folk posts

Thao Nguyen

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008 by Michelle

alt-country // indie folk

Thao Nguyen’s songs leap with a frantic life of their own. Energetic, honest and raw, the songs off We Brave Bee Stings and All, Nguyen’s sophomore album, are immediately engaging. Her talents as a songwriter are more than matched by her adeptness on the guitar. This talent translates into her own brand of indie folk that recalls elements of alt-country and blues, with the guitar chops to match. Whether alone, or with her backing band of The Get Down, Stay Down, Thao Nguyen is a force to be reckoned with. “Bag of Hammers” has been making the rounds on a number of mp3 blogs, but we thought this one was too good not to post.

Dynamic indie folk with a swagger.
Thao Nguyen – Bag of Hammers
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Sophie Hunger

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008 by Julija

singer-songwriter // folk

Sophie Hunger’s debut album Monday’s Ghost (2008) delivers well crafted, haunting and atmospheric folk. As the album captures the ear for its melancholy sensibility and Sophie’s beautifully fragile voice, the peculiar arrangements and sound effects recall the ethereal style of Stina Nordenstam and emotional depths of Anna Ternheim. With “House Of Gods” and “Walzer Für Niemand” the Swiss singer-songwriter creates a certain chilly feeling and a rather enigmatic atmosphere. (Thanks, Philipp!)

Distinctive and hypnotic compositions.
Sophie Hunger – House Of Gods
Sophie Hunger – Walzer Für Niemand

[Editor’s Note]: Sophie’s label doesn’t want this to be a download (‘stream only!’), but Sophie herself is fine with it. What do you all say? Is it important to download the mp3 or no?
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Sylvie Lewis

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008 by Julija

folk // jazz // singer-songwriter

Exposed to music at an early age, a graduate of prestigious Berklee School of Music, London-born and Rome-based Sylvie Lewis displays a sweet, clear voice and remarkably literate songwriting skills. Musically, Sylvie’s charming style varies from simple folk melodies to the subtle and sophisticated arrangements. Vocally, it ranges from the light-hearted to the moody crooning. “Starsong… What Became Of Us”, an opening track from her latest album Translations (2007), captures the ears for its appealing, catchy vocal lines and Sylvie’s clever, warm phrasing.

Tasteful singing, reflective songwriting.
Sylvie Lewis – Starsong… What Became Of Us
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Robert Francis

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008 by Michelle

singer-songwriter // folk // americana

One By One, the debut album from L.A. native Robert Francis is deceptively simple and sparse — unexpected considering his contributions to the record were not limited to guitar and vocals, but also included percussion, piano, banjo, glockenspiel and bass. Despite this multi-instrumentation, the album never overwhelms, but provides space for his often heartbreaking lyrics to breathe. Through his gravelly voice and artful songwriting, Francis presents us with songs of loss, heartache and nostalgia with an authenticity that is startling for his young age.

An aching, leisurely trip on rural back roads.
Robert Francis – Little Girl
Robert Francis – Alice
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Wallis Bird

Saturday, May 10th, 2008 by Julija

singer-songwriter // folk

Currently living and working in London, Irish singer-songwriter and a self-taught guitarist Wallis Bird has travelled the world and began her career in Germany, where she formed a band with her musician friends. Wallis approaches her music with bold honesty and integrity as she moves beyond the female singer-songwriter stereotypes with her style ranging from grunge folk to buoyant and lively pop. Original and fresh enough to appeal to a wide variety of listeners, “Counting To Sleep” brings to mind the strength and openness of Ani DiFranco.

The strong melody and clever wit.
Wallis Bird – Counting To Sleep
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Alex & Sam

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008 by Michelle

indie folk // acoustic pop

When I first heard the gentle tunes of Alex & Sam, it was absurd how quickly I became enamored with their jazz-influenced, indie folk sound. Throughout their debut E.P., Sounds Like This: Part One, the duo’s deceptively simple melodies and intimate vocals are paired with full strings, keyboards, horns and a gentle percussion that keeps the whole record moving. Whether it’s Alex or Sam taking the vocal lead (or both), each song is a gem, lovely and unexpected.

Effortless melodies and intoxicating harmonies.
Alex & Sam – Buy Your Side
Alex & Sam – Land Of The Free
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The Delano Orchestra

Monday, March 10th, 2008 by Anne Cloudman

french folk // indie

French ensemble, The Delano Orchestra, use everything from the bouzouki to the glockenspiel to craft their elegant understated tracks, but it’s the soft-spoken, whispered vocals that create their intimate sound. Scratchy electric guitars and soothing trumpets fill out the somber “Between Day and Night” while the melody of “Spread Our Little Wings” exudes a warming charm. Both tracks are from their endearingly-named debut album A little girl, a little boy, and all the snails they have drawn.

Fragile innocence meets textured instrumentals.

The Delano Orchestra – Between Day & Night
The Delano Orchestra – Spread Our Little Wings
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Kat Flint

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008 by Julija

folk // singer-songwriter

With her little piano-folk melodies, gently played acoustic guitars and well thought out lyrics, Scottish songstress Kat Flint embodies the essential aspects of contemporary folk music. The lyrical notes, vibrant freshness and catchy multi-layered vocal lines of “Go Stripes Faster” instantly captured my heart, while addictive hand-claps and kazoo-playing of “Anticlimax” showcase the quirkier side of her songwriting skills. Stylistically comparable to numerous folk-oriented artists, Kat brings emotion and a distinctive quality to every song she crafts.

A promising talent to the newly flourishing British folk scene.
Kat Flint – Go Faster Stripes
Kat Flint – Anticlimax
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Mechanical Bride

Sunday, February 17th, 2008 by Julija

british folk

You might not have heard of oddly named Mechanical Bride, a.k.a. Lauren Doss, a young folk songstress from Brighton, but there’s a pretty big chance her song “Umbrella” will sound familiar. Mechanical Brides’ radical rework of Rihanna’s R&B styled “Umbrella” renders the ubiquitous hit into a beautiful folk ballad. Slowing the tempo down and adding a slightly eerie feeling to it, Mechanical Bride bewitches with gentle piano refrains, tender voice and haunting whispers, not only making it a highly successful cover, but giving it a whole new meaning.

Unexpectedly original interpretation.
Mechanical Bride – Umbrella
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Sea Wolf

Sunday, December 9th, 2007 by Michelle

singer-songwriter // indie folk

Alex Brown Church, the man at the helm of Sea Wolf, enlisted the help of other members of the Ship (a collective of bands and artists in the LA area), to flesh out the tracks on his debut album Leaves in the River. The well-crafted and detailed album is testament to Church’s discerning ear and his years of songwriting with the band Irving. The darkly emotive songs are forlorn and soothing at once, a characteristic that makes the record one of my favorites of this year.

“Like a sudden rush of water through your heart and lungs.”
Sea Wolf – Middle Distance Runner
Sea Wolf – The Cold, The Dark & The Silence
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