Top Ten Thursday: Folk University – A Primer in Folk Music

folk music

Today, we are looking at the top ten folk artists of all time.  I think at the end of piecing this list together, none of us were particularly happy that some of our individual favorites didn’t make it.  But that’s what happens when three individuals make a list this comprehensive.  Setting that aside, let’s venture into the wonderful world of folk music through a little exercise I like to call Folk University – or Folk U.  Sorry about the bad pun, but I couldn’t help myself this time.

Folk music has a lot of definitions, so we tried to stick to artists that have a wealth of material that would widely be considered “folk music”.  This cut a couple borderline people out, but thus is the process of trying to form these lists.  Each of the next ten artists holds a special place in our heart for one reason or another.  Let us know who we left out, and who some of your favorite folkies are.  Enjoy!

10.  Nick Drake

nick drake

Nick Drake burned extremely bright for a few years before dying of a drug overdose. He remains mysterious in almost all ways except for his talent, highlighted by his breathy vocals and vocal style that Trey Anastasio has clearly taken a few cues from.

Folk U Mandatory Listening:  “One of These Things First”
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Top Ten Thursday: Best Artists of the Aughts (2000-2009)

best_of_the_aughts

This was a particularly tough list to put together.  On average, order one of our Top Ten lists takes about 45 minutes.  Over an hour and a half into our last meeting, we still only had the top six ironed out for this one.  We ended up just individually ranking the final eight candidates individually, and normalizing the results to select the final four on the list.  It worked out though, and I didn’t even have to swan dive off my balcony, as I threatened several times throughout the meeting.

So let me tell you a little bit about our decision making process in selecting the top ten artists of the first decade of the new millennium.  It was about as simple as weighing quantity and quality.  To some degree, we also factored in the amount of lackluster material an artist had working against them.  In the end, ever artist in the ten had at least three good to great albums during the decade.  Painfully, M.I.A., LCD Soundsystem, and a few others didn’t have the consistent presence throughout the entire decade like most others on here and missed out.  Also, great artists like Beck, Ryan Adams, Spoon, and Bright Eyes just missed out because while they had the quantity, their highs just weren’t quite as high as others on the list.

So there you have it.  Enjoy the read, and as always let us know who me missed, left off, or mistakenly included.

10.  The Strokes

the strokes, full band pic

The Strokes were one of those rare bands where the product lived up to all the hype preceding them.  They produced some refreshingly honest pop music that ushered a whole new group of fans into “indie” music.  Beneath the surface of The Strokes instantly accessible music were simple but perfect harmonies, taking them beyond what was expected of an early-20’s rock outfit in the early 2000’s.
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Bonnie “Prince” Billy Review: Now Here’s My Plan

Bonnie “Prince” Billy

Now Here’s My Plan

Bonnie Prince Billy, Now Here's My Plan, album, cover, art

I can assure you it is a coincidence that I am reviewing an EP for the second week in a row, and am not so lazy that I have decided to solely review half-albums.  It just so happens two of my very favorite artists (The other being The Antlers who released Undersea a couple weeks ago) have released EP’s within a short span, and I feel the need to give my opinion on each.  On Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s new EP, Now Here’s My Plan, Will Oldham (who is the real name behind the ridiculous moniker) takes six tracks from his extensive catalogue, rearranges them, and brings them forth in a whole different light.  The result turns out to be Oldham’s most consistent release since 1998’s Lie Down In the Light, and further proves he has been one of the greatest songwriters of our generation.
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LxListening: This & That

Will Oldham, creepy, Bonnie, Prince, Billy, Grinning
Who said LxL doesn't have a little bit of creep to them?

I am unable to craft some clever or ironic theme for LxListening this week, so you get the leavings of some of my favorite tracks of 2011 that never got any press on our site.  Give em’ a listen; you might like it.
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