Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Folk Posse

While sifting through my itunes I decided it would behoove me to make a "folk posse" playlist comprising my favorite folk artists. These artists however are more than just favorites, they are near and dear to my musical heart. They are "super favorites", like the friends you invite on vacation with you. They are as follows:

(In alphabetical order)

1. Bon Iver (Justin Vernon)- the music of justin vernon is pure genius. He combines simple structures with heavy overdubbed (but raw) falsetto vocals and just wonderfully beaten down sounding acoustic guitars. Despite just the aesthetic pleasure of the music, his songwriting is impeccable and his use of soul influenced melodies makes for some really awesome melodic lines. Luckily he is not TOO soulful and tactfully stays FAR FAR away from the likes of maroon 5/james blunt types -live by himself -off the album

2. Damien Rice- I kind of want to say he is the best songwriter I have ever heard. Every song this man writes is amazing and full of passion. His is one of the most honest artists i can think of. I've seen performances of him playing a song "Rootless Tree", which he has probably played a hundred times over, and he is still so passionate in his performance that his face is red and his hands are shaking by the end of it. Not to mention he has a fantastic group of musicians behind him, and HAD the incredible voice of Lisa Hannigan to accompany him. Unfortunately he seems to be one of those tragic "unfaithful to women" types, driving away his lovely accompanying talent haha. -EXPLICIT don't be offended

3.Eddie Vedder- okay this may not TOTALLY count, being that his work has been 98% within the confines of what has been called the greatest American rock band (Pearl Jam). HOWEVER, Eddie Vedder to me IS Pearl Jam, and all the great folky songs you hear in their albums are a result of him, I could list way too many to prove my point. Besides this his solo debut by way of the "Into the Wild" soundtrack, is amazing and has become a significant influence in my thinking of certain methods of songwriting.

4. Emiliana Torrini- again she may not REALLY count, because other than her album "Fisherman's Woman" her music is mostly some sort of indie/blues/pop/electronic/rock thing, which is a typical choice of non-mainstream women with good voices, and it is a much easier sound to identify than describe haha. The "Fisherman's Woman" album however is very stripped down, mostly consisting of just vocals and acoustic guitar, and is simply beautiful, and extremely meaningful when you learn the story behind the album. She wrote it after her fiance died before they could be married, makes some of the songs INCREDIBLY sad when you see them in relation to this.

5. Fionn Regan- this young Irishman is probably in my top 3 favorite songwriters and one of my favorite artists in any genre. He may have dropped a few places after his most recent album became much more "band" oriented (this i find is the downfall of many folk musicians after a successful first album). His lyrics don't make much sense, but thats okay, because they're are still clear and interesting. His guitar work and the production/atmosphere created by his music is what I love most about his music. -really cool -my favorite song of his, but I really love the studio version.

6. Iron and Wine (Sam Beam)- apparently he got the name "iron and wine" from a vitamin bottle? Iron and Wine is the exception to my rule that folk musicians are ruined by getting a band after they become popular. One of my favorite things about Iron and Wine is in fact his ability to use all the excess instrumentation to create a totally unique aesthetic. Sam Beam is one of the first people I remember using and incredibly breathy hushed voice as if it was normal, and then harmonizing and layering with it. This makes it like his voice blankets every song in a soft windblown sheet. I can't say enough good things really about his music I love the lyrics the vocals the production the guitar work, and the ever present but subtle use of slide guitars, in a NOT bluesy fashion. Blues slide guitar is awesome and I love it, but thankfully some people recognize it can be used in other ways haha. good example of the use of slide and using the extra instrumentation well.

7. Jose Gonzalez- only recently have a gained a strong love for Jose's music. He has a very unique sound using only finger picking and strumming on a nylon string guitar (aka classical guitar) and then combines this with a very straightforward unassuming way of singing. Its not hushed, but somewhat subdued. He uses nothing but the guitar to make beats and rhythms, but not in a cliche looped sort of way, and the end result is almost transic. He may be more of an acquired taste for some, but he is in no way abrasive, and I love his stuff.

8. M. Ward- somehow M. Ward is probably the most well known/famous/successful of these musicians, maybe second to Damien Rice. He is on the borderline of being in my "folk posse" and being just a favorite. But my love of his first album "Duet for Guitars #2" solidified his place in the group. He is more of your traditional strum and sing type singer-songwriter. But his old-timey and nostalgic feel is what draws me most to him.

9.Patrick Park- he is more of a straightforward type of singer songwriter as well. One notable fact is that he was born to parents who were BOTH professional poets, and his knack for lyrical interest is evident. There is a heavy country influence in his music as well, which would normally mean musical death for me, but luckily the vocals are smooth and not ridiculous. The vocals aren't AMAZING, but are good and the guitar work isn't going to impress. I think there is a good bit of nostalgia that makes me appreciate his music a bit more than I otherwise might.

10. Sun Kil Moon (Mark Kozelek)- this is one of the more remarkable and perfect blends of not so great vocals with great songwriting and atmosphere. Sun Kil Moon is some very soft melancholy music, and there is really nothing remarkable about it, especially since I can never understand the lyrics, its just really good.

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