We love folk music here at IMN because we love stories. The best folk music, young or old, is not only vibrant and earthy sounding but it’s also full of story and purpose.
Yet another edition of a series where we look at some of the best lesser-known folk acts out there now. Through submissions and searches we brushed this recent batch out with an old wooden comb. Check out our most recent edition of the finest of folk.
Rich and immediately storied, Cricket Blue is the Vermont folk duo of Laura Heaberlin and Taylor Smith. There’s a complex harmony here between these two. Undeniably attached yet altogether seperate, Laura and Taylor seem to exist independently of each other even though they’re always singing the same song. It’s a endlessly satisfying experience that at best of times, sends shivers down your spine, and at the worst of times, cracks a smirk across your mug. They’re songwriting is dynamic, journeyed and proud. They’re lyrics have heft and hold.
Favourite tracks, Kentucky, Angela Carter.
The Oh Hellos
We love folk music here at IMN because we love stories. The best folk music, young or old, is not only vibrant and earthy sounding but it’s also full of story and purpose. Maybe throw in some handclaps here and there, the chance for a rallying cry at some point, always underlaid by a delicate or straight-forwardly powerful guitar and you’ve made half of us cry while the other half stare off into a now strangely poignant corner of the room. Most importantly, folk music needs to mean something and have direction. The Oh Hellos are wandering straight down the folk path with an undeniably humble swagger. There’s a deep design here that makes The Oh Hellos more than just another (somewhat poppy) folk band. Straight from the source: “This album is a collection of letters, all written by a single protagonist and addressed to a single recipient, a conversation to which the listener is an observer as a relationship gone wrong reaches its breaking point – the words and music are at times affectionate and bittersweet, at others resigned and resolute.” With hints of Nick Drake and maybe what was good about Mumford and Sons (i.e. powerful choral performances that just beat the piss out of your chest and face), The Oh Hellos are every reason to keep exploring the genre. The Lumineers and Mumford and Sons haven’t killed it this kind of folk, and The Oh Hellos are proof.
We’ll admit, we got wind of Maggie Rogers from a viral video of her playing her music for Pharrell, like many other people probably did. I guess the thing is, we haven’t really been able to stop listening. Proof that folk is adaptable, weaving its way into other genres and landscapes, Maggie Rogers’ insanely hip and sleek single, ‘Alaska’, doesn’t seem to age. Her back catalogue is equally as impressive if you haven’t yet gotten around to it. Perhaps that’s what keeps us coming back to ‘Alaska’. Check out her ‘Blood Ballet’ LP – we’ve posted it just below her big single. The LP is clean, full of clarity and poise. Maggie’s sound is strong, rippled-back kind of music. She’s got more than just spine though, she’s full of heart and gut.
Favourite tracks: Resonant Body, Anybody, Blood Ballet
The video may seem like it’s just a very literal interpretation of the song, but isn’t that what’s great about folk music? ‘Turn Down For What?’ is translated into a visual coke and red-bull raging sextacular. But it’s not a story. It’s just a couple of minutes of pointless humping. (Don’t get us wrong, we love it.) Ali Beletic‘s single ‘Walk this Earth’ is just exactly what you would imagine from her pensive, melancholic sound. You’re walking around with Ali in both your conscious and subconscious simultaneously. You’re right there with her and then you become the sound, so long as you lend yourself to the wandering nature of this track. Go ahead, you don’t have to be anywhere… have a think… have a wander…