10 Folk Music Bands You Need to Know

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Discover ten traditional and contemporary folk music bands from around the world that are guaranteed to get your feet tapping.

The Avett Brothers

1.The Avett Brothers are an American folk rock band from Concord, North Carolina. The band is made up of two brothers, Scott Avett and Seth Avett, who are both singer-songwriters and multi-instrumentalists. The Avett Brothers first gained national attention with their major label debut album, I and Love and You, which was released in 2009. The album peaked at #16 on the Billboard 200 chart and #3 on the US Folk chart. The band has released a total of eight studio albums, four live albums, and two EPs. Their most recent album, True Sadness, was released in 2016 and peaked at #3 on the Billboard 200 chart.

2.The Lumineers are an American folk rock band from Denver, Colorado. The band is made up of singer-songwriter Wesley Schultz and multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Fraites. The Lumineers first gained national attention with their self-titled debut album, which was released in 2012. The album peaked at #2 on the Billboard 200 chart and #1 on the US Folk chart. The band has released a total of two studio albums, one live album, and three EPs. Their most recent album, Cleopatra, was released in 2016 and peaked at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart.

3.Arcade Fire is a Canadian indie rock band from Montreal, Quebec consisting of husband and wife duo Win Butler and Régine Chassagne along with multi-instrumentalists Will Butler, Richard Reed Parry, Tim Kingsbury ,and Jeremy Gara . The band first gained mainstream attention with their second studio album Neon Bible in 2007 which entered the UK Top 40 charts peaking at number 2 as well as topping NME’s end of year poll for 2007. Arcade Fire has won multiple Grammy Awards including Album of the Year for their 3rd studio album The Suburbs in 2011 as well as Best Alternative Music Album for their 4th studio album Reflektor in 2014 .
4ampire Weekend is an American indie rock band from New York City , New York consisting of lead vocalist Ezra Koenig , bassist Chris Baio , drummer Christopher Tomson ,and keyboardist/percussionist Rostam Batmanglij .The group released its highly acclaimed debut LP Vampire Weekend in 2008 which entered the UK Top 40 charts peaking at number 15 as well as earning them a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album . Since then they have gone on to release 2 more LP’s 2010’s Contra which peaked at number 1 on Billboard 200 as well as 2013’s Modern Vampires of the City which also earned them a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album making them the only group to ever win this award twice .

The Head and the Heart

The Head and the Heart is an American indie folk band. The group’s self-titled debut album was released in 2011. The album was a commercial success, reaching number 10 on the Billboard 200 chart. The group’s second album, “Let’s Be Still”, was released in 2013. The album peaked at number 5 on the Billboard 200 chart. The group’s third album, “Signs of Light”, was released in 2016. It debuted at number 4 on the Billboard 200 chart.

The Lumineers

The Lumineers are an American folk rock band from Denver, Colorado. The founding members are Wesley Schultz on guitar and vocals, and Jeremiah Fraites on drums, percussion, and vocals. The Lumineers formed in 2002, and Fraites’ brother Josh Fraser joined the band as bassist in 2009. Jay Van Dyke joined the band as cellist in 2012. telling stories through their music.

The Lumineers’ self-titled debut album was released on April 3, 2012 and has been certified triple platinum in the US. Their follow up album, Cleopatra was released on April 8, 2016. The Lumineers have been nominated for two Grammy Awards including Best Americana Album and Best American Roots Performance.

Of Monsters and Men

Of Monsters and Men is a five-piece indie folk band which formed in 2010 in Reykjavík, Iceland. The band members are lead singer and guitarist Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir, singer-guitarist Ragnar “Raggi” þórhallsson, guitarist Brynjar Leifsson, drummer Arnar Rósenkranz Hilmarsson and bassist Kristján Páll Kristjánsson. Of Monsters and Men rose to fame in 2011 with the release of their debut album My Head Is an Animal, which reached the number one position in Australia, Iceland, Ireland and the United States and number six in the United Kingdom. The album has been certified quadruple-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

The band’s second album, Beneath the Skin, was released in 2015 and reached number one in Iceland as well as number three on both the US Billboard 200 chart and the UK Albums Chart. It was also nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album. The band’s third album Fever Dream was released in 2019.

