Indie folk music is distinguished by acoustic instruments and melodies with harmonized chord progressions. Lyrically, indie folk is often composed around themes like love, loss and existentialism – ideal genre for listening out for when traveling!
At our interview research we discovered that musicians who identify themselves as indie folk rely heavily on egalitarian aesthetics and “traditional” folk idioms to reduce hierarchy between musician as expert and audience member, creating an intimate yet communal setting.
Roots acts can vary widely in their approach to making music, from those who rely on outsized personalities (Johnny Cash or Deer Tick) to those whose work is profoundly sincere – such as The Avett Brothers. Brothers Scott and Seth Avett excel at this latter approach; playing banjo, guitar, cello, mandolin drums and keyboards they create rich harmonies which move audiences deeply while their lyrics speak of life’s hardships, love triumphs and humanity’s inextricability.
In the late ’90s, The Avett Brothers first formed when Seth’s college band Margo and Scott’s high school group Nemo combined into The Avett Brothers. Following several nights of acoustic guitar pulls and street performances, friends joined together with them to write music that eventually resulted in Country Was, their debut full-length album released in 2002. Later they recruited stand-up bassist Bob Crawford and drummer Mike Marsh as collaborators in writing songs as well as performing them live.
Soon enough, however, the band started making waves of its own with A Carolina Jubilee being released; featuring 70 hours of recording time and an increased focus on songwriting resulting in an album full of beautiful harmonies, poetic lyrics, and unremitting energy.
The Avett Brothers have continued to gain in both popularity and recognition with each release, starting with the 2008 Gleam series of EPs released between 2008 and 2016; The Second Gleam followed in 2016 while 2018 brought The Third Gleam album out, giving their rootsy sound back a chance as solo acoustic recordings were made to showcase only them.
In 2015, The Avett Brothers joined forces with singer Jessica Lea Mayfield for a collection of Elliott Smith covers released through Jessica Lea Mayfield Records. That same year saw the release of May It Last: A Portrait of The Avett Brothers documentary film. Since then they have continued touring extensively as well as making numerous TV show appearances, such as Late Show with David Letterman, Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Austin City Limits and an annual benefit concert to support hurricane relief.
Fleet Foxes are one of the best-known bands in indie folk music, hailing from Seattle and known for their intricate musical arrangements and haunting melodies. Collaborators with artists like Beach House, Father John Misty and Dirty Projectors. After starting as local performers they quickly gained popularity through word of mouth exposure before eventually going on to release three albums and various EPs; their latest effort Crack-Up released last year received critical acclaim.
The band has created an iconic sound, which marries elements of indie folk with rock and chamber pop. Their lyrics often have spiritual undertones that invoke mystery and beauty, drawing comparisons to Beach Boys or Crosby Stills & Nash as well as having an Autumnal feel indicative of their musical style.
Fleet Foxes made their international musical debut with their 2008 debut album Fleet Foxes and quickly made waves across both commercial and critical circles alike. Receiving many “best of” lists, as well as winning them the Grammy award for Best New Artist that same year, their second album Helplessness Blues followed in 2013. Finally, their third opus Crack-Up came out in 2017.
Other than Fleet Foxes, other bands influenced by indie folk include Agnes Obel, Ruby Throat and Seamonster. All have distinct sounds which combine different aspects of indie folk that is sure to please fans of this genre.
Fleet Foxes are an indie folk band from Seattle, Washington that formed in 2006. Composed of vocalist and guitarist Robin Pecknold, drummer Joshua Tillman, multi-instrumentalist Skyler Skjelset and multi-instrumentalist Skyler Skjelset; initially formed under the name The Pineapples before changing to Fleet Foxes for their self-released demo in 2007 which quickly garnered their initial fan base; shortly thereafter signed to Sub Pop Records where their debut album Fleet Foxes was released in 2008. Fleet Foxes was critically acclaimed with over 400,000 sold copies being sold!
Of Monsters and Men
Of Monsters and Men burst onto the music scene in early 2010s with their unique take on folk-pop that was reminiscent of Arcade Fire and Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes. Their breakthrough single, Little Talks, quickly rose to the top of charts across Europe and America while My Head Is An Animal was certified triple platinum in their home country of Iceland. Since then they have released both Beneath the Skin (2015 release) and Fever Dream (released a few years later) to further cement their place in music history.
At their recent show in Boston, Hilmarsdottir delivered on her promise to deliver an exciting live experience. The intimate Rockland Trust Bank Pavilion served as an ideal stage for their dynamic performance as it allowed Hilmarsdottir to comb through the crowd, connecting with fans on an individual basis while thanking her tech crew and dodging fans who tried snagging her drumsticks.
Fever Dream, their third release, marks yet another step toward perfecting and honing their sound. Here, they push beyond their previous musical styles while still remaining authentic to themselves and reflecting their natural inclinations. Featuring more acoustic instruments than in previous work as well as electric guitars and drums for an all-encompassing and more mature sound than ever before.
On stage, band members are highly engaging and enthusiastic to perform for their audience. Their energy is contagious and always met with enthusiastic responses from audiences; their music upholds hope with lyrics that motivate and empower people alike.
Though labeled alternative indie folk, these musicians frequently incorporate elements from other genres into their music. Acoustic rock influences are evident both in their live performances and catchy melodies and harmonies that set their music apart from others in this indie folk genre.
The Avett Brothers and Fleet Foxes are examples of bands who blend traditional indie folk with other influences like acoustic rock and country to create music with a fresh indie aesthetic, appealing to a broad spectrum of listeners. Their mix of styles makes them truly standout among their competitors and has helped build an admiration following.
Xavier Rudd is an Australian singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist known for his musical projects which explore topics like spirituality, humanity, environmentalism and Aboriginal peoples’ rights. Known as an Australian music festival circuit act as well as North American festival venues.
Xavier Rudd hails from Torquay, Victoria and is an award-winning singer-songwriter, guitarist and didgeridoo player with an emotive yet soulful vocal range. His songs encapsulate emotion while maintaining an original sound influenced by artists such as Bob Dylan, Nina Simone and Keller Williams.
Indie folk is a genre of music that blends traditional folk instruments with contemporary sounds and styles, often employing acoustic instruments like guitars and banjos, often dealing with introspective topics like love and heartbreak, as well as having influences that span from alternative rock to country music. Indie folk makes for great listening music with meaning!
Indie folk may be relatively new, yet it has quickly grown in popularity over recent years. Many listeners of indie folk appreciate its traditional yet organic feel as well as its signature harmonic melodies and rhythm guitar rhythms. Many fans also appreciate how independent bands often produce more natural-sounding music than mainstream counterparts.
Xavier Rudd is an Australian musician specializing in alternative indie folk. Born and raised near Bells Beach in Torquay, Victoria Australia he boasts both European and Aboriginal roots as well as having lived in Canada. Jan Juc Moon marks his tenth studio release.
Xavier Rudd is an accomplished musician with an avid following. His musical blend consists of folk, rock and blues influences that is entertaining and energetic during concerts he holds worldwide. An avid surfer who connects deeply to nature; an avid supporter of vegetarianism; as well as animal rights causes. Xavier has two children whom he devotedly cares for while supporting animal rights.