Technically Complicated Folk

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tzvibish
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Technically Complicated Folk

Postby tzvibish » Wed Dec 16, 2009 2:29 pm UTC

I'm a huge Sufjan Stevens fan. so anyone who knows his music, knows what I'm looking for. I love folk, but it bores me sometimes with the general lack of technical musical prowess. Now, I know that's kinda the point, but Sufjan has proved to me that you can play folk in odd-tastic time signatures with full orchestration, so I'm now looking for something else along the same line. I've been listening to a lot of Iron and Wine lately, and aside from some standouts, it all kinda starts sounding the same. Give me some folk in 7/8, with some decent chord extensions, and I will be a happy man.
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Smiling Hobo
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Re: Technically Complicated Folk

Postby Smiling Hobo » Thu Dec 17, 2009 3:47 am UTC

Akron/Family has some pretty interesting stuff that's worth checking out, though they're not always a "folky" band...

The Castanets have a Sufjan-esque feel, at times (That they're signed to Sufjan's record label is probably no coincidence...)

Nick Drake, Beirut, Fleet Foxes, DeVotchKa may all have certain traits reminiscent of Sufjan, too, but ultimately there's nobody else who really sounds a lot like him.
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Re: Technically Complicated Folk

Postby psychosomaticism » Thu Dec 17, 2009 5:51 am UTC

I just don't know that it's really folk anymore when it gets to this genre. I mean, I know that's what it's termed, but I think of folk as the old Bob Dylan and Neil Young stuff.

That being said, you might like Dan Mangan, Devendra Banhart, Grizzly Bear, Marissa Nadler, Neko Case (which is a bit indie-country-ish too), Neutral Milk Hotel, Phosphorescent, and Regina Spektor. They aren't perfect matches, but indie folk (the closest name I have for this genre) is pretty diverse.

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tzvibish
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Re: Technically Complicated Folk

Postby tzvibish » Thu Dec 17, 2009 4:55 pm UTC

Hmm, I'll check those out. I'm already a fan of fleet foxes, only because of how unique their sound is. It's hard-core religious mountain-land folk, celtic and pentatonic roots and all. Interesting, but not so compelling after a few listens.

Like I said, the more technocally complex, the better. It's why I can listen to Sufjan, Miles Davis, and Liquid Tension Experiment (aka the Dream Theater guys, but without the nerdy lyrics) back to back.
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Midnight
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Re: Technically Complicated Folk

Postby Midnight » Thu Dec 17, 2009 5:20 pm UTC

well, folk and technically complex rarely go hand in hand. I don't consider sufjan stevens THAT technically complex. I mean, yeah he writes songs without an obvious key signature (which music critics interpret as "Oh me yarm Oh he's writing in 1023/128 he's AN GENIUS!" but I feel that such writing is more organic than anything. Dream Theater is technically complex cause they just sit down and go "alirght this part is going to be pi over six and that part's gonna be 12 over 7, not because that's just how it happened, but because we WANT it to be like that"

and if you want the latter dream theater-y style, folk is not the way to go.


but I recommend Minus The Bear.
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Re: Technically Complicated Folk

Postby tzvibish » Thu Dec 17, 2009 8:18 pm UTC

Midnight wrote:well, folk and technically complex rarely go hand in hand. I don't consider sufjan stevens THAT technically complex. I mean, yeah he writes songs without an obvious key signature (which music critics interpret as "Oh me yarm Oh he's writing in 1023/128 he's AN GENIUS!" but I feel that such writing is more organic than anything. Dream Theater is technically complex cause they just sit down and go "alirght this part is going to be pi over six and that part's gonna be 12 over 7, not because that's just how it happened, but because we WANT it to be like that"

and if you want the latter dream theater-y style, folk is not the way to go.


but I recommend Minus The Bear.


Well, I hear what you're saying. But that's also kinda my point. I love the organic and natural feel of folk, in that it isn't a purely intellectual listening experience like jazz and prog-metal. However, anyone who knows some good blues players knows that you can still play organically and with feeling while putting some unique technical spins on things. I've heard it referred to as spice. When Portnoy (of DT) plays a drum solo with an alternating 5/8 - 7/8 abr pattern for like 3 minutes straight, it's cool as crap, makes you smile a bit, but is a completely different experience than a great folk song (like Boy with a Coin - Iron and Wine). However, Sufjan Stevens happens to be very good at mixing the two elements and still making his music completely organic. I'm looking for something like that.
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Re: Technically Complicated Folk

Postby kcr » Fri Dec 18, 2009 5:28 pm UTC

Try Josh Ritter. I don't know much (aka barely anything) about music theory, but to my untrained ear he's a bit more complex than your average folk music. My personal favorites of his include "The Temptation of Adam" (which is you're a science geek, you should love - lots of good puns), "Girl in the War," and "Thin Blue Flame", which is an epically long beautiful gorgeous song that makes me love music every time I listen. I'm not sure how I feel about this version, because while the violin is gorgeous, he's not really singing so much as sing-song talking. But in the album version, he legitimately sings.
So, yeah, he's a brilliant artist and I love his music. He's the first musician that I love that I got my dad to enjoy as well haha.

And if you like Josh Ritter, then you should try Jens Lekman.
I'm guessing you're already familiar with Wilco and The Decemberists, but they might fall under more complicated folk music too.

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Re: Technically Complicated Folk

Postby the_stabbage » Fri Dec 18, 2009 7:39 pm UTC

If you don't mind purely instrumental music, I highly recommend John Fahey and Leo Kottke. Both are very good guitar players, on that sort of "organic" level that seems to be the theme of this thread. They are very proficient at their instruments, but not in the boring "oh look I memorized a theory book" way like Dream Theater.

Bonus points to John Fahey for having started one of the first indie labels. And for having brought back into popularity a lot of long-forgotten blues players.

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Re: Technically Complicated Folk

Postby ChocloManx » Tue Dec 22, 2009 4:11 am UTC

Listen to the albums Trespass and Nursery Cryme by Genesis. Also The incredible string band's The hangman's beautiful daughter and Per un Amico by Premiata Forneria Marconi. The hangman's... is the most folky, Per un Amico is the most complex and the other two are somewhere in between.
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Re: Technically Complicated Folk

Postby NeilFann » Tue Dec 22, 2009 11:07 am UTC

Give me some folk in 7/8, with some decent chord extensions, and I will be a happy man.


Prob not cool to use this thread for gratuitous self promotion but here's one of mine:

http://www.methodmeetsmadness.co.uk/song.php?song=TooGood

seems relevant since it's folky and in 10/8 with a few coloured chords....

I'm with tzvibish - compound time does make for some very interesting music and can be naturally applied to any genre, especially folk. Want to hear more.

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Re: Technically Complicated Folk

Postby vanfreakinhalen » Tue Dec 29, 2009 3:27 am UTC

Does Rodrigo y Gabriela count as folk? Maybe.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-qgum7hFXk
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Re: Technically Complicated Folk

Postby Sprocket » Fri Dec 17, 2010 4:03 am UTC

tzvibish wrote:Hmm, I'll check those out. I'm already a fan of fleet foxes, only because of how unique their sound is. It's hard-core religious mountain-land folk, celtic and pentatonic roots and all. Interesting, but not so compelling after a few listens.

God the more I listened to Fleet Foxes the more I fell in love with them. They're quite technically complex, well ok maybe...they're damn good musicians anyway. Bad place to start your guitar tab escapades anyway ;-)
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