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A Guide to Indie Music: Indie-Folk

The term "indie folk" was coined in the 1990s to describe musicians from indie rock scenes influenced by folk music. Indie folk hybridizes the acoustic guitar melodies of traditional folk music with contemporary instrumentation. Some artists from several decades ago, such as Nick Drake, could retroactively fall within this genre. List is 7 essential indie-folk albums that in some way or another helped shape the genre. All descriptions credited to Wikipedia.
1The Tallest Man on Earth
The Wild Hunt


The Wild Hunt is the second album of the Swedish folk artist The Tallest Man on Earth, released April 13, 2010. Critical reception has been decidedly positive, with a current Metacritic score of 79 from 26 critics and Pitchfork Media rating it 8.5 out of 10. It was also voted the top album of 2010 by the staff of Sputnikmusic. Pitchfork Media placed it at number 33 on its list "The Top 50 Albums of 2010".
2Elliott Smith
Elliott Smith


While not believed to have been reviewed by many, if any, critics at the time of its release, Elliott Smith has been critically well-received retrospectively. The album is of a similar musical style to Roman Candle in its minimalist, acoustic folk sound. Smith mostly appears alone on his acoustic guitar, although he is occasionally backed up by the odd musical instrument, such as a harmonica and drums. The album's lyrics contain many references to drug use, which Smith claimed was metaphorical.
3Paul Simon
Graceland


Recorded in 1985 and 1986, Graceland features an eclectic mixture of musical styles, including pop, rock, a cappella, zydeco, isicathamiya, and mbaqanga. Simon created new compositions inspired by the recordings made in Johannesburg, collaborating with both African and American artists. Graceland was a major commercial hit, becoming Simon's most successful studio album. Graceland has frequently been called one of the best albums of the 1980s, and is present on lists of greatest albums created by numerous publications. It was added to the National Recording Registry in 2007, having been judged to meet the registry's admission criterion of being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically important."
4Fleet Foxes
Helplessness Blues


Helplessness Blues is the second studio album by Seattle, Washington–based folk band Fleet Foxes. Released on May 3, 2011 as the follow-up to their self-titled debut album, Helplessness Blues received universal acclaim from critics and was nominated for Best Folk Album for the 54th Grammy Awards. The release peaked at number 4 on the Billboard 200, the band's highest position on the chart to date.
5Nick Drake
Pink Moon


Initially, Pink Moon garnered a small amount of critical attention. In the 2000s, Pink Moon was critically lauded, making it to the Melody Maker "All Time Top 100 Albums" as number 48. In 2003, the album was ranked number 320 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
6Sufjan Stevens
Carrie and Lowell


Carrie & Lowell is the seventh studio album by American musician Sufjan Stevens, released through Asthmatic Kitty on March 31, 2015. Unlike Stevens's previous studio album, the electronic The Age of Adz, Carrie & Lowell is sparsely instrumental and marks a return to the performer's indie folk roots. The album was released to high critical acclaim, with many critics calling it Stevens' best. Carrie & Lowell was widely deemed one of the best albums of 2015. The album title comes from Stevens' personal life, taking the names from his mother Carrie and her second husband Lowell Brams.
7Bon Iver
For Emma, Forever Ago


The album was recorded at Vernon's father's remote hunting cabin over late 2006 to early 2007. He abandoned his old songwriting methods and instead focused on wordless melodies that he later set to words, which he felt evoked a more subconscious meaning. The record's lyrical subjects include lost love and mediocrity. His folk-infused songs include heavy choral arrangements, featuring Vernon's falsetto, and horns. He hunted his own food and spent much of his time isolated. Though he did not intend to make an album, he received strong encouragements from friends and decided to self-release For Emma, Forever Ago in July 2007. For Emma, Forever Ago received widespread acclaim from critics.
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