I can now officially answer when people ask me what kind of music I like: folk music. Now, before you click away thinking I’m wandering strawberry fields with crowns of daisies sewn into my hair, you have to know that folk music is not just your hippie father’s bands anymore. With chart topping releases from bands like Of Monsters and Men and local Canadian phenomes like Dan Mangan, this once pseudo-sub-culture of music has made a resurgence in the past decade and much to the happiness of my ears! What I love about folk music is the lack of reliance on synthetic voices, overly elaborate instrumentals and desperate production value; instead, the music is often just a few pieces from a band (if not simply a guitar) and the soulful voice of the singer. And, my band pick today: The Lumineers, are no different. They’re nominated for Best New Artist at the upcoming Grammys.
An American folk band from “the heart” of the US in Denver, the band consists of Wesley Schultz, Jeremiah Fraites and Neyla Pekarek and their few specially chosen instruments: oh, and they sound freaking amazing. They came out Spring 2012 and have just this month been certified gold for their self-titled album in Canada, the US and Ireland. What I love the most about this band is the simplicity of the lyrics (a far cry from the complex metaphors of Of Monsters and Men), the perfection of Schultz’s voice and the constant nostalgic theme of their songs. It’s honestly the perfect band to relax and remember the ol’ days to even if you’re barely a decade out of high school like myself. The band is up for a Grammy as “Best New Artist” so you know they’re not messing around. Below are my top three picks of theirs including the smash hit “Ho Hey” that was featured to huge accolades on “The Heart of Dixie” (a show which I am NOT endorsing but I know fellow writer Tommy just looooves).
Very much in the “we’re not just band mates, we’re also friends who get along and enjoy wearing hipster outfits” style of Walk Off the Earth, Ho Hey is a tragic love poem written after the relationship has ended. It’s direct, honest and anyone who misses an ex can relate. Having had no ex-boyfriend myself, my favourite is the group sing that turns into a anthemic chant. A killer song and it’s clear how this blew this band up and into the ears and hearts of those who heard it.
This song is one of those painfully short whispers that makes you wish it was 9 times as long but at the same time you know that would ruin everything amazing about it. It completely reminds me of an elementary school camp song that looks at growing older in just three paragraphs. Flowers In Your Hair is a beauty as it rounds up the theme of youth being wasted on the young as you wish you can redo your childhood as an adult but realize you can’t and it’s best to just admit it and remember the fun and find love now. It’s never completely my favourite to sing along to “boy loves girl” lyrics as a gay boy but ah well- it’s a helluva song and I’ll belt those lyrics word for word!
Finally, a full length song, Stubborn Love straight up gets me every time. If it hasn’t become clear yet, I die when there’s chanting by the band in unison that verges on beautiful singing- if you’ve ever driven past me in my car it’s the point at which I look like I’m screaming at the guy in front of me but really I’m just rockin’ out. About a heartbreaking girl you’d do anything to keep, this song is not bound by the gender of its protagonists and likely rings true for a chunk of people out there who keep going back to that mr/ms wrong just to avoid being alone and losing them. It’s slow and fast and soft and loud and I love every second of it. Tell me what you think about this one and the band below- they’re definitely on my radar now and I can’t wait for more!