Horse Feathers’ Impressionistic Lullabies

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Horse Feathers
Thistled Spring
Kill Rock Stars

The latest offering from Portland indie quartet Horse Feathers is a decent follow-up to their first two albums. And while they’ve got a few new members, frontman Justin Ringle is present in full force, his voice pushing and pulling the folky, string-filled sonnets into bloom.

It’s up for debate what makes Horse Feathers so ethereal. It could be the layered cello, violin, and piano that make it pretty. The “songs may have words—enigmatic, artfully slurred words—but in many ways, the band might as well play instrumentals,” an NPR reviewer said of a 2008 HF release. And while it’s true that the band offers more orchestral feelings than clearly defined narratives, I don’t think they could lose their vocals. Ringle’s voice is its own instrument—and half the music’s power is in its constant intrigue.

Thistled Spring is mostly about questions of birth and afterlife (“Belly of June,” “The Widower,” “Heaven’s No Place”) and predicaments of the natural world (“The Drought,” “Starving Robins,” “Cascades.”) “The Drought,” true to form, is pretty elusive, but it carries one of the most recognizable storylines on the album: Glory to the night / Shade’s been hard to find / From the plains up to the peaks / This heat’s dealing fate… / Makes the burning breeze from the ground up to the trees / I hear the birds complain about the lack of rain… / It’s bearing down on me / No clouds in the sky / I hear the pines crack and cry. The song begins with a foreboding crescendo into vibrato strings and breaks into a strong rhythm of sparse banjo and bass drum.

If you liked 2008’s Words Are Dead, or if you’re a fan of Iron & Wine and Bon Iver, you’ll probably dig Thistled Spring. The title, in fact, is an apt description of the album’s 10 tracks—impressionistic lullabies barbed with staccato strings, flourishing under Ringle’s hopeful intonations.
 

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

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Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

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Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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