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Are We Not Horses

Rock Plaza Central Audio CD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: 12.02 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Audio CD (16 July 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Yep Roc
  • ASIN: B000N3SSMG
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 39,210 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. I Am An Excellent Steel Horse
2. How Shall I To Heaven Aspire?
3. My Children, Be Joyful
4. Anthem For The Already Defeated
5. Fifteen Hands
6. Are We Not Horses?
7. When We Go, How We Go (Part I)
8. Our Pasts, Like Lighthouses
9. 08/14/03
10. Our Hearts Will Not Rust
11. When We Go, How We Go (Part II)
12. We've Got A Lot To Be Glad For

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 8/10. Are you an excellent steel horse? 8 Aug 2007
Format:Audio CD
Despite the recurrance of robot horses as a thematic conceit running through this album it would be easy to overplay its significance. Putting aside some of the more obtuse lyrics, what we are left with is an album of extraordinary originality and atmosphere. There is a little of the Lips' cosmic wonder (and something of Wayne Coyne in novelist Chris Easton's deranged wail), some of the Polyphonic Spree's barbed evangelism, and a little of Calexico's rust and dust choked imagery. Like Modest Mouse, Rock Plaza Central also look to Tom Waits as a reference point, but with less of Isaac Brock's affectation. But it is more than a sum of any recognisable influences, an album with its own tangible mini-world, the forsaken border country depicted in the novels of Cormac McCarthy, all Mexican funeral marches and mescal-addled campfire storytelling. For all the contrivance and histrionics though, it is an album of intimate folk and beautiful musicianship - replete with horns, violin, piano and jazzy percussion that scuttles like a scorpian. The recording is quite raw and live-sounding, which gives the instrumentation or more spontaneous, less-glossy feel than the widescreen mariachi of Calexico.

Highlights include the opener 'I Am an Excellent Steel Horse' and 'My Children, Be Joyful', which open with a delicate refrain - Chris Easton's reedy vocal and some plucked guitar or banjo - before swelling into richly orchestrated pieces. The empowering lyrics seem primed for massed, joyous, bring-your-own-instrument singalongs; it must be fun to see this band live. 'Anthem For The Already Defeated' is Tom Waits territory, all junk yards, Whiskey saloons and gypsy fiddles; while 'Fifteen Hands' is a spine-tingling mood piece brimming with nocturnal desert paranoia.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Album Released in the UK in 2007? 24 July 2007
Format:Audio CD
Well, is it? For one of the hottest groups in North America, a band who stunned all who saw them at the glorious SXSW festival in Austin, Texas , in March, here is the grand opus. Rock Plaza Central with a name to die for, launch a concept album somehow based on a story about robot horses. Implausible as it sounds their beatiful loose Americana played over Chris Eaton's poetic lyrics and aching vocals may well be the album of the year already. Standout tracks abound but make sure you hear "I Am An Excellent Steel Horse", "Be Joyful, My Children" and the closing track, "We've Got A Lot To Be Glad For". A great sound from Toronto, again.
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If horses could sing, this is what they would sound like. 23 Dec 2007
By Victory - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
When I first heard about the concept for this album my though was, "If the songs at all live up to the concept, I'm going to be really impressed."
Well, they did, and I was.

See, this album takes three of my favorite things (robot horses, existential crises, and albums with a coherent narrative arc), and then blends them together in an epic, poignant, furious masterpiece. Singer Chris Eaton's supremely unique voice adds a strength and depth to an album that could otherwise be dismissible, and the simple but brilliant lyrics are touching and honest, evoking empathy and passion for our equine protagonists. We want to whinny and stamp our hooves at their triumph and despair.

