The Rise of Folk: The New Old Sound

There has been an influx of great music in 2011. Ignoring the normal pop and hip hop usually topping the charts, there is a trend of folk-indie sounds which are giving the normal headliners a run for their money. ‘New’ musicians who seem to have a very magical tone about their work. Songs which as a generation, we should be proud of. Kelsi Farrington elaborates on today’s music scene of the folky genre.

What is folk? According to Wikipedia, traditional folk music can be defined in several ways:

“as music transmitted by mouth, as music of the lower classes, and as music with unknown composers.”

With that in mind, we can look at the music of today and realise that a lot of the sounds creeping up the charts are from less known and less glamourised musicians who have  recorded their hits not in the normal studio setting.

Have a look at Bon Iver for example, this band has been around for 4 years now and they are just getting their due credit. 

Bon Iver’s debut album, For Emma, Forever Ago was recorded in 2007 in a quiet cabin in Wisconsin and after signing on to the indie label Jagjaguwa, released in 2008.

The band’s success before Jagjaguwa, depended entirely on word-of-mouth to gain the success of songs like ‘Skinny Love’ and ‘For Emma’.

Bon Iver, the American folk-band, will be releasing their third album this month titled: Bon Iver, Bon Iver.

“I brought in a lot of people to change my voice — not my singing voice, but my role as the author of this band, this project,” said Vernon.“I built the record myself, but I allowed those people to come in and change the scene.”

With bands like Bon Iver leading the way for Folk-sounds, there are other musicians emerging with the same knack for exercising their acoustics.

Many have heard the sounds of Mumford and Sons, the English folk rock band from London. Their band having formed the same year as Bon Iver have also taken the past year or so by storm. They, along with Laura Marling, Noah and the Whale and Johnny Flynn were said to have emerged from the ‘West London folk scene’.

The band, consisting of:  Marcus Mumford, Winston ‘Country’ Marshall, Ben Lovett and Ted Dwane, were similar to Bon Iver by rounding up their support themselves before they gained more recognition early last year after the release of their debut album, Sigh No More. 

Mumford and Sons, front-liners of the folk scene

Since then, Mumford and Sons have received two Grammy Award nominations: Best New Artist and Best Rock Song for hit “Little Lion Man”. After winning the ARIA Music Award for Most Popular International Artist and the Brit Award in 2011 for the Best British Album, the band have proved that Folk is definitely rising in popularity if done well.

With the latter bands having much more recognition than the following, we can only be pleased that so many have taken their lead…

Located more further afield are the folk brother and sister duo, Angus and Julia Stone. Hailing from Aus, the siblings have been on the folk music scene since 2006 after releasing their first EP, Chocolate and Cigarettes. The duo released their second EP Heart Full of Wine and their debut album A Book Like This the following year.

A Book Like This released late 2007 reached platinum. Their self-produced 2010 album, Down the Way was recorded by the siblings in various locations of solace. One of which being in an old sawmill on the river bank of Fowey in Cornwall.

The Stones have been able to receive global recognition for their mystical sweet sounds from home in Aus, to the US, to France…they are helping to pave the way for the emerging folk-indie artists of 2011.

One of which to look out for is Canadian Dallas Green whose musical alias is City and Colour. His folky sounds have been described as “dynamically gentle and vulnerable”.

Double Dallas

Green has been on the scene since 2004 but like the bands previously mentioned, has only recently been recognised in a wider scale.

James Vincent McMorrow is an Irish folksinger. Similar to Justin Vernon in not just looks and style, folk-newbee Mcmorrow also recorded his first album Early in the Morning in a place of complete seclusion. From within a beach house in Ireland, came the debut album which Mcmorrow released February last year. With a slightly higher pitched yet drearier tone than the latter bands, Mcmorrow still has the sound which seems to be bang on trend this year.

Sounds designed for the fleet of 2011 festivals, you will most likely see these artists if not their prodigies being on the forefront of the stages this year. Sounds which we can easily listen to during rainy days or even later on in the year when the weather cools. Wrapped up warm listening to the sounds of the decade’s take on folk promises bliss. The folk of today is showing definite promise for tomorrow.


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