So before a lot of people start to assume that I listen only to hip hop and rap, or others that I’m an over-aged angry punk rocker, here’s a list of newer folk music I really enjoy. I think deep down when all is said and done, I am really just a big time hippie.
I don’t know what folk music really is, nor do I like putting music into genres, but this is just what I think of when I think of folk music, and I really like the fact that it seems to be coming back, at least commercially it is much more visible. There is no order to this (and that’s just the way I like it) list.
I heard this band with my wife, then girlfriend, after one of her best friend’s weddings. They had planned for those that were still up for partying to accompany them to the show. We bought their album that night, and fell in love with this band. But besides the emotional connections to our memories, their music always makes me yearn for a good walk through a forest away from the city for a bit, which is probably intended since they have been known to write a few songs, and albums in fact, amongst nature’s wilderness. They also use an accordion, which is very cool when it is made to rock.
2. Devendra Banhart
This guy’s music just blows me away, not because it’s so complicated, but because it seems so simple and effortless. It just seems like so much fun. It’s also very worldly, and if you read any information about him, you’ll understand why. He might be a bit theatrical for some, but I find it comically refreshing.
His electronic stuff might not be so folky, but his music displays the sounds of the world and of the past. He delves heavily into eastern European sounds, a bit of Paris mixed in, and has even recorded half an album with a Mexican folk band. I include him because he plays the ukulele.
4. Y La Bamba
I must admit that this is a band that I have only found recently and am a bit disappointed with myself for not having found them earlier. Their name was something that kind of scared me away at first, but after watching a few videos on Youtube, I was impressed. Their from Portland, which, no way, really, but yeah, they are very cool. I just really liked all the harmonizing that this band has going on.
5. Animal Collective
This band is a whole different animal if you will. The collective is really just four guys, that pretty much exchange leads on songs, and not always with all four members. Though they include a lot of electronics, I find their approach to be very folk, especially at how songs sound like jam sessions. As they’ve gotten bigger, their projects have gotten more ambitious, but their is still a lot of soul to their music. Avey Tare and Panda’s solo projects are also very good, and in my opinion much more focused than Merriweather Post Pavilion.
6. Andrew Jackson Jihad
I will admit that the name was the first thing that made me want to check out this band. Let’s face it, it’s evocative. And sometimes, there music is as well, but for the most part their music is a lot of fun. There’s a lot of videos where you can check them out using a stand up bass and a washboard. They have a song about people that eat people being the luckiest people of all. Check them out if you have a sense of humor.
Two sisters. Something about Americans going to live in Paris, and making music. They use children’s toys as instruments, and often sing in child like tones, which are actually more haunting than soothing. This is hippie music for the ex-goth kid.
8. Kimya Dawson
As half of The Moldy Peaches, Kimya Dawson demonstrated quite a sarcastic wit. With the soundtrack for Juno, she demonstrated a much softer and mature side, which is where she is usually at now as a solo artist. She also creates children’s music, which she performs where half of the show is meant for the kids, while the second half is aimed at their parents. I’ve also heard a few songs from a project she’s working on with Aesop Rock, which I have been eagerly anticipating.
These guys’ music makes me very happy. It is a bit commercial at times, and sometimes I do feel it’s more about aesthetics with them, but I must admit that they put on a good show.
Although since losing Ryan Vanderhoof the band does not sound completely the same in my opinion. They are still a very good band, which jams out like the best bands of the 60’s and 70’s. I guess I really like bands that have a lot of harmonizing.
Maybe the only thing these bands have in common is that they fill me with nostalgia.