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Horse Feathers

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When Iron and Wine's Sam Beam abandoned the rustic, breathy minimalism of his early albums for new songs caked in head-spinning reverb, he left the door open for Horse Feathers to steal your indie-folk-loving heart. Horse Feathers is guided by Portland, Oregon-based songwriter Justin Ringle, who surrounds his patient meditations on gray skies and hard lives with compelling cinematic instrumentation, including violin, saw, cello, mandolin and banjo. Since last year, the group has been touring like mad on its mighty fine debut, House With No Home, playing with comrades such as Pacific Northwesterners Blitzen Trapper and über-mellow folkie Jose Gonzalez. Horse Feathers may play in bars but isn't a bar band. Ringle has one of those mellifluous voices that wouldn't do much of anything without a microphone, and the group's tasty use of silence isn't complemented by the general wash of slurry chatter. Be prepared to zip your yapper and put your heart on your sleeve.

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