posted 2017-07-07, 15:47:42
updated 2017-07-07, 15:47:42
Hello friends, and apologies for the delay between posts. Exams being the main culprit here, which kept me extremely busy over the past month. This post will be the first of probably many on the topic as I truly love folk music in all its forms, more on that and the 5 albums I selected after the break. The topic this time is Indie Folk, which doesn't really mean a whole lot, but conjures images of contemporary acoustic-and-banjo folk music typical of the English-speaking West (Britain, USA, Canada, Australia).
Folk music was the first music I ever got into, way before I even knew I liked music in the broad sense; I'm talking like 5 or 6 years old at this point. There was a Simon & Garfunkel best-of album in the car that I'd always make sure we heard start to finish on each trip back and forth on our semi-regular visits to the countryside every month or two. Beyond S&G, my folk interest never really developed until a friend brought me along on to go to the week-long Woodford Folk Festival - the biggest festival of its kind in the southern hemisphere - up in rural Queensland, North-East Australia. I heard the most amazing variety of music there, but I'll save that for the intro of another post. Suffice it to say that I came back home with a dozen albums and a brand new world of music to plunge myself into.
Sons Of The East - Sons Of The East
Sons of the East are an indie-folk trio hailing from Sydney, on the east coast of Australia (I'm not biased! I only found this out after I'd decided to write about the album). They're reminiscent of early Mumford & Sons but bringing the full indie-folk vibe with less members. The multi-instrumentalist lads pull a lot of weight, with their debut self-titled EP featuring acoustic guitar, banjo, harmonica, piano, bass and percussion (even a didgeridoo in one track, though that might be sampled). This EP is short and sweet, with 5 songs totaling under 20 minutes, but it covers a range of moods from a touch withdrawn and melancholic to foot-stomping and upbeat; and it's practically dripping that genuine raw, and slightly unrefined sound that can only come from a debut number, which really lends itself to contemp-folk music. Though that's not to say their more well-produced music is without merit - I absolutely adore Into The Sun from their next release, Already Gone (another very solid album - worth checking out if you like this one).
[ Soundcloud ]
Currently soundcloud is the only source I can provide for now, I've bought the album and will rip and upload once it arrives.
The Oh Hellos - Through the Deep, Dark Valley
This has been a favourite of mine since it released, I managed to catch it early on as I discovered them right as this album came out. The core of the Oh Hellos are Texan siblings Maggie and Tyler Heath, though their music is so big in scope that they need backing for live gigs, and you'll find out quickly why when you listen. Their music is characterised by layered vocals, lyrical and non-lyrical with backups, and the lovely duets of Tyler and Maggie, both of whom individually would rank among my favourite folk vocalists, but together produce something far beyond anything I've heard. Instrumentation-wise there's a generally a lot of acoustic guitar and a lot of banjo played hard and fast, sometimes more sometimes less. Songs like The Truth is a Cave make use of extensive percussion, string and vocal ensembles, whereas I Have Made Mistakes is far more emotional and slower using only an acoustic, a banjo and the duet.
The Tallest Man On Earth - The Wild Hunt
The Wild Hunt is by far the least accessible album in this post, but perhaps the most rewarding to appreciate. The Tallest Man On Earth is the solo folk act of Swedish singer-songwriter Kristian Matsson, whose style has been influenced by old American folk, such as Dylan, Guthrie and Seeger. While Matsson's style has been compared to Dylan, I'm not too sure that it gives an accurate idea of his sound. His vocals are haggard, rough, strained, yet beautiful and charming and so appropriate for the beautiful lyrics he writes. Accompanying that is very little it's simply Matsson and his guitar (or piano, as in Kids on the Run), yet the music in no way sounds bare. Lastly the recording is rather lo-fi, a slight crackle and clipping on certain peaks fits the raw texture of the vocals very well.
[ 320 ]
Amelia Curran - Hunter Hunter
Hunter Hunter is a much more somber affair when compared to the other albums in this list. It's the kind of folk album that complements a stiff drink and a pensive melancholy. The music consists primarily of Curran's vocals and her guitar playing, with the occasional accordion/double bass backing; and is much slower and more thoughtful than the other albums in this list. Something of note is that Amelia Curran is from Newfoundland, which has possibly the strongest folk music scene in the world to my knowledge, especially for such a small region - at some stage I'd like to write a post just for Newfoundland folk.
[ 320 ]
Gregory Alan Isakov - That Sea, The Gambler
Another slowish one, but slightly more upbeat and positive than Hunter Hunter, this album has a slight country feel to it, but is still most definitely folk music. Primarily centered around acoustic guitar/mandolin instrumentation, and of course Isakov's soft and pleasant voice. The sample song is my favourite on the album, and basically embodies the feeling of this album overall, so if you like the song you ought to like the album too.
DL Folder https://eggy.moe/piracy/?Folk1