Horse Feathers, the Oregon-based duo of singer-guitarist Justin Ringle
and string-men Peter Broderick (who played all sorts of stringed instruments)
coined a form of acoustic folk music with little or no percussion and no
Words Are Dead (2006)
that sounded like a two-men string band, except that the music was drenched in
reverb and the tunes were not inspired by Appalacchia but by urban spleen.
Slightly more sophisticated arrangements shifted the tone towards
neoclassical folk music on
House With No Home (2008), containing the catchy
Curs in the Weeds; but the mood remained depressed beyond redemption.
Peter Broderick boasted a prolific solo career of bedroom-pop:
4 Track Songs (Type, 2006),
the orchestral Float (Type, 2008),
the acoustic Home (Hush, 2008),
Music For A Sleeping Sculpture Of Peter Broderick (Slaapwel, 2009),
Two Tracks (Bella Union, 2009),
the dance piece Music for Falling From Trees (Erased Tapes, 2009),
Blank Grey Canvas Sky (Fang Bomb, 2009), a split with Machinefabriek,
These Walls of Mine (Erased Tapes, 2012).
If the previous two albums were gloomy as only country music can be, the
Horse Feathers made Thistled Spring (2010) their "happy" album,
thanks to (relatively) lively folk dances like
Belly of June and Vernonia Blues.
Another way to balance Ringle's funereal pessimism is to add lots of
instrumental flourishes to the songs, and Cynic's New Year (2012)
tried that strategy by including several players (notably
cellist Catherine Odell and violinist Nathan Crockett)
as if the Horse Feathers were moving towards
Lambchop's chamber folk music.
The problem is that the songs just don't exist as such: they are tales,
laments, mumbles, thoughts, but not really songs; just like there's a difference
between a painting and a photograph.
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