Horse Feathers

Horse Feathers, Live Session #74

by oz on July 14, 2010

Over the years, I’ve grown to love this band called Horse Feathers.‚  This marked their second visit to Shirk Music + Sound for a HearYa Live session (find the first session here) and we greeted them on the heels of the release of Thistled Spring, the band’s third LP.

The band is led by songwriter/guitarist/vocalist Justin Ringle and supported by multi-instrumentalists Nathan Crocket, Catherine Odell and Sam Cooper. Each band member is an incredible talent in their own right, and nowhere is it more apparent than on “Starving Robins.” In a live setting, I’m always amazed by Nathan, Catherine and Sam and their ability to change instruments on the fly. It’s a four-piece band creating the sound of a seven-piece orchestra.

In fact, “orchestra” is a word you’ll hear frequently in describing Horse Feathers. They are a folk band, but their sound is much more classical and elegant than the traditional folk fare. In reviewing their album, I used adjectives typically found in descriptions of wine: Full bodied. Balanced. Smooth. Mellow. Vigorous. Fruity. Elegant. Distinctive. I’d recommend pouring yourself a glass and let their music wash over you.

Horse Feathers Band Intro

Exclusive: Horse Feathers – Thistled Spring (Video: Vimeo | YouTube)

Exclusive: Horse Feathers – As A Ghost

Exclusive: Horse Feathers – Cascades

Exclusive: Horse Feathers – Starving Robins (Video: Vimeo | YouTube)

Download the session as a zip file.

Video: Horse Feathers – Thistled Spring (live at Shirk Music + Sound)

Video: Horse Feathers – Starving Robins (Live at Shirk Music and Sound)

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horse feathers

If you want to fast dance, Horse Feathers isn’t your band. But much like The Tallest Man On Earth’s The Wild Hunt, Thistled Spring is the perfect companion for our changeover to the Spring season. Nowhere is it more evident than in the first strikes of piano keys and lyrics in the opening title track:

An old love of mine to wed the worst man she finds.
A blossom that’s bloomed, in a house that’s a tomb,
trapped in the rhododendron fumes.

Bit by the Spring,
Hurt by the thing,
Plagued by the memories
that it brings.

Please excuse the single tear running down my cheek. It’s the record high pollen count. I swear.

If you’ve been a fan of Horse Feathers over the past few years, Thistled Spring marks a subtle progression. The band is still led by multi-instrumentalist singer/songwriter, Justin Ringle, but it feels like Horse Feathers are maturing as a band and finding equal balance. Arrangements are more sophisticated on Thistled Spring and Nathan Crocket, Catherine Odell and Sam Cooper feel more like equal parts. The end result is an album with refined brilliance.

It’s actually a hard phenomenon to describe, but it hit me today on my drive to work. If you strip away the vocals and songwriting, the album would still stand up as an instrumental piece. And it would still be captivating. Horse Feathers throws the instrumental book at their music, complete with guitar, piano, glockenspiel, violin, viola, saw, banjo, mandolin, harmonium, accordion and trumpet. They push boundaries and extend the folk genre into something more orchestral and classical.

I could have reviewed Thistled Spring by using words typically reserved for wine: Full bodied. Balanced. Smooth. Mellow. Vigorous. Fruity. Elegant. Distinctive. It also has an incredibly beautiful finish in my favorite song, “Heaven’s No Place”:

With these hearts so loud their beating’s heard,
Like the wings of a trapped injured bird,
The more we love a lie it’s coming true
It’s burning our minds thinking it through.

Dear lonely man the reason you are stunned,
You’re born to a town that always eats it’s young
With a pious patience please wait for that wife
By winter’s end you may come back to life.

Website | MySpace | Facebook | Kill Rock Stars

Horse Feathers – Belly of June

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Horse Feathers will release their third album Thistled Spring on April 20th via Kill Rock Stars. They are a HearYa fav and we were lucky to hear plenty of new material from them at SxSW this year.

Thistled Spring will be a stunning follow up to 2008’s House With No Home. “Belly of June” is below for downloading.

Horse Feathers – Belly Of June

And if you missed our live session with Horse Feathers, click here. This is a taste of what you’ll find:

Exclusive: Horse Feathers – Curs In The Weeds

If you haven’t caught a live set yet, do yourself a favor.

