With bands like Blind Pilot, Fleet Foxes, Typhoon, Black Prairie, The Head and the Heart, Hey Marseille and Brandi Carlisle redefining the Oregon and Washington music scenes, the Pacific Northwest has a seen a dramatic Americana renaissance in the last few years. Among the finest of these bands is Portland’s Horse Feathers, which released its fourth album earlier this month. While a few of the band’s members have changed since its last album, front man Justin Ringle brings a consistent melancholy sound and poetic lyrics to Cynic’s New Year (AmazonMP3 & Spotify).
In press materials, Ringle notes that he has recently been “enamored” with James Wright, the dark poet who suffered from massive depression and struggled through alcoholism, but wrote with optimism through great emotional suffering. Ringle’s lyrics follow suit. While there are dark and sad pictures painted by nearly every track on the album (and previous albums), there’s also knowledge of hope and a longing for change. This is especially true in “Bird on a Leash,” my favorite track on the album. The song’s title refers to a woman who’s making poor choices, saddening the writer as she’s “flying nowhere but dying to be.”
Both musically and lyrically, Cynic’s New Year is just as gorgeous as the band’s previous albums. This one features 11 musicians playing instruments including drums, French horn, piano, bells, upright bass and banjo.
Horse Feathers is currently on tour, stopping by NYC’s Bowery Ballroom on May 9th.