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neumu
Wednesday, July 30, 2014 
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+ Donato Wharton - Body Isolations
+ Svalastog - Woodwork
+ Tim Hecker - Harmony In Ultraviolet
+ Rosy Parlane - Jessamine
+ Jarvis Cocker - The Jarvis Cocker Record
+ Múm - Peel Session
+ Deloris - Ten Lives
+ Minimum Chips - Lady Grey
+ Badly Drawn Boy - Born In The U.K.
+ The Hold Steady - Boys And Girls Together
+ The Blood Brothers - Young Machetes
+ The Places - Songs For Creeps
+ Camille - Le Fil
+ Wolf Eyes - Human Animal
+ Christina Carter - Electrice
+ The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
+ Junior Boys - So This Is Goodbye
+ Various Artists - Musics In The Margin
+ Rafael Toral - Space
+ Bob Dylan - Modern Times
+ Excepter - Alternation
+ Chris Thile - How To Grow A Woman From The Ground
+ Brad Mehldau - Live in Japan
+ M Ward - Post-War
+ Various Artists - Touch 25
+ The Mountain Goats - Get Lonely
+ The White Birch - Come Up For Air
+ Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country
+ Coachwhips - Double Death
+ Various Artists - Tibetan And Bhutanese Instrumental And Folk Music, Volume 2
+ Giuseppe Ielasi - Giuseppe Ielasi
+ Cex - Actual Fucking
+ Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche
+ Leafcutter John - The Forest And The Sea
+ Carla Bozulich - Evangelista
+ Barbara Morgenstern - The Grass Is Always Greener
+ Robin Guthrie - Continental
+ Peaches - Impeach My Bush
+ Oakley Hall - Second Guessing
+ Klee - Honeysuckle
+ The Court & Spark - Hearts
+ TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain
+ Awesome Color - Awesome Color
+ Jenny Wilson - Love And Youth
+ Asobi Seksu - Citrus
+ Marsen Jules - Les Fleurs
+ The Moore Brothers - Murdered By The Moore Brothers
+ Regina Spektor - Begin To Hope
+ The 1900s - Plume Delivery EP
+ Alejandro Escovedo - The Boxing Mirror
+ Function - The Secret Miracle Fountain
+ Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped
+ Loscil - Plume
+ Boris - Pink
+ Deadboy And The Elephantmen - We Are Night Sky
+ Glissandro 70 - Glissandro 70
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #2)
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #1)
+ The Flaming Lips - At War With The Mystics
+ The Glass Family - Sleep Inside This Wheel
+ Various Artists - Songs For Sixty Five Roses
+ The Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea
+ Motorpsycho - Black Hole/Blank Canvas
+ The Red Krayola - Introduction
+ Metal Hearts - Socialize
+ American Princes - Less And Less
+ Sondre Lerche And The Faces Down Quartet - Duper Sessions
+ Supersilent - 7
+ Band Of Horses - Everything All The Time
+ Dudley Perkins - Expressions
+ Growing - Color Wheel
+ Red Carpet - The Noise Of Red Carpet
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+ Espers - II
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Feathers
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Feathers
Gnomonsong
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Feathers' music is not so much songs as gentle, enveloping clouds, jangling with strummed string instruments and punctuated by bongo slaps, sung in many different voices and following a wandering, flower-strewn path through rural utopias. This eight-person collective hails from Western Massachusetts and Southern Vermont, perhaps the last place on earth that looks like the pastoral landscapes dreamed by Tyrannosaurus Rex and Vashti Bunyan. This is a place where the grass turns green in a single week late in April, followed by the eruption of thousands of dandelions, an event that is as simultaneously ordinary and transcendent as Feathers' breathy melodies. So it is perhaps fitting that the first whistling, jigging, Eastern-droning tune on the self-titled album is called "Old Black Hat With a Dandelion Flower," its serpentine harmonies and tangled rhythms celebrating the spiritual resonance of everyday objects.

You can't really talk about Feathers without evoking the hippie ideal. Live, they take the stage like some strange tribe, elfish women in loose skirts, long-haired men, and instruments — dulcimers, a bright-green mandolin, sitars, various percussion and guitars — scattered across the floor. The sense of sharing, the lack of hierarchy, come through at every song change, as players move from front to back, from guitar to drums, from xylophone to toy piano. Every song brings a new configuration, a new singer, a new sound. It might be Kurt breathing impossibly high melodies, then Meara caressing wordless "aahs" with infinite gentleness, Kyle warbling Ed Askew-like, or Ruth high and pure and soft. On the self-titled record, these differences merge into a cohesive, breeze-light sound, as gently beautiful and dreamy as anything you'll hear.

The reference points are obvious — early Tyrannosaurus Rex, Incredible String Band, Donovan, Vashti, and more contemporary friends and patrons Devendra Banhart and Andy Cabic of Vetiver. Like all these bands, Feathers take traditional folk forms and extend them into Eastern drones, Latin lilts and free-improv dissonances. And as with these bands, the result feels as unconstrained as breathing. There's an indefinable freshness and purity here, both in the minimal musings of "Past the Moon" and the denser, jazz-infused mystery of "Van Rat." "Ulna," with its narcotic blend of wordless sighs and slow waltz-time strums, is petal-soft and lovely, feeling more like a natural occurrence than a song that people wrote and practiced.

The disc closes with "Come Around," a wonderful, folk-centered song that is more structured and less atmospheric than earlier cuts. Its invites us all to "come around, come around, come around," to join a mythical tribe and partake in a circle of warmth and natural collaboration. It's a beautiful illusion, fragile and delicate and otherworldly, as real to Feathers as it is imaginary to most of us — and that's perhaps why this debut album is so intoxicating.


by Jennifer Kelly




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