Culture, Entertainment

Contextualizing The Folk Revival

15 Feb , 2013  

photo from http://www.flickr.com/photos/kapkap/8003576957/sizes/c/in/photostream/ acoustic instrumentation and train tours (Mumford & Sons, Old Crow Medicine Show, and Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros) is taking place in the same era as nebulous club music.

 

In the midst of ethereal, electronic DJ’s, monumental, mash-up moguls, synth-heavy minimalists, whomping dub-steppers, and general mechanical music mania, lies the blaring, catchy, and ubiquitous folk revival. While many people seem to write off this genre as a hipster-induced fad or quick influx of stuck-in-your-head ephemeral ballads, there are several major factors that make the sudden resurgence of folk significant.

 

1. Juxtaposition

It should not seem coincidental that earthy music focusing on acoustic instrumentation and train tours (Mumford & Sons, Old Crow Medicine Show, and Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros) is taking place in the same era as nebulous club music. Music is changing (obviously) as well as the way we listen to it. Hence, we find an intermingling of retrograde methods (Jack White recording on vinyl) and artists making music through technology. While walking into a party to find Woody Guthrie blaring out of an old Bang & Olufson Beogram may seem a bit over-the-top, it also provides a differing clarity and ingenuousness lost in all those Skrillex songs you illegally torrented.

 

2. Comfort & Simplicity

When the zombie apocalypse comes, when rolling blackouts obfuscate every electronic advice, when we are rendered permanently out of batteries and perpetually pooping in foxholes, banjos and harmonicas still work. Moreover, folk music is accessible to more pedestrian musicians and dabbling laymen. Jeremiah Fraites of The Lumineers expresses, “Anyone who can play an instrument can play a Lumineers song. I think there’s a certain cinematic aspect of our music that I really like.” (The Crimson White) This allows people to bring music into their homes, allowing the art of others to become personal. Not to say you couldn’t recreate Deadmau5 in your living room if you didn’t want to, but really, could you?

 

3. Lifestyle

One of the early skits in second season of Portlandia plays on the fact that the 1890’s can be found in Portland. Although this is a bit hyperbolic, folk lifestyle is being redeveloped as a means of dodging and surpassing the frustrations of corporate America. (Raar!) Many people are finding that they can do more and more things with their own two hands that produce superior results to massive productions. Folk music mirrors our return to past traditions.

 

4. It’s catchy as hell

I don’t think it can be more simply put.

 

So when the terminators come and we’re all eating canned green beans in someone’s dank basement, and your domineering friend decides all the batteries should be allocated for flashlights, you damn well better hope someone knows how to play a guitar or ukulele or something.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

I Can Play The Triangle, But Not Really

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