04/09 – Berkeley, CA @ UC Berkeley – Sproul Plaza – 12pm
04/11 – Eugene, OR @ Sam Bond’s Garage
04/13 – Portland, OR @ Doug Fir
04/15 – Seattle, WA @ Tractor Tavern
04/16 – Vancouver, BC, Canada @ The Media Club
04/17 – Spokane, WA @ The Empyrean
04/20 – Minneapolis, MN @ The Cedar Cultural Center
04/21 – Madison, WI @ High Noon Saloon
04/22 – Chicago, IL @ Schubas
04/23 – South Bend, IN @ Subkirke
04/24 – St Louis, MO @ Billiken Club
04/26 – Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom & Tavern
04/27 – Buffalo, NY @ The Ninth Ward (Babeville)
04/28 – Toronto, ON, Canada @ Drake Hotel
04/29 – Montreal, QC, Canada @ Divan Orange
04/30 – Boston, MA @ The Red Room @ Cafe 939
05/01 – Northampton, MA @ Iron Horse
05/03 – Brooklyn, NY @ Union Hall
05/04 – New York, NY @ Mercury Lounge
05/05 – Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie
05/06 – Washington, DC @ Black Cat
05/07 – Charlottesville, VA @ The Southern
05/10 – Louisville, KY @ Skull Alley
05/11 – Bloomington, IN @ The Bishop
05/12 – Iowa City, IA @ The Mill
05/14 – Denver, CO @ Hi-Dive
05/15 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court
05/17 – Tucson, AZ @ Solar Culture
05/18 – San Diego, CA @ Casbah
05/19 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Fold In Bottleg Theater
05/20 – Visalia, CA @ The Cellar Door
05/21 – Santa Cruz, CA @ The Crepe Place
05/22 – Davis, CA @ Sophia’s Thai Kitchen
05/23 – San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill

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HearYa Live Session 49: Horse Feathers

by Shirk on June 21, 2009

horse feathers live session

I first heard of Horse Feathers when they opened for Blitzen Trapper at Schubas last fall.‚  The music was stunning and the crowd shut up and listened quietly to the entire set.‚  Fast forward a few months to a sunny Friday morning at SXSW, and I’m sitting with the HearYa crew in gravel at Homeslice Pizza watching Horse Feathers kick off our day.‚  Again, the crowd quickly shut up and listened. Fast forward a few more months and I found Horse Feathers at Schubas for the first of two sold out shows with Joe Pug.‚  Once again, the show was exceptional and the crowd took notice.‚  After a few too many beers and a couple of shots, I decided to head home because Horse Feathers was coming into my studio at 11am the following morning.

I showed up to the studio with a headache, reminding myself I am no longer in my 20’s.‚  Justin, Nathan, Catherine, and Sam rolled ina few minutes later, coffee in hand an ready to go.‚  We positioned the mics and cameras and got rolling.‚  Their music is awesome and seeing them pull it off in an intimate setting like this was something to behold.‚  Justin’s voice is smooth as silk and the band delivers an incredible dynamic behind him.‚  Every time I looked up from the control room, somebody was picking up a new instrument to add to a part, mid-song.‚  Nathan’s performance on the saw during “Heathen’s Kiss” gives such a dark and haunting texture, while Sam throws the kitchen sink at the music from banjo, mandolin and violin to percussion and glockenspiel.

I had my hands full for this session, covering both audio and camera-switcher duties, so it took me a song to get things under control. I missed a few things in the process.‚  You’ll notice Justin’s floor tambourine is a bit cutting and loud, especially on “Working Poor.” Like hi-hats in a drum kit, a little goes a long way and this tambourine went ALL the way.‚  These are live sessions though and you can’t control all the variables. Sometimes you just gotta deal with it.‚  I was tempted to say something after the first take, but instead I thought twice and did what everyone should do when seeing Horse Feathers. I just shut up and listened.

Exclusive: Horse Feathers – Working Poor

Exclusive: Horse Feathers – Heathen’s Kiss

Exclusive: Horse Feathers – Curs In The Weeds

Exclusive: Horse Feathers – Rude To Rile

Download the Horse Feathers Session as a zip.

Video: Horse Feathers – Heathen’s Kiss

See the rest of the videos from our session with Horse Feathers on our the HearYa YouTube Channel.

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Horse Feathers – Curs In The Weeds, Live at SXSW 2009

March 23, 2009

Horse Feathers was another early afternoon delight at Home Slice Pizza. I was trying to get comfortable sitting in a pile of gravel, so things started off real shaky with the camera. It’s amazing to watch the musicians in this band swap out stringed instruments, often times in the middle of a song. Tweet

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Top 50 Albums of 2008 [Picks 31-40]

December 16, 2008

You may as well just make a playlist out of these picks‚  from our top 50 albums of 2008. Not only are these outstanding albums, but these singles are some of my favorites of the year. Most notable are the tracks posted for The John Henrys, The Heavy, Elliott BROOD, Horse Feathers, and The War […]

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Horse Feathers – House With No Home

October 14, 2008

Sounding like the spawn of Iron & Wine and Great Lake Swimmers, there was little chance I would not become enamored with the three-piece outfit out of Portland that calls themselves Horse Feathers. I just killed two Chicago style hot dogs and they’re sitting in my belly like a cannonball, so I am now going […]

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