12 New Folk for 12.12.12
Larkin Grimm's Parplar released on Michael Gira's Young God label in late 2008 is a study in simple, contained strangeness. Guitar, strings, and backing vocals all spare and sparse like a cold wind blowing over an open field. I picked up Parplar when it came out and have been enjoying its strange fruit for years. Available from Bleep.com in FLAC format.
Merrill Garbus is tune-yards and Bird-Brains is her first album that was eventually released on 4AD in 2009 and its a very personal vision driven by repetitive loops of Garbus over Garbus (over Garbus). Ukulele (yes!) and percussion the entire affair sounds soberly manic. Some complain about the lo-fi bedroom production so you could opt for her 2nd 4AD release, W H O K I L L and both are available from Boomkat as FLAC downloads.
Mi And L'au Mi And L'au
Mi And L'au are a Finnish (Mi) and French (L'au) couple and this is their self-titled debut from 2006 also from Young God. Again we have a fairly simple recipe and sparse accompaniment over mostly acoustic goings on and quirky uncomfortably intimate lyrics all woven together like nursery rhymes for lovers. I dig it, you may too. Available from Bleep.com as a FLAC or WAV download.
Josephine Foster & the Supposed All The Leaves Are Gone
This is the debut album from Josephine Foster & the Supposed from way back in 2004 but you wouldn't be too far off if you listened and guessed 1964. This is folk with just enough freak to make it rewardingly familiar yet foreign. Lovely. Available from Boomkat.
Devendra Banhart Cripple Crow
Cripple Crow from 2005 is a whirlwind double-LP tour of lovely word-infused folk from one of the freakier, Devendra Banhart. I own this double LP and I've listened to it more times than I can count and it never fails to bring a smile to my face (and parts inside). Highly recommended in twelve ways! Get it from Boomkat in FLAC format.
Joanna Newsom Have One On Me
Have One On Me is Joanna Newsome's triple LP treat. If you don't know the harp-playing songbird that is Joanna Newsom, you want to. And you may as well begin with her latest opus from 2010. Available in FLAC download from Drag City.
Bonnie "Prince" Billy The Letting Go
Bonnie "Prince" Billy has released more music than my budget can follow but The Letting Go is an old (2006) favorite recorded in Reykjavík, Iceland. Featuring the Prince and Dawn McCarthy on backing vocals for some lovely forlorn stuff. Also available in FLAC download from Drag City.
Espers debut album is a study in new folk loveliness. Acoustic and dreamy and medieval and counts among the must-have records of this sort. Available in FLAC download from Boomkat.
Karen Dalton Green Rocky Road
OK I'm cheating by including Karen Dalton (born Karen J. Cariker; July 19, 1937 – March 19, 1993) but her influence on many of the new breed is as clear as her voice. These recordings were unearthed years after she passed and are as sweet, strong, and strange as everything she put to tape. Country, blues, folk all wrapped up in one in one uniquely individually voiced package. And she played a mean banjo and 12-string. Available in FLAC download from Boomkat.
Vetiver's debut from 2007 is another study in folk-revival and sounds like a huge group hug-of-a-record. Vetiver is Andy Cabic, violinist Jim Gaylord and cellist Alissa Anderson and they are joined by a veritable Who's Who of the movement including Devendra Banhart, My Bloody Valentine's Colm O'Ciosoig, Mazzy Star's Hope Sandoval, Joanna Newsom, Craig Koozer, and Nick Holdzkom. Available in FLAC download from Boomkat.
CocoRosie Grey Oceans
Bianca and Sierra Casady are (sisters) CocoRosie and Grey Oceans is their 4th record. While their sound is purposefully exotic mixing musical elements from around the globe with squeaky child-like vocals and risks going overboard on occasion, I find them personally fascinating and welcomingly strange. Available in FLAC download from Boomkat.
Michael Hurley Ancestral Swamp
If Karen Dalton can be considered one mother of the freak or new folk movement, Michael Hurley is certainly a dad. From his first record First Songs from 1964!, he's been making his own brand of art for decades. Ancestral Swamp from 2007 shows he's still got a lot to say in his own inimitable way. Available in FLAC download from Boomkat.