B-Sides: Goat and the Feather
Very occasionally, I get press from a band that I like even more than what I would have written about them. Oakland duo Goat and the Feather are one such band. Here's what they have to say about themselves:
The story goes like this. Shane Fairchild had been building soundscapes since this side of forever. Malcolm Rollick had been on tour by herself and was kinda tired of it. They got together to start a two-step band.
Something else happened when they started writing. Shane stopped nesting with her sounds, bought a bigger hat, and stepped on stage. Malcolm cocooned into Essy Redbird and bought a beat-up tenor guitar.
When Shane and Essy write, they imagine themselves into the Dirty Thirties and dress up like country stars. Shane rests sweet and easy into her mandolin. Essy mends her dresses and digs for words in the seams. The result is a gritty-sweet take on indie country that grows hidden and tough like wild strawberries.
Frankly, I was pretty well sold when I read those paragraphs and watched the band's first YouTube video, a live performance of their song "Dustbowl," before I had even sat down with the music. I won't even comment on Essy's skirt and Shane's hat, and how those affected my professional critical opinion. The point is, I'm Goat and the Feather's target audience. Now that they're releasing more music in preparation for their EP's appearance later this year, the music is getting the chance to live up to that press release.
The advent of Garage Band as a major media outlet for musicians and songwriters has provided a great many opportunities for the reinvention of the earnest acoustic wheel in the last five years or so. Shane and Essy are not reinventing that wheel. They are not inventing twang, they are not inventing milky-smoky vocals, they are not inventing dusty-country-roads guitar accompaniment. But they are making all of those older invetions look (and sound) real good-like.
As up-and-comers recording their first album right this second, Goat and the Feather don't have all that much media to mine yet, but what they've put out is haunting and inviting all at once, unlikely as that seems. My particular favorite is "Needle and Thread," a horn-led bucolic dirge that shimmers out of Essy's throat the way that air shimmers off of hot concrete. Discover it for yourself on their homepage. While we wait to hear what this band, whose past is full of reinvention and whose music improves upon what already exists, comes up with next, check out a live show on their short Pacific Northwest tour next month, and get a taste of what an "indie country wild strawberry" sounds like onstage, below.
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