I spend a ridiculous amount of time listening to music (all kinds of music) and seeking out new or more obscure artists. I know not everybody has as much time as I do to sift through the ever growing collection of contemporary music and find artists or songs they like… So I have decided to put together a list of six of my favorite bands/musicians from the folk and americana “genres” of music.
I chose these six artists because I have listened to their songs extensively and found a unique connection with their music and maybe you will too. They are all true musicians, in the sense that they are more devoted to their craft than trying to achieve mainstream success. You are not likely to hear these artists on your local radio, but all of them will be performing in the chicagoland area in the next few months!
These are the type of musicians that sound even better live! And I think it is important to support touring musicians. I’m not a doctor but it’s probably good for your health too. I would kill to go to anyone of these concerts, but I’m still dealing with some issues with sound and vibration.
I carefully chose my favorite songs performed live from each of these groups to share with you. I’ll also include a short bio and attempt to describe their music, but mostly I will let the music speak for itself. I hope you enjoy listening to some of these artists and connect with their music. I hope even more that you end up going to one of their upcoming performances.
If you aren’t particularly interested in folk or americana, I wouldn’t write these guys(or girls) off before listening. Genres are a really bad way to categorize music. Each of these artist has a distinct sound and style.
FIRST AID KIT
“My Silver Lining”
First Aid Kit is a folk duo consisting two sisters: Johanna(27) and Klara(24) Söderberg, from the outskirts of Stockholm, Sweden. They are by far the most popular artists on this list and have been releasing music since 2007.
The sisters were inspired by many American folk singers from the 60’s and 70’s. Their music is folk to the core and they are known for their beautiful harmonies. First Aid Kit has already released three full length albums and two EPs but have a brand new album dropping on January 19th.
THE WIND + THE WAVE
“Happiness is Not a Place”
This is another duo, but from Austin, TX. The band consists of two friends, Dwight Baker and Patty Lynn: both long time touring musicians and songwriters. I would say the best way to characterize their music is as indie-folk or blues-rock? Regardless, their songs are often very bright, rhythmic, and uplifting. Their most recent album, Happiness is Not a Place, was released in October of 2016.
“Nose on the Grindstone”
Tyler Childers grew up in a small county in Kentucky and began singing at a young age in the local church choir. He soon learned to play guitar, and by age 19, he had already recorded his first record and was playing local gigs.
Tyler’s music has much more of a bluegrass, Americana feel. But it also resembles country music from the 70’s with his raw and gritty tone. His lyrics are deep and authentic. You can feel that in the song above as he reveals his struggle with substance abuse. He recently released his second studio album titled Purgatory in August of 2017.
“God of Loss”
Darlingside is a four man indie-folk band from Boston, MA. I find their songs generally create a sad atmosphere and instills a reflective feeling. It can be really beautiful but also kind of haunting. I am clearly not an expert at describing music, but you should definitely go check these guys out. Darlingside’s latest EP, Whippoorwill, was released in October of 2016.
Liza Anne is a 23 year old singer-songwriter from Georgia and currently based out of Nashville. She is considered in the folk genre but her music is very melodic, warm, and soothing. Her lyrics are part of what makes her songs so amazing as they are often stir up your imagination. She is open with her struggles with anxiety, especially in her song “Paranoia”. She has a new album dropping any day now, titled Fine but Dying.
“Make You Better”
The Decemberists are a folk rock band from Portland, Oregon. These guys are far from up and comers. They are well-established and have already released seven full length albums. Their songs are filled with vivid storytelling and often include a myriad of instruments from harmonica to accordion and everything in-between. I wasn’t going to include these guys but last minute the band announced their tour dates for the year…
Bonus Artist: JADE BIRD
Jade is a 20 year old British singer-songwriter from a small town in the northernmost county of England. She just released her debut EP titled Something American about 5 months ago. It’s only six songs, but you can already tell this girl is going to be a star. So much personality and raw talent. Her music is somewhere between Americana, folk, and country. She has a bright, atmospheric tone. Unfortunately, she isn’t touring the U.S. any time soon.