Of Monsters and Men have been described as indie pop, indie rock and folk rock. They have cited Arcade Fire, Fleet Foxes, Mama Cass Elliot and Talking Heads as influences.

Mumford & Sons

Mumford & Sons is a 4-piece alternative/indie folk band which formed in December 2007. The band consists of Marcus Mumford (vocals, guitar, drums), Winston Marshall (banjo, dobro), Ben Lovett (piano, keyboards, vocals), and Ted Dwane (bass guitar, double bass, vocals). The name originates from the fact that Marcus Mumford is the son of producer and fellow musician John Mumford.

The quartet’s early work was met with generally positive reviews and acclaim from music critics. In 2009, they signed to Island Records and released their debut album Sigh No More. The album entered the UK Albums Chart at #4 and peaked at #2 in Canada, Ireland and New Zealand. In 2012, the band released their second album Babel which debuted at #1 in the UK, US, Canada and several other countries. The album received widespread acclaim from music critics and won several awards including the Grammy Award for Album of the Year.

The band has toured extensively since their formation, performing live at a wide variety of venues including festivals such as Glastonbury Festival, Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and Bonnaroo Music Festival. They have also performed on several late-night talk shows such as The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Saturday Night Live.

The Decemberists

Formed in Portland, Oregon, in 2001, the Decemberists released their debut album “Castaways and Cutouts” in 2002. The band is known for its unusual lyrics, which often focus on historical events or literary references. The Decemberists have released six studio albums, with their most recent, “What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World”, coming out in 2015.

Iron & Wine

Iron & Wine is an American musical project led by singer-songwriter Sam Beam, who writes and performs as “Iron & Wine”. Beam was raised in South Carolina. He began writing songs as a teenager and started playing guitar at the age of 21. He received his first guitar after his father traded a friend’s lawn mower for it. After graduating from Florida State University with a degree in English, he moved to Charlottesville, Virginia, to pursue a Masters degree in fiction writing at the University of Virginia.

While attending graduate school, he began playing open mic nights at the Unicorn Cafe in Charlottesville and quickly gained a following. He released his first album, The Creek Drank the Cradle in 2002 to much acclaim. Since then he has released four more albums, each to increasing success. His most recent album, Beast Epic was released in August of 2017.

Iron & Wine’s music is often characterized as folk or indie folk and is frequently compared to that of Bon Iver, Nick Drake, and Simon & Garfunkel.

Fleet Foxes

Formed in 2006 in Seattle, Washington, Fleet Foxes are indie folk trio made up of Robin Pecknold on lead vocals and guitar, Skyler Skjelset on guitar, mandolin and violin and Morgan Henderson on bass, dulcimer, banjo, keyboard and flute. The band is known for their gorgeous vocal harmonies, which are often compared to the Beach Boys or Simon & Garfunkel. Fleet Foxes’ debut album was released in 2008 to critical acclaim, and the band has since toured extensively throughout the US, Europe and Asia. In 2017, they released their long-awaited third album, Crack-Up.

The Tallest Man on Earth

The Tallest Man on Earth is the stage name of Kristian Matsson, a Swedish singer-songwriter who has released four albums and one EP. Matsson grew up in Dalarna, Sweden and began his musical career playing open mic nights in coffeehouses and bars. He self-released his debut album, Shallow Grave, in 2006 and followed it with The Wild Hunt in 2010. Both albums were met with critical acclaim, with The Wild Hunt named one of the best albums of 2010 by Spin magazine. Matsson’s third album, There’s No Leaving Now, was released in 2012 to more positive reviews, with many critics calling it his best album to date. His fourth album, Dark Bird Is Home, was released in 2015.

Bon Iver

Bon Iver is an American folk band founded in 2006 by singer-songwriter Justin Vernon. The name “Bon Iver” is a play on the French phrase bon hiver, meaning “good winter.” Vernon founded the band after spending three months in a cabin in northwestern Wisconsin, where he focused on songwriting and recording. The album was nominated for five Grammy Awards, winning Best Alternative Music Album.

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