Young folks focuses on the best, fresh folk, acoustic, singer-songwriter indie folk & alt-country jams. Turn it up Folks!
***guêmica boʒha=62 (Muisca numerical system)***
Rivers of England
‘Time Rolls On’
In early 2020, Rivers Of England were preparing to record their third album. When the pandemic took off they decided to continue with the recording project, but it forced them to change how they approached it. The greater time at home coincided with good weather and a period of greater reflection had arrived.
This is how Robin Spalding, frontman and songwriter recalls this time: “I live in a cottage in the woods and a two minute walk through the trees takes me to a river that opens out into a secluded lake. Each evening in the spring, I would take my guitar, mic, phone and chair to the riverbank and record the songs to a click track. Sitting in this environment and having more time changed how the songs developed – they had more of a classical singer songwriter feel to them as they had to work by the river in the first instance for them to be considered worthy of being on the EP. By the summer, we’d layered our parts on separately and found that this approach really suited our music.” Come with me to the riverbank at eight in the evening in spring and let the songs mean whatever you want them to.
The husband-and-wife writing and singing team of Josh and Nicole Johnson make up the Nashville-based duo Elenowen (named after Josh’s mother and Nicole’s father and pronounced “ellen-owen”). The couple met and fell in love in high school, marrying during Josh’s freshman year at Nashville’s Belmont University. Both pursued separate singing and music careers until 2009, when they joined forces and released their debut album, Pulling Back the Veil, in 2010. Selected to appear as contestants on the first season of the television show The Voice, Josh and Nicole were mentored by country singer Blake Shelton and picked up hordes of fans from their appearances on the show, even though they were eventually cut — by Shelton as judge, no less.
‘How’s it All Gonna End?’
It’s the sound of a song you half remember. A voice from some faraway radio. A glimpse of a now scratched record. You pause, reaching into that dark recess of memory for a brighter recollection, and return with nothing but the gnawing remembrance of something you’re sure you’ve forgotten. No satisfaction can be found: Sleepy Jean’s blend of American standard songwriting and folk sensibilities are unquestionably her own.
Borne from the bones of forgotten nostalgia, Sleepy Jean spent the better part of a decade frequenting tourist traps and hole-in-the-walls alike whilst sneakily sliding her self-penned songs amongst those of her contemporaries and reveries. Her wistful, smoky voice is equal parts Joni Mitchell and Etta James, and is known for that inimitable quality that evokes salty streams of tears and bloody bar fights alike. Her first recorded offering, Idle Hands, makes its way into the world midsummer 2021.
Idle Hands began as an exercise in self-soothing. The dawning of 2020’s Great Slowdown saw Jean watch her regular hustle and bustle as a working musician (playing over 250 dates a year!) disappear within the wink of an eye. In her effort to avoid the realities of global catastrophe, Sleepy turned inwards and spent the majority of her time dreaming up songs that felt comforting, yet addressed the anxieties and idiosyncrasies that peppered her newly empty days. “Hungry”, a sugary sardonic musing on social cannibalism, was the first to surface while “By the Oceanside”, a tribute to the harmonies of the Everly Brothers soon followed. Idle Hands sees Sleepy exploring her love of 1960’s folk music (“Smaller”, “I Don’t Belong”) while paying homage to the likes of Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald (“Moonshine”, “Downer”). The final track, “How’s it All Gonna End”, is both an ode to the Truman Show and an unnerving waltz that swells with a tension filled current as she ponders that titular, existential question.
Sleepy partnered with long time collaborator Dan Serre (Cat Clyde, Shitbats) to record and mix the majority of the 7 song extended play over the course of 2 months within the confines of a spare bedroom. Russ Donohue (Stonehouse Studios) aided in additional mixing, and mastering was completed by Kristian Montano (Montano Mastering) in Toronto, ON. Drums and vibraphone were provided by Marshall Bureau (Great Lake Swimmers, Jill Barber), with additional playing from Kaelin Murphy (trumpet), Phil Bosley (upright bass) and Al Aguilar (synthesizers). A long-play is expected to follow in early 2022.
Pawns or Kings
Mark J. Lee is a Devon born songwriter and performing musician steeped in traditional country and old time sensibilities. Resonant, raw tenor vocals over sparse, cinematic arrangements are the formula for his charmingly bleak 21st century frontier ballads.
Influenced as much by writers like Kurt Vonnegut and Ernest Hemingway as he is by Townes Van Zandt, Hank Williams and George Jones, Mark meshes traditional country forms with stark, outsider poetry into what he describes as ‘Honky Tonk music for the end of the world’.
