An indie folk band from Portland, Oregon, Horse Feathers consists of singer/songwriter Justin Ringle (acoustic guitar, vocals, percussion) and a rotating cast of supporting musicians, often including multi-instrumentalist Peter Broderick, cellists Heather Woods Broderick and Catherine Odell, and violinist Nathan Crockett. Horse Feathers began in 2004 as a spare, mournful-sounding acoustic group, but with 2014's So It Is with Us, they matured into a breezier approach that suggested the influences of folk-rock and country-rock of the '70s.
Ringle grew up in Idaho and performed in several short-lived indie rock bands before moving to Portland, where he began playing shows under the name Horse Feathers. It was in Portland that he met Broderick, a member of the established local act Norfolk & Western. The two spent much of 2005 writing songs and honing their live performances at various Portland open-mike nights, effectively turning Horse Feathers into a duo.
Influenced by both the stark acoustic music of Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska and the post-classical work of German composer Max Richter, the duo entered the studio in February 2006 to record Words Are Dead, a chamber folk album featuring Ringle's high, reedy vocals and Broderick's Baroque filigree. Words Are Dead was released on Lucky Madison Records in September 2006. The band inked a deal with the Kill Rock Stars label the following year and released House with No Home in 2008. House with No Home became one of the highest-selling debuts in Kill Rock Stars' history, and Thistled Spring followed in 2010, marking the group's first release without Broderick.
Horse Feathers' fourth full-length outing, Cynic's New Year, arrived in 2012, and was their first album to sell enough copies to hit the Top 200 albums chart. With 2014's So It Is with Us, Ringle added a bassist and drummer to the lineup, and the music began to take a lighter and more accessible turn. The evolution of Horse Feathers continued on 2018's Appreciation, where their Southern-accented sound began incorporating elements of classic soul and R&B. ~ Andy Whitman & Mark Deming