If you go

What: Horse Feathers

When: 9 p.m. Thursday

Where: Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder, 303-443-3399

Cost: $15-$17

More info: foxtheatre.com

When: 9 p.m. Friday

Where: Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave., Denver, 303-377-1666

Cost: $15-$18

More info: bluebirdtheater.net

If you don't really know how to feel about life, the universe and everything, Horse Feathers is a band for you.

Justin Ringle's indie-folk project's April 2012 record is titled Cynic's New Year, and it suits the music's blend of, well, cynicism and hopefulness. Ringle's lyrics feel personal, but universal at the same time -- capturing a feeling best described with a heavy sigh.

"For whatever reason, 2011, when I was working on most of the material and recording the record was -- just to put it bluntly -- just a shitty year. Not just for me personally, but for people I know. In general, 2011 was kind of a bummer," Ringle said. "I just responded to that both optimistically and pessimistically. As per usual working on most records, I work on music all the time, and oftentimes it's not until later that I see there's a theme. The songs that were collected were a lot about circumstances that embodied that sentiment of 2011 being kind of shaky."


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He came up with the album's title as an "umbrella statement" for the songs he collected, but also as a statement that feeling so cynical is a good reason for an attitude adjustment.

"I looked at the concept of Cynic's New Year as looking at the next year ... as a hopeful thing, like maybe it will be different," he said.

But making the record wasn't entirely fueled by feeling down. Ringle worked from a studio in his hometown of Portland, rather than his usual studio in Washington, and enlisted the help of more musicians. With talent only a phone call and trip through town away, he was able to work with woodwind and horn sounds, which he hadn't done before.

"I invited a lot more people in on the project. It ended up being a larger cast of characters, but individually, song by song, there's only a couple that display how many people were on the record," Ringle said. "It was refreshing, you know? I felt like it was awesome for me to be able to expand on some songs in a larger instrumental sense that way."

Horse Feathers has been touring North America and Europe on and off since the record's release. Ringle said he'll get back to writing in January, and it's anyone's guess -- including his -- whether the next album will share Cynic's New Year's mood.

"I would say this time I'm going back to the drawing board more than ever because I never know, really, what I'm gonna do until I start doing it. I think that's kind of a weird trick with music stuff. I think if you push it too hard in a direction you've already outlined, it's kind of contrived," he said. "I really don't know, but I'm confident in not knowing"