A recent New York Times article exposing the “freak-folk” scene cited Vermont’s Feathers as one of the main “freaks” in this “genre,” alongside Philadelphia’s Espers. Both are music “collectives” (Feathers comprises eight members) with eccentric hippie tendencies that, paradoxically, are not being noticed by actual faux-hippies. Where Espers draws from a heavy psych-meets-folk-meets-medieval sound, Feathers’ music is much heavier on the folk and less on the pscyh. Indeed, the members Feathers have made good friends, especially as Devendra Banhart‘s backing band on several cuts on last year’s Cripple Crow — a courtship that has yielded them opportunities that were most likely previously unavailable (for instance: Feathers was released by the label Banhart co-founded with the Vetiver guy, Andy Cabic).
Feathers’ debut initially has a very late-’60s West Coast feel to it — before people started “plugging in.” But after the second song, “To Each His Own,” the album takes a sharp turn, down a very slow, winding path of minimalism. It’s not in a way that, like Smog’s work, screams lo-fi; there’s just a sparseness to the songwriting on the remainder of the album. Upon first listen, there doesn’t seem to be much going on. But what’s best about Feathers is that it bares subtle complexities within the song’s arrangements. The more you listen, the more you’ll start to pick up on the elaborate instrumentation that exists in the background. This is just a first offering from a group that has the potential to be something fantastic (but, when it comes down to it, not all that that “freaky”).