Gift Horse
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Gift Horse

Athens, Georgia, United States | INDIE

Athens, Georgia, United States | INDIE
Band Rock Alternative


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



""Gift Horse has created a masterpiece with their self released debut album 'Mountain of Youth'.""

Let’s get it out of the way right now… Gift Horse has created a masterpiece with their self released debut album Mountain of Youth. There, I said it. It was only the fall of last year when the band hit the road in support of the Meat Puppets that I heard them for the first time, and I am proud to say I have been heavily addicted ever since. At the time, the band had a total of three songs that were available to stream on their Myspace player, but it didn’t take more than that to make their debut one of my utmost anticipated releases of 2010. The album dropped in March and despite my own nearly impossible expectations surrounding it, Mountain of Youth has proven to surpass every one of them. The quartet offer a stunning blend of noise soaked grunge, wall of sound shoegaze, and hazy psych rock drawing influence from a diverse range of 90s legends including Sonic Youth, Elliott Smith, Hum, My Bloody Valentine, and Nirvana. The band enlisted producer Hank Sullivant (The Whigs, MGMT, Kuroma) to help mold their influences into a unique sound spliced together with massive reverb and eerie distorted perfection. Hailing from the same Athens, GA scene that delivered The Whigs, Dead Confederate, and Twin Tigers, Gift Horse is quickly establishing themselves among the elite. Mountain of Youth is the type of album you’re going to want to listen to from start to finish, loaded with gorgeous atmospheres, wavering intensity, and conceptual lyrics about the inevitability of getting older and the loss of innocence that comes with it. I can only hope we get to experience the evolution of Gift Horse as they grow older for many many years to come.

Opening with the low thud of “Not The Only One” and the psychedelic swirls of “Both of Me,” the general mood of the record is made distinctly clear, infectiously dark and dreamy. Buzzing guitars and keys drift in wide open spaces as the rhythm propels the hypnotic trance forward. Lead vocalist Hunter Morris delivers his sedated soulful croon, soft and comforting; his gloriously raw delivery shining as the music completely fades before the soaring wail of layered guitars comes crashing back in. The juxtaposition of catchy melodies and memorable riffs with giant bleeding textures and expansive atmospherics is flawlessly pulled together creating pop accessibility lurking just below the barrage of brilliant noise. “Missionaries” is the band’s first single, a clear cut choice with its anthemic vocals, Vaughan Lamb’s deep grooving bass line, and the punchy guitar attack that would have sold a million copies in the early 90s. Ridiculously captivating, the melody explodes with bright sunbursts that swirl together in distorted fury. I won’t soon forget the first time I heard this track, and the building sonic assault only gets better with age. A strong emphasis is placed on vocals during the verses, as the easy going nature of Morris’ voice triumphantly resides somewhere between Elliott Smith and J. Mascis. “October House” pulls the tempo way down into menacing sludge territory as the vocals warble in desperation similar to a lamenting Kurt Cobain. The crash of the entire band steadily rises as they push forward an unstoppable wall of sound that remains fervently bleak even at its breaking point.

The thick fuzz on “Plastic People” is heavy enough to choke on, ringing over the entire mix as Hunter’s vocals float just above the roaring rhythm and scratchy guitars. Guitarist Mike Stokes attention to detail is amazing as he piles riff upon riff on top of each other, blending distorted tones together for dense and glowing textures. Gift Horse thrives on hypnotic structure, leaving you euphoric and somewhat dazed while buried in a cloud of smoke. “Eyes” continues to thicken the haze, creeping along with a slow dripping intensity that trickles with mesmerizing keys as Morris’ vocals hang suspended in air. Reminiscent of the slow-core bands from the 90s, the song mounts in tension over beautiful landscapes and soft spoken dynamics, the calm before the ever swelling storm. The hook begins their ascension with a soaring vocal performance, solid reverb, overlapping harmonies, a swarm of blurry guitars, and harsh booming drums. Gift Horse draw the tempo back significantly further on the slow burning “All The Rage,” a song that crawls with a delicate arpeggiated chord progression before the murky psychedelic groove finally kicks in after nearly two minutes. The band know how to slow their pace to a near standstill while strengthening your attention and locking your mind into the pulsating groove. As the noise begins to take hold, the band blast into the ferocious crescendo led by stunning guitar distortion and the repetitive slacker anthem, “C’mon c’mon c’mon, it’s all the rage”.

