Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Further Look: Horse Feathers

My latest music acquisitions have consisted mainly of Ryan Adams 7"s, a few tracks here and there, or newly released vinyls yet to hit my doorstep. For this reason, I've spent quite a bit of time going through the buttload of music I picked up last year. Some of the latest additions to my library in 2008 were the two albums from Portland's Horse Feathers. I quickly adjusted to their mellow, almost classical sound and promptly added their 2008 album, House With No Home, to my best of the year list at #8. In retrospect, my only regret so far is that Horse Feathers weren't placed higher in the list.

Upon my re-examination of the band, I've come to realize that the depth at which they make music is a testament to the varied talents of the revolving cast of musicians, the only piece remaining constant being lead vocalist Justin Ringle (pictured). The primary songwriter and guitarist, Justin is the defacto brains behind the operation. For the recording sesions of both their debut, Words Are Dead, and House With No Home, Justin employed the help of brother/sister duo Heather and Peter Broderick while the band's live shows often consist of different musicians (Nathan Crockett, Catherine O'dell, Sam Cooper...). This varying lineup leads to a unique sound that comes across as both sparse and plentiful. The songs are often very music-driven - violin being a big part - allowing Justin's vocals to escape the spotlight. The soft, airy delivery in his words only add to this effect; these elements coming together to create a fresh, truly enjoyable sound (check out this interview with Justin in which he speaks on some of these vocal choices, whether deliberate or not).

The most recent output I've found from Horse Feathers was this remarkable video from

The additional players present here are Sam Cooper (banjo) and Nathan Crockett (fiddle). Justin can be credited with not only vocals and guitar, but also some very well-timed tambourine-under-foot. This video is further evidence for my theory that the best bands tend to be three-pieces.

Horse Feathers - Finch On Sunday
from Words Are Dead (2006)
Horse Feathers - Albina
from House With No Home (2008)

Buy Words Are Dead (Lucky Madison) -- [Vinyl/CD] [eMusic]
Buy House With No Home (Kill Rock Stars) -- [Vinyl/CD] [eMusic]
Horse Feathers on MySpace
More Horse Feathers on This Mornin'...
New Digs (11-11-2008)

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