5 Folk-Rock 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,


Looking for some new music to add to your collection? Check out these five great folk-rock bands that are sure to become some of your favorites!

The Decemberists

The Decemberists are an American indie rock band from Portland, Oregon. The band consists of Colin Meloy (lead vocals, guitar, primary songwriter), Chris Funk (guitar, multi-instrumentalist), Jenny Conlee (piano, Hammond organ, accordion, melodica, backing vocals), Nate Query (bass guitar, backing vocals), and John Moen (drums, percussion, backing vocals).

Since forming in 2000, the band has released seven studio albums – Castaways and Cutouts (2002), Her Majesty the Decemberists (2003), Picaresque (2005), The Crane Wife (2006), The Hazards of Love (2009), What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World (2015) – which have sold more than three million copies worldwide. Their eighth studio album I’ll Be Your Girl was released on March 16, 2018.

The group has received twelve Grammy Award nominations – winning one for Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package for The King Is Dead in 2012 – and fifteen Indie Folk Album of the Year awards. They have also been nominated for three Brit Awards and two Emmy Awards.

Fleet Foxes

Fleet Foxes are an American indie folk band formed in Seattle, Washington in 2006. The band came to prominence in 2008 with their self-titled debut album, which featured the hit single “White Winter Hymnal.” The follow-up album, 2011’s Helplessness Blues, was also a critical and commercial success, reaching #4 on the Billboard 200 chart. The band’s third album, Crack-Up, was released in 2017 to further acclaim.

Fleet Foxes are known for their lush, harmonically-rich sound, inspired by early 20th century music, particularly by English composers Ralph Vaughan Williams and Gustav Holst. The band’s musical style has also been described as “baroque pop.”

The Tallest Man on Earth

The Tallest Man on Earth is the stage name of Kristian Matsson, a Swedish singer-songwriter who has been compared to vainoble songwriters like Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. With only his voice and an acoustic guitar, Matsson’s songs are stripped down to their emotional core. If you’re a fan of raw and honest folk music, The Tallest Man on Earth is an artist you need to know.

Mumford and Sons

Mumford and Sons is a folk rock band that formed in London in 2007. The band consists of lead vocalist and guitarist Marcus Mumford, banjoist Winston Marshall, keyboardist Ben Lovett, and bassist Ted Dwane. Mumford and Sons has released three studio albums: Sigh No More (2009), Babel (2012), and Wilder Mind (2015). The band’s fourth album, Delta, is set to be released on November 16, 2018.

Mumford and Sons’ music is characteristically upbeat with a positive message, despite the often dark lyrical content. The band’s sound has been described as “a mix of folk-rock with a heavy dose of traditional instrumentation.” Mumford and Sons has been nominated for several Grammy Awards and won the Grammy for Album of the Year in 2013 for Babel.

Bon Iver

Eau Claire, Wisconsin-based Bon Iver is the musical project of singer-songwriter Justin Vernon.

After self-releasing his debut album For Emma, Forever Ago in 2007 (recorded after he spent three months isolated in a WI cabin), Bon Iver’s popularity steadily grew. The album was eventually picked up by Jagjaguwar Records and reissued in 2008.

Bon Iver’s follow up album, Bon Iver, Bon Iver, was released in 2011 to much critical acclaim. The album debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 chart, and won Best Alternative Album at the 2012 Grammy Awards.

Bon Iver has toured with indie folk darlings such as Feist, The National, and Arcade Fire.

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