“James Castle” contains one of the albums most immediate riffs, a stoned wash of shoegaze inflicted grunge that circles around like a vulture honing in on its prey. The rhythm section pounds triumphantly over the surging crashes of guitar and keys with a groove The Black Angels would be jealous of. “Ninth Hour” provides a haunting intermission before the album’s slow-as- molasses finale, “And When I Die”. Morris’ vocals yearn with an honest trance, hovering ever so slowly in space, as the guitars, bass, and keys lull you into the dreamscape’s soothing vortex. As the band layer on gorgeous intensity, the trip becomes increasingly heavier while never reaching its boiling point, Gift Horse conclude the album deep within their dazzling wonderment. Record label or not, Mountain of Youth is one of the best albums released this year, a jaw dropping statement of intent from a band destined for greatness.

""Gift Horse generate a brooding, bulky, booming monster of a sound.""

Gift Horse generate a brooding, bulky, booming monster of a sound. Dense, sprawling mini-epics where pockets of calm are upended with 30-foot-tall waves of guitars, drums and atmospheric embellishments. The Athens band's self-released debut CD, Mountain of Youth, is a moody bastard that sorta comes across like Dead Confederate's better-groomed younger brothers on a bootleg absinthe bender. -

"Featured MP3 at 3PM"

Hailing from Athens, Ga., Gift Horse offers an overly distorted, sludge-filled sound that falls somewhere between Alice In Chains and Goblin Cock. Having recently self-released its debut LP, Mountain Of Youth, with MGMT’s Hank Sullivant acting as producer, these Southern gentlemen just finished an East Coast tour with Twin Tigers. For your listening pleasure, we give you two tracks from Mountain Of Youth: “Plastic People” and “Missionaries.” “Plastic People” is nothing short of grimy, with heavily distorted, droning guitars mashed with hollow, almost-half-hearted vocals from Hunter Morris. “Missionaries” dials back the distortion significantly and offers a slightly cleaner sound overall while still basking in the same grungy charm. -

""A hauntingly atmospheric record.""

It is no surprise that Athens band Gift Horse calls the Peach State their home. With twanging guitars and throatily soulful vocals, the quartet takes the oaky style that can only be bred in steamy southern heat and pairs it with the Seattle sound of grunge to make a brand of garage-y shoe-gaze all their own.
Previously debuting with a five-song demo, the band will be hitting the music world with the physical release of their first full-length record, Mountain of Youth this Tuesday, May 4th. Recording with producer Hank Sullivant (The Whigs, MGMT) and handing engineering duties over to singer-songwriter Nate Nelson, Mountain of Youth takes the bands initial EP a step further, upgrading to a more hi-fi sound and recreating previous tracks “And When I Die” and “Not the Only One.”

Growing from that initial art-rock release into a sound of grunge, while maintaining that melodic, minimalist pace, Mountain of Youth possesses an astute fluidity between its tracks. This is not merely a collection of songs, but a carefully planned, one band mix tape where each track is put in the order it is for a reason.

From the gentle build into grungy guitar of opening song, “Not the Only One” to the bigger sounding, dark edge of its follower “Both of Me”, Gift Horse quickly establishes itself as a band that isn’t meant to be treated as wallpaper. Using an eerie spacey-ness in their sound and a grind to their guitar, the band gives off an air of darkness akin to what Brand New has been playing with, but with an tinge of lightness that makes it feel less tortured and grating.

Methodic, groggy bass and gravely vocals are big contributors to Mountain of Youth, though generally the voice of front man Hunter Morris takes a backseat to the distorted instrumentals. At some junctures this proves to be an excellent choice, because the shadow cast by the band’s many sounds forces the listener’s ears to perk up in order to catch what’s going on underneath the noise. However at other points the stress of straining becomes cumbersome.

Nonetheless, Gift Horse has to be applauded for their approach in production. The gaps of silence in the snail’s pace build to “All the Rage” is just as attention getting as any abrasive assault to a listener’s hearing, if not more so. Once again, the sense of purposefulness in this track is what makes it work, marking Gift Horse as a band that is aware of their every move.

Moving slightly away from the tempered, minimalist, shoe-gaze in the album, are thickly layered track “Eyes” and “Plastic”, which deliver a Nada Surf-like vocal melody and undistorted guitar, giving off a more “indie rock” kind of sound. A simple set of ghostly “ah’s” make up the minute long track “Ninth Hour”, nicely leading into the afflicted sounding “When I Die” who’s aching seems to be as deep rooted as the throaty sound of Morris’ voice, his whisper on the verge of cracking as he croons over soft hi-hat and echo-y guitar.

Mountain of Youth is definitely one of those albums that requires its listener to sit down and take it all in within one sitting. Densely packed with distortion and reverb, listeners may be tempted to make comparisons to bands like Nirvana, but any allusion to mid-90’s grunge made by the band is better put in the category of The Smashing Pumpkins, if comparisons must be made. A hauntingly atmospheric record, Mountain of Youth is a debut that piqued our interest, and asserts Gift Horse as a band we will continue to keep our eye on.