‘Middle of You’
[indie folk/lo-fi rock]
Rooted in tradition but driven to push the limits, folk-rock and Americana band Comanche Moon is known for delivering expansive soundscapes that convey the desolation and toughness of the band’s native Texas Panhandle and often slip effortlessly into upbeat rock and roll.
Born into Texas cattle ranching families, the band’s founding members, Mark Erickson and Chandler Sidwell, grew up steeped traditions of cowboy folk music and storytelling. In their teenage years, they discovered rock and roll and devoured the music of 60s and 70s British and American rock bands that were taking traditional American blues and country and driving them through guitar amps at high volume. Likewise, Comanche Moon pursues a sound that is grown out of a deep musical tradition, but is new and fresh in its own time.
Comanche Moon releases its second full length LP called ‘Last Golden Rays’ in 2021, beginning with upbeat single, ‘Middle of You.’ Last Golden Rays was recorded at Modern Electric Sound Recorders in Dallas, TX and produced by the band’s own, Timothy Allen.
The band scored regional acclaim after the released its debut LP, the twelve-track ‘Country Music Deathstar,’ in August of 2018. Comanche Moon will be touring throughout summer and fall of 2021.
The 29ers have that stuff, funneling it into a unique sound with an alt-country edge and Americana twang inspired by such singer/songwriter icons as John Prine, Guy Clark, Tom Waits and Waylon Jennings. When it comes to the music they love and the music they create, the 29ers are passionate about well-crafted songs grounded in compelling narrative truths.
The 29ers’ story began a decade ago, when Mike “Seve” Balitsaris opened a custom leather shop in Wayne, Pa., a vibrant town not far from Philadelphia. “It was a throwback bohemian enclave—like a well-curated pawn shop,” says Balitsaris. “There was a ’40s-era Harley police motorcycle in the main aisle and a 1958 Airstream out front.”
‘Calm Through the Clearing’
A District of Columbia-based filmmaker and singer/songwriter, Raul Zahir De Leon has always been inspired by individual stories that highlight the American experience; particularly those that evoke the breadth of challenges and struggles evident throughout this country. His lo-fi folk songs pull from a variety of influences and elements, blended into a sonic tapestry uniquely his own.
Canandaigua kicked off as a solo project, although on occasion enlists a rotating chair of friends to join in. The project builds on the poetic narrative storytelling De Leon employed in his previous outfits, Stamen & Pistils, Radel Esca, and Dead Artists.
Over the years De Leon has shared stages with a diverse list of artists such as Dirty Projectors, Akron/Family, Beach House, Yacht, The Blow, Telepathe, Asobi Seksu, and more.
Additionally, as part of the Wilderness Bureau collective, De Leon helped launch music sites All Our Noise, and Bandwidth, the latter for NPR member station WAMU. De Leon produced and directed countless video session performances and interviews by a wide range of artists such as Kevin Morby, Sharon Van Etten, Mac DeMarco, Sylvan Esso, Death, Rodrigo Amarante, The Dirty Three, My Brightest Diamond, Mount Eerie, Julie Doiron, and many more.
Melbourne singer-songwriter Ernest Aines is on a roll, starting a string of releases bound for his debut album out early 2022. The first single is “So Far”, Americana in style, a foot stomping tune about the pursuit of satisfaction in life. It sounds like a blend of the Eagles “Life in the Fast Lane” and Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain”, except it has a lot more banjo. The song was mixed by Grammy award winning Hugo Nicolson (engineer on Radiohead’s “In Rainbows”). The song is supported by a Spaghetti Western style music video filmed in a deserted gold mining village near Maldon, Victoria, featuring Ernest and his band mates in cowboy mode.
Selection this year by Sounds Australia for the huge online Folk Alliance International conference and showcase, playing Isol Aid and current collaborations with international artists as part of Global Music Match is boosting Ernest’s visibility and reputation in the Folk world. Early bookings for festivals such as Port Fairy Folk Festival 2022 are a sign he is being picked up on radar of music lovers and industry people alike.
‘Some Guy Named David’ – Acoustic
Bili Cole is the solo project started by producer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Cole Deiner. The project is heavily influenced by the early and new Alt-country scene. It blends Cole’s influences in hip-hop, pop, indie rock and poetry.
[indie folk/chamber pop]
If the warmth of company can combat the cold of distance and solitude, then in the pairing of their singular visions, Remy Boccalatte and Kane Mazlin surely stir the fires of folk and reverie. Within the comfort of that gentle crackle forms an ageless Simon and Garfunkle-esque pop, held not by the calendar or the clock, but by shared imagination. This recent work is still deeply rooted in dreamfolk, although is being pushed into newer territory, looking strike a balance between acoustic and electronic elements, creating a surreal feeling of nostalgia. Sophomore album is currently being recorded.
Compiled by: Christos Doukakis