Go Folk YourselfI hope you've been enjoying these excursions into the darker side of folk music. I always keep at least one of this type of record on the front burner, and I think there's a good chance you'll like them, too. Either way, let me know what non-metal style really gets you going.
Munly & the Lupercalians: Petr and the Wulf (2010)
Along with 16 Horsepower, Jay Munly is considered one of the most important figures in establishing the "Denver sound" of alt-country/neofolk. And in many superficial ways, it's quite similar, but Munly & the Lupercalians sounds more like the Century Media to 16 Horsepower's Profound Lore, if you get my meaning. Which is not to say that it's bad. It's not as dark, or as honest, but it still has many redeeming qualities, not the least of which is the hook on opener "Scarewulf" or the Tom Waits-esque spoken word of closer "Wulf." Apparently this is the first in a planned series of connected concept albums centering around a folk story, so it also has some concept album baggage (like a handful of sucky songs). I give it 3 out of 5 stars, but there is enough positive here to make me want to check out some of Munly's earlier, non-Lupercalians work.
Buy Petr & the Wulf
Wovenhand: Ten Stones: (2008)
I've mentioned them before, but I swear I love Wovenhand more with each album I listen to. Ten Stones has a fuller, more energetic sound than some of their prior material, incorporating more distorted electric guitar, more badass drums, more memorable basslines, more songs at high tempos, and simply more of everything. But despite this higher energy, it doesn't lose the darkness of the prior albums. The result here could be the soundtrack to a post-Apocalyptic western with a tortured protagonist. The only thing that doesn't fit is "Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars," a sort of Wayne Newton-does-drone-metal experiment; it's not that it's bad, but perhaps it would have been better on an EP or as a bonus track. Other than that weird tangent, this record is flawless. I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Buy Ten Stones
The Angels of Light: New Mother (1999)
The Angels of Light is the folk/country band started by the Swans' Michael Gira after the post-punk legends disbanded. It's extremely similar to the Denver sound bands mentioned above, and has a few catchy song, but this record has some serious sticking points for me. One, the vocals. I'm not familiar with the Swans' output, but here Gira's mostly-monotone, nasal voice is irritating. Not at first, necessarily, but by track five certainly. That problem is compounded by the fact this record just drags on forever. I could not get through this in one sitting, and didn't get through it a second time. I give it 1 out of 5 stars.
Buy New Mother