74: The Hipster Music Digest, episode 14, featuring the Dharohar Project

“It’s lovely to be away, but trips like this are good because you get to see just how unknown you are- there are not that many people who care who you are, or what you are doing. It’s good.” -Ben Lovett, of Mumford & Sons

“We love them, they are all so outgoing… which is nice, because we’re all so pathetically english and reserved. They told us, ‘Come to Rajistan, you meet all the musicians, and play with whoever you like’… That’s what good about music, is that you can make anyone feel a part, even if it’s only for a song.” -Laura Marling

In late 2009, British folk artists Mumford & Sons and Laura Marling were sponsored to take part in multi-cultural music collaboration known as the Dharohar Project. The quartet and Ms. Marling spent a week in Rajistan, India, banging together a five song EP and staging multiple live performances with the aid of only two interpreters. As little experience as these young Brits could lay claim to at the time, and with such a limited time, this sounds rather like a recipe for a musical train wreck- not to mention the lack of traditional recording equipment, However, the results are absolutely stunning- courtesy of youtube, we encourage you to take a listen:

This is the studio version of the entire EP:

But the live versions are GOLD:

“Devil’s Spoke” Banjos and turbans. Believe it.

“To Darkness” and  (from 2:43 onward) “Kripa”

The fourth track (‘Amnol Rishtey’) is completely in Indian- but remains undeniably catchy, and charming:

The last track is every bit as great as those preceeding. Laura Marling returns for lead vocal, and the great amount of banjo is icing on the cake:

“People call us folk musicians,” Marling observes, “but these people are the real thing. These songs, and instruments, they learned all this from their parents, and theirs. We are very inexperienced, in comparison.”

You can claim that you didn’t smile once through the entire viewing, but I already know that you did.

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74: The Hipster Music Digest, episode 12, featuring Punch Brothers

Newgrass! Progressive-minded, multi-instrumental outfits. Basically ‘New Bluegrass’, got it?

Good. 

 Chris Thile began his career in 1994 at age twelve, releasing a surprisingly sturdy bluegrass album that consisted solely of unassisted mandolin interpretations of classic ballads, and has mushroomed into one of the world’s premier mandolin players, accompanying the likes of Doc Watson in live performances. He has led several outfits through his career, (including Nickel Creek), but most recently (and, in our opinion, the best of his endeavors) The Punch Brothers.

   The group formed, roughly, in 2006, and keeps about five members- the most recognizable of which are banjo man Noam Pikelny and fiddle expert Gabe Witcher (who I think has the most amazing name ever. I mean really.)  

The members knew each other proffesionally, as friends of friends within the same genre. The fateful evening came in 2006, when they sat down to jam off the cuff- they knew immediately that they had the right members, but the diverse crowd had a bit of a conundrum with genres: Thile explains that, “I knew I wanted to have a band with Gabe [Witcher]…they knew I wanted to put together a bluegrass band- one with a lot of range- but aesthetically, a bluegrass band.”

And so it began:

‘Dark days’ even made it to the soundtrack of the Hunger Games:

No concern of yours

Paperback writer

74: The Hipster Music Digest, episode 11, featuring Alela Diane

Alela Diane, – folk, new-folk, psychedelic-folk, what have you. Soft, waning vocals (just as suited to wordy, mournful, James Taylor-esque tunes as old English ballads), and skillful instrumental work contribute to her unique sound. Unsurprisingly, she currently lives in Portland. She will be releasing her fourth full-length studio album this year.

Age old blue

White as diamonds

Take us back

Matty Groves, with Alina Hardin. This song has an incredibly interesting history; read more here.

74: The Hipster Music Digest, episode 9, featuring Lincoln Durham

We this week present to you a rather obscure artist, but one we think has much potential. Hailing from the south (as his name most certainly bears witness), Lincoln Durham is covering new ground in what we can only dub as country blues alternative inspired newgrass folk…. Yeah, we got nothing. What do you think?

Clementine

reckoning lament (song begins forty-seven seconds in)

Last Red Dawn

I also recommend “Mud Puddles”. Sadly, I was unable to find a good recording (live or otherwise) on ye olde youtube.

We’d like your opinion- what genre is Lincoln Durham? And we also need a verdict on the bowler hat. We are tempted to think it quite boss, but would enjoy external, unbiased input. Cheers.

74: The Hipster Music Digest, episode 8, featuring the Fleet Foxes

Irridescent. Layers of transcendant musical love, steeped in espresso. Imported from Seattle, may I present the Fleet Foxes.

Enjoy.  

White Winter hymnal

Battery kynzie

Mykonos

On the last track I bring to your ears, the haze of studio produced affects drops away sufficiently that we may appreciate solid, picturesque vocal and instrumental work. Plus, “Oliver James” is a boss name:

We think of the Fleet Foxes as half-way between Bon Iver and Neil Young. Do you concur?

74: The Hipster Music Digest, episode 7, featuring a collaboration on “The Water”

You may have previously come upon the knowledge that the London-based folksters Johnny Flynn, Laura Marling, Noah and the Whale, and Mumford & Sons are all very well acquainted. (it should be noted, that curiously enough, they collectively abhor being called the founding fathers of a new-born folk “scene”. Hipsters.) But back on topic.

As with most well acquainted music enthusiasts, collaborations abound.

Thus, we thought it fit to get your opinion on a much debated issue: A few years hence, Johnny Flynn released a song called “The Water” on his album, ‘Been Listening’.

The song features the ghostly beauty of Laura Marling’s harmonies, setting the song off quite well. MadaLin prefers the Marling-Flynn collab. (She says the mixed vocals are the ticket.)

But wait! A collaboration was done by Mumford and Sons’ frontman Marcus Mumford that I (Nicole) find to be ever-so-slightly superior.  (Perhaps due to Mr. Mumford’s mandolin abilities?)

So what do you think, dear reader?

Additionally:

We give you a truce- Here Laura Marling collaborates with Mumford & Sons to bring you a totally boss cover of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”. I personally think that Winston OWNS the steel guitar with the best of them:

And last but not least, may I present to you what may possibly be the most awesome thing ever to be captured on film:

74: The Hipster Music Digest, episode 6, featuring Johnny Flynn

We bring to your attention this week a young folkster by name of Johnny Flynn. Actor, poet, singer songwriter. Had he lived in the time of the Tudors, I must believe that he would have been an itinerant bard…like a pied piper, but without all the death. He is an old soul, with a young face. Like the Doctor. Fiddler, guitarist, banjo player. Complete rennaissance man. Genius, as well? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

“Barnacled Warship”

“Tickle me pink”, featuring his sister on guest vocals.

“Brown Trout Blues” (I almost neglected to mention that he was British. Though I suppose the fact that he played a gig in muddy “wellies” made that rather obvious?)

BONUS: Eyeless in Holloway (the first to name the familiar face playing back-up guitar gets a piece of candy! Additionally, I apologize for the poor quality. What would we do without bootlegs, though?)

TUNE IN NEXT WEEK FOR A SPECIAL COLLABORATION POST FEATURING OUR THREE MOST RECENTLY FEATURED ARTISTS!