horse feathers thistled spring
  • MONDAY, APRIL 26, 2010

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The first thing that sets Horse Feathers apart from other groups in the land of folk revival is their instrumentation. These guys are almost exclusively a string outfit, the rhythm section consisting of a pretty much few taps of a tambourine. Since their debut Words Are Dead , the band's acoustic-based sound has become even more stripped down, backing away from some earlier reverb play and into a very barebones production slant. With this genre of music, the lack of need for special effects just furthers their hightlighted musicianship, and besides, you can never go wrong with turning up that gorgeous banjo picking. It's like Appalachian Americana folk; only the Appalachian strains have been softened with more of a classical sheen.

Thistled Spring, like their previous albums, is more of a melodic emotive work, rarely leaning on its lyrical content for response. The vocals work as almost just another instrument, another layer to the harmonies, rather than an explanation of the melody. Without understanding a word frontman Justin Ringle is singing, the album leaves an impression of spring, somewhere out where there are wide-open spaces. "Starving Robins" channels an early morning yawn, the frost is melting, the feeling that something is changing for the better. The most upbeat effort "Belly of June" rolls in with cheerful strums and picks, like a warm June night. Album opener "Thistled Spring" underlined with some delicate tinkling keys, kicks off the record with a lingering feeling of melancholy and a simultaneous nod to the future.

Thistled Spring is the third studio album for Horse Feathers, the second with their label Kill Rockstars, home to some very like minded north-western based artists. Horse Feathers are definitely one of those bands that have the entire aesthetics package all tied up with a nice little bow. From their saturated press photos in the green wilderness, to the album art of a sapling covered in budding blooms, to a body of work composed entirely of understated folk informed melodies, the quartet has its identity completely figured out. And these days, that kind of cohesiveness is worth its weight in gold.-amelia trask

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MP3: "Starving Robins" (Thistled Spring)
Guest Apartment:Horse Feathers
Horse Feathers on Myspace

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