Three of the four that make up the Athens based band were kind enough to correspond with us via email this past week. Keep reading to see what Hunter Morris, Mike Stokes, and Vaughn Lamb had to say about the new record, the first show they ever saw, and what the future holds for the band.

Reviewsic: Can you give us a quick recap of what the band has been up to as of late?

Gift Horse: We had a great SXSW, just had our local record release shows and we leave tomorrow for a two=week east coast tour. Mountain of Youth just went up for sale digitally and the physical release is on May 4th.

Reviewsic: If you could book a tour with any 3 bands, past or present, who would they be and why?

Gift Horse: Smashing Pumpkins just after Siamese Dream came out and My Bloody Valentine during the Loveless era, just because we love both of those bands and albums. Also probably with the Allman Brothers because Dicky Betts was crazy as hell and their old manager stabbed somebody for not paying them…he’s still in jail we think.

Reviewsic: What are your top three musical influences?

Gift Horse: We listen to and are influenced by so many different types of music, but mostly mid 90's grunge/shoegaze type stuff (see #2). Also, lots of Elliot Smith and Sonic Youth.

Reviewsic: Is there any instrument you don’t play, but wish you did?

Gift Horse: We’ve got a few: pedal steel, cello, probably trombone. (We would probably utilize all of these in the studio at some point).

Reviewsic: What are the last three albums or bands you listened to?

Gift Horse: Vic Chesnutt’s At the Cut, The Shins’ Oh Inverted World, and The Breeders Last Splash

Reviewsic: If you could work with one person in the music industry (musician, label, producer etc), who would it be and why?

Gift Horse: Jim O’Rourke would be a great producer/musician to work with.

Reviewsic: Who was the first band/musician you saw live?

Mike: Ben Folds Five, Self, Dishwalla, Edwin McCain and the Umajets in Augusta, GA 1995. I was 12 and I got to meet Ben Folds. He was really cool to me even though I was an annoying punk kid.

Hunter: My first concert was Seven Mary Three when I was in middle school. To this day it is still theworst concert I have ever attended. I hope they are not allowed to play music anymore.

Vaughan: My First concert was Phish 12/13/99 at Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh, NC. I went with my Older Brother, I was 15 he was 18 and we were diehard Phish Heads. They Opened with Wilson, Chalkdust Torture Lawn Boy. My little 15 year old mind was blown!…..and buzzed

Reviewsic: Who are three of your favorite local bands?

Gift Horse: Lots of great bands coming out, but definitely check out our upcoming tourmates Twin Tigers. Also, Dead Confederate is a really great, powerful band and Futurebirds is this awesome rocking alt-country band.

Reviewsic: What’s the back-story on how the band came to be what it is today?

Hunter: Mike and I started a band together years ago that started off kind of cruddy but got a lot better and started to get more and more grungy/drony as we wrote more and more songs. About two years ago, we decided to try something new that was more like what we were getting into. Vaughan joined up with us shortly after this and that was the beginning of Gift Horse.

Reviewsic: Tell us about Mountain of Youth – Is there any particular theme or creative direction behind it? What was the process of making the album like?

Gift Horse: Honestly, the direction of Mountain of Youth is not so loosely based on Catcher in the Rye. The lyrics and the story the album sort of tells are about the inevitability of getting older, the loss of innocence and how you come to view the world as you get older, and being as real of a person as you can be despite the world around you.

Reviewsic: How would you compare yourselves as musicians at the point of this release as opposed to when you first began playing together?

Gift Horse: We try to be constantly evolving, listening to as much music as possible, and working to get better. So, long story short, hopefully we’re a lot better musicians, but we definitely know ourselves better as musicians.

Reviewsic: What are some of your favorite cities and/or to play?

Gift Horse: No doubt that Austin, NYC, and Athens are our favorites.

Reviewsic: What are the best and worst band moments so far in your career?

Gift Horse: Best- Touring with The Meat Puppets was definitely a major highlight, the first time the van pulled into New York was really surreal, and making/releasing Mountain of Youth has been a true labor of love.

Worst- Don’t cry over spilled milk. Also, only Don Henley airs out his dirty laundry.

Reviewsic: What is the most memorable concert you’ve ever attended?

Hunter: The first time I saw My Morning Jacket they played through a massive thunderstorm at Bonnaroo. They were about to get electrocuted but they kept playing until they had to literally get pulled of stage.

Vaughan: Every Vic Chesnutt Show I ever had the privilege of seeing him perform

Reviewsic: If you were to play a show of strictly covers, what are few tracks we’d be likely to hear?

Gift Horse: We have done a set of all My Bloody Valentine covers a few times, so definitely a couple of those. Also, probably some Elliot Smith, Breeders, maybe a Don Williams song for the shit of it

Reviewsic: What are your plans for your music in the next year?

Gift Horse: We’re already hard at work on the songs for our next record.

