See our Best of Detroit 2020 winners.

Cynic's New Year - Horse Feathers (Kill Rock Stars) 

The group’s dark, tattered and immersive folk-rock deepens in nuance

There's value in a band that plugs away at its chosen niche without the constant drive for reinvention; blogosphere be damned, fine songs well sung show ambition aplenty and are a perfect measure of the creative restlessness that Justin Ringle shows with Horse Feathers. The only major change to the group's dark, tattered and immersive folk-rock has been a deepening of nuance in music of almost painterly beauty, devoid of precious or bland trappings. You need simply to hear "A Heart Arcane" and the wondrous "Fit Against the Country" to recognize the purity and seriousness of an uncompromised rootsiness that's felt rather than affected.

An unlikely comparison for Horse Feathers' evocative variations on a theme is New Zealand's jangle-pop stalwarts the Bats — remarkably consistent over decades, they continue to chip away and lovingly experiment with a sumptuous sound that deliberately ignores passing trends. Cynic's New Year is slightly overlong and at times exhibits a lyrical insularity, but Ringle is working hard at slowly unfurling the masterpiece lurking under the surface here, and you never lose faith that someday he'll find it.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

More by Nathan Phillips

Read the Digital Print Issue

October 21, 2020

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit