Portland’s Horse Feathers may share a name with a 1932 Marx Brothers ?lm,
but Words are Dead
, the duo’s winsome debut, has in?nitely less to do with college-football gags than the sanctity of banjo, Sunday singing, viola, hardwood pews, blood-stained snow, musical saw, human bodies and broken hearts. Musically, Horse Feathers land somewhere between Holopaw and Damien Rice, and their quiet mix of twang and crumple instantly bewitches—frontman Justin Ringle’s cracking vocals are gorgeously broken, lending unforeseen credence to the sad stories he whispers over Peter Broderick’s high, string-heavy hum. Words are Dead
is cacophonous in the best, most organic way—it sounds like it rolled down a Paci?c Northwest peak and splashed into your coffee cup, a warm, comforting companion for a long winter inside.