Lesser-Known Folk Rock Bands Like Mumford & Sons
When Mumford & Sons burst on the scene back in 2011 with their stateside debut, they were met by mainstream media with utter enthusiasm. People were writing phrases like “folk revival” and “the new folk rock.”
Meanwhile, many of us were well aware that folk music had never died and folk-rock, especially, was popping up in all sorts of new and interesting places. From Brooklyn to Seattle, across North Carolina and all the way to Los Angeles, the indie folk music scene over the past few years had been thumpin’.
If this is news to you, or if you’re a folk convert thanks to Marcus Mumford and friends (or the Lumineers, the Lone Bellow, or any number of other like-minded bands), here is a great place to start. Check out these classic and lesser-known folk-rock artists and get a firmer grip on the wide, diverse world of rocking acoustic music.
Born in the Seattle, Washington indie rock scene, The Head and the Heart predated Mumford’s arrival in the U.S. by at least a few months. Though they don’t capture exactly the same aesthetic, they’re certainly pairing modern rock with classic folk-pop elements in a way which is catchy, familiar, and compelling all at once.
Their sophomore album, Let’s Be Still, made its way around the scene after its 2013 release and they certainly gave the Mumford’s a run for their money. The 2016 album, Signs of Light, further proved the band’s hold on the mainstream’s affection for millennial folk-rock.
Another outstanding Seattle export, the Cave Singers play exquisite stripped-down, lyrics-heavy folk-rock.
With the same kind of pumping bass drum rhythms that make Mumford & Sons so infectious, the Cave Singers rely heavily on the charisma and poetry of lead singer Pete Quirk. Derek Fudesco (formerly of Pretty Girls Make Graves) and Marty Lund amplify Quirk’s lyricism with undeniably tight instrumentation that verges on the raw appeal of the White Stripes.
They also appeared on the scene a few years before Mumford & Sons arrived on the U.S. market. The band almost immediately impressed indie rock audiences around the country with the way they bring folk elements to the craft. They’ve continued to release compelling, danceable, smart and fun albums one after the other. Besides, they put on a killer live show.
At the 2013 Americana Music Association Festival and Conference, United Kingdom-based folk-rock trio Bear’s Den showed up for a handful of sets. They proved to be the closest and finest thing to a Mumford invasion.
Their gruff, raw, powerful vocals laid over the top of simple and direct English folk-influenced instrumentation (plus those undeniable English accents) will certainly make hardcore Mumford fans feel right at home.
Don’t be mistaken, though. The band isn’t a knock-off of their countrymen any more than Mumford & Sons are a knockoff of earlier fusion troupes like the Pogues. They’re just another band coming from a shared and fruitful tradition of fast-and-hard folk-rock.