Horse Feathers: Enigmatic And Artfully Slurred

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Tuesday's Pick

  • Song: "Curs in the Weeds"
  • Artist: Horse Feathers
  • CD: House With No Home
  • Genre: Folk-Pop
Horse Feathers 300

Horse Feathers' "Curs in the Weeds" soothes even as it unsettles. courtesy of Horse Feathers hide caption

toggle caption courtesy of Horse Feathers

Horse Feathers' songs may have words — enigmatic, artfully slurred words — but in many ways, the band might as well play instrumentals. Its two excellent albums, 2006's Words Are Dead and the forthcoming House With No Home, offer up rustic, vaguely doomstruck atmosphere more than they convey discrete hooks and distinct messages. But it's always beautiful atmosphere, and the group incorporates enough evocative turns of phrase to keep its music from turning into mere window dressing.

House With No Home opens with "Curs in the Weeds," the meaning of which often seems as elusive as its string parts are haunting. A closer listen — or, more to the point, a glance at the lyric sheet — reveals a grim cautionary tale about an overlooked middle child in a household "where the son is the darkest seed." As if the overarching sense of alienation weren't already looming in the minor-key arrangement, singer Justin Ringle notes, "It's like marrow without bone / to live in a house with no home." It's grim stuff, to be sure, but those strings are gorgeous enough to sweep the song's entire generation of tragedy under the rug.

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