The first tracks set the scene for the unfolding drama. I Am An Excellent Steel Horse is an optimistic, breezy opener, followed by the smoldering passion of How Shall I To Heaven Aspire.
The following tracks are in turn raucous, buoyant, bitter and complex. The album's midpoint, Are We Not Horses, is a despairing and brassy look at our protagonist's motivations while displaying some of Rock Plaza Central's most poignant lyrics ("Am I just a lightning rod or am I breathing?"), culminating in a furious galloping scream: "If we're not horses, what are we then?"
The sweet, homely guitar parts and gentle background chorus of When We Go, How We Go (Part I) and Our Pasts, Like Lighthouses are a greatly appreciated chance for us to catch our breath, segueing into the energetic sweetness of 08/14/03 and stalwart optimism of Our Hearts Will Not Rust before the driving climax of When We Go, How We Go (Part II).
While the forward momentum for each song occasionally falters (most notably for me, the end of How Shall I To Heaven Aspire), every single song on this album is driving forward to the sweeping, soothing finale of We've Got A Lot To Be Glad For, a sort of balm for the emotional scars inflicted by the previous tracks.

This album was made to be listened to a a whole, cohesive story, from first breath to last fading note. Stick this in your player, turn the volume up and the lights off, and breathe in deep as our horses fight to heaven and back. You will come out changed.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Album of the Year for 2007...and 2006 12 Aug 2007
By Joseph Patrick Quinn - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I don't usually write reviews on Amazon, but felt the need to combat the 3-stars by one reviewer. This is quite simply a great album. If you are an Elephant 6, Neutral Milk Hotel, Arcade Fire and basically an indie rock fan then you will love this album. Where you can go wrong, and I think the last reviewer went wrong, is comparing "Are We Not Horses," and Rock Plaza Central to legendary bands like Neutral Milk Hotel.
About the album: Chris Eaton sings more passionately about robotic steel horses than most musicians sing about their own human experiences. The lyricism and continuous story line keep you interested throughout the album, but at the same time it is not exactly a concept album. From the very first line, "I am an excellent steel horse..." in Chris Eaton's great rapsody voice, you automatically say to yourself, I want to hear where this is going. Then when the horns and violins come in, mixed with the acoustic guitar, it has an a sublime effect, where you can just lose yourself and get away from this world for 40 minutes. "My Children Be Joyful" is probably their most epic song as a band and you will not get enough of Chris Eaton's laaaa deee daaaa's. The chilling vibe of "15 hands" and "Are We Not Horses?" leads to one of the best and simplest songs on the album "When We Go, How We go?" Great lyrics, great tune, makes you want to be alive. This is a great album...released in Canada in 2006 then under Yep Rock in the States in 2007...this is the indie rock album of the year so far.
5.0 out of 5 stars unique album 22 Jun 2013
By Kevin Dutton - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
great voicing, melodies and harmonies. The album almost transports you to a simpler time, it really takes you on a journey
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes! 2 Dec 2007
By Katie - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I love Are We Not Horses in all ways - except, at times, the vocals. In the end, though, the frank, unsubtle vocals contribute to the simple joy of this album.
1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars well.... 24 Jun 2007
By a concerned citizen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
pros: this band has a unique sound and vision. as a total "package" (i.e. style, aesthetic, presentation, etc) they have something good and pure.

cons: they can't write tunes. the songs are there lyrically, and musically chris eaton has alot to work with, but many of these songs get by purely on the goodness of the instruments (rich acoustic guitar, lovely horns, probably other things i haven't noticed) because there no real melodies to speak of. comparisons to neutral milk hotel are thus a bit off -- both bands have horns, sure, but NMH is a supremely melodic band, and also a supremely propulsive one -- their songs, whether slow or fast, build forward momentum and release it to incredibly satisfying effect. rock plaza central's songs have no forward momentum. after listening to the album 5-6 times, i still have no idea if there are even drums on it.

unfortunately, the lack of variety in terms of tempo, energy, etc, makes this album seem like a big sticky black lump of songs, without any means to separate of differentiate them.

Are We Not Horses got a lot of (overdone) critical praise when it came out, but that fell off rather fast. like most any band that gets a rave review in the taste-making Pitchfork, the high score is basically a fluke, unrelated to the quality of the album and dependng instead on a myriad of more nebulous factors.

in this case, what we have is a too high score for an album that simply can't deliver its promised highs.
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