"Top 5 Bands to Watch in 2010"

On May 4th, Athens, Georgia, indie band Gift Horse dropped their debut, Mountain of Youth, produced by Hank Sullivant (Kuroma, The Whigs, MGMT). The band sent us two tracks to share with everyone. If you like heavy shoegaze chords full of distortion and deep, moody percussions, you’re probably going to like this southern indie rock band. Gift Horse have opened for bands like Meat Puppets, Dead Confederate, Kuroma, among others. -

"Gift Horse Live Review"

Gift Horse sounds like something in the (Radio/Portis)head hybridization territory. Basically, it has the sprawling abstract noise rock thing nailed down pretty solidly, though it never really lets the songs get too far out to remain compelling...the star of its show is feedback...The entire set strafed through a cloak of echoing fog, and the visual aesthetic (lit from below–as mentioned in Jordan Stepp’s comments [10/28]) helped push the performance to another level...These fellas delievered one of my grander sonic adventures for the past couple of months, and I definitely recommend them to the curious. They could open for just about anyone in the public musical eye at present and hold their own, if not steal the show." - Tony Floyd, Flagpole - Flagpole

"Live Review"

"Filled with heavy, exploding drum beats and a magical, ethereal blending of guitar, bass, and keys, Gift Horse has the ability to draw you in, capture your mind, and compel your imagination. Their songs carry menacing undertones and floating vocals that at once pick you up and mellow you out. Each melody offers a climax, backed by raging cymbals, which give way to atmospheric organ tones preparing you for the next climax and back around again."
-The Silver Tongue - The Silver Tongue

"Gift Horse Feature"

"...[Gift Horse] relishes in the fact that it incorporates the stigma of our recent rock legends. It's a combination of detailed concentration, cheerful respect and constructive criticism that surrounds Gift Horse's music...the album incorporates organ, chimes and space-filling reverb that will be sure to take listeners back to the day of rock lore and re-establish the sound we all frantically, whether consciously or unconsciously, seek." - BLUR Magazine - Blur Magazine

"Athfest review"

Right away Gift Horse launched into an aural assault of sprawling psychedelic grunge and shoegazey indie rock. The four-piece recently completed their debut full-length album and played a few songs from it, including the incredible "Not the Only One." I seriously can listen to that song on repeat for days. I attended the show with some out of town friends and I wasn't surprised that Gift Horse's sound drew them in like flies to honey. The loud/soft dynamic of the songs and the ferocity of Brandon Scarboro's drumming made for a completely overwhelming set. - Flagpole Magazine


Debut LP "Mountain of Youth" produced by Hank Sullivant (Kuroma, ex-MGMT, ex-The Whigs), engineered and mixed by Nate Nelson, mastered by Joel Hatstet
(released in May 2010)



Formed in Athens, GA in 2008, Gift Horse is Hunter Morris (vocals/keyboards/guitar), Mike Stokes (guitar/vocals), Vaughan Lamb (bass), and new addition Brad Elliott (drums). In the past year, Gift Horse has toured extensively with The Meat Puppets, Dead Confederate, Kuroma, and Twin Tigers among others. The band recently released their debut album “Mountain of Youth” produced by Hank Sullivant (Kuroma, The Whigs, MGMT) and engineered and mixed by Nate Nelson (Nate Nelson and Cortright, Maria Taylor). The record has received glowing reviews from Reviewsic, Magnet, Stomp and Stammer, Aquarium Drunkard, and Performer Magazine to name a few. Gift Horse’s captivating and intense live shows have been turning all the right heads throughout the Southeast, where they’ve built a large and loyal following based on what keeps being referenced as a wholly unique and utterly fresh sound. Trips to perform at SXSW the last two years and constant touring up and down the East Coast have won the band many new fans.

"Mountain of Youth" has exposed a band that has crafted their own concoction of melody and atmosphere that on record, or live and in person, is completely captivating and never lacking in depth or delivery. The songs are about honesty and inevitability, but the sound certainly takes the listener as far from reality as one might care to venture. Gift Horse’s sound has drawn a wide array of comparisons from the psychedelic shoegaze of My Bloody Valentine, to the mid-90’s grunge of The Smashing Pumpkins and The Breeders, to the ambient drone-rock of bands like Low and The Black Angels. Above all else, Gift Horse operates with an understanding that a song is only as effective as the mood it conveys.

"Gift Horse takes the oaky style that can only be bred in steamy southern heat and pairs it with the Seattle sound of grunge to make a brand of garage-y shoe-gaze all their own....A hauntingly atmospheric record."

"Gift Horse generate a brooding, bulky, booming monster of a sound. Dense, sprawling mini-epics where pockets of calm are upended with 30-foot-tall waves of guitars, drums and atmospheric embellishments."