut album, Fear in Bliss, has already received critical praise from national media doting on the Bella Union label’s new darlings.

Horse Thief is headed back to its roots for a special album release show April 18 at the ACM@UCO Performance Lab downtown. Primed and ready for the acclaim and audience growth it has gained recently, the show is sure to be a memorable one, where patrons can join the collective and experience the magic of a band on the brink of new possibility.

Guests also may purchase a limited-edition blue vinyl version of Fear in Bliss and album release posters.

“Every time we play the album live, it takes me back to when we recorded,” guitarist and keyboardist Alex Coleman said.

The album was written in OKC but recorded with Thom Monahan (Devendra Banhart, Fruit Bats, Vetiver) in Los Angeles. After swapping demos and hashing out ideas long distance, Monahan saw Horse Thief play at last year’s Norman Music Festival to get an idea of the band’s live sound. Maintaining that live feeling is important to the band, and Monahan’s investigation paid off on the final product.

“It’s more intense. We take the mellowness and kind of amplify that,” Coleman said.

Singer Cameron Neal has said that the album is an example of his struggle with anxiety and depression.

“You put your art out there, and you never know what you’re going to get back,” he said.

Neal and bassist Cody Fowler ventured to the north from Denton, Texas to attend the Academy of Contemporary Music at the University of Central Oklahoma just two years after the program launched, eventually meeting the remainder of the Oklahoma-based band.

Neal is thankful for the flexibility and support of the program.

“It’s really great to get a college education and be able to do this,” he said.

Coleman started off as a music production major, but he was quickly influenced by the variety of the student body.

“I met a lot of people that introduced me to folk and hip-hop,” Coleman said. “There’s a lot of stylistic things that everyone brings to the pool.”

The band shares a label with other airy groups like Fleet Foxes, Department of Eagles and Beach House, but Horse Thief has the rock roots to create a deeply intense sound. Labeled as psychedelic folk rock, the band reaches beyond the bonds of the genre and provides flowing melodies that envelope the listener.

Horse Thief is unique in that it holds the listener in a mesmerizing overlay of depth and musicality that is too heady to contain on just an album. Its presence provides an experience that permeates all the senses and leaves you wanting more.

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