Music Monday – Mumford And Sons.


Let’s get one thing straight – Mumford And Sons are not folk.

No they bloody aren’t.

You want to hear folk? I suggest trying some local pubs, where people bring their instruments to have a traditional jam together at the end of a day scything the crops or cutting the furze. Some tossers who don’t shave and wear over-priced All Saints boots with generic Top Man t-shirts are NOT FOLK.

I mean fair enough, you are obviously going to be influenced by everything that came before you – how can you not be? And the annoyingly ubiquitous Mumfords may have small elements of folk in them, but this is folk:

Folk speaks of apple picking and the lambing season. What the hell does Marcus warble on about? I dare him to try to describe making cider in song lyrics. Actually not a bad idea.

And what’s the deal with the banjo? Surely the  banjo is a country instrument? Country? Folk? Kind of like the Allies and the Nazis? Idiots.

Now. It’s not that they make terrible music – on the contrary, it’s quite listenable to. Until you realise all the songs follow the same pattern, with Marcus Mumford singing about some bird who he should kept hold of, or how some moment of his life was just so epic and summed everything up to date, and then there’s that sort of gentle musical peak… And then everything comes crashing down around you and the band go WILD. Too wild in fact, I’m all for enthusiasm, but come on! Surely his Sons should be in a metal band with that head banging… I half expected the keyboard player to be bleeding from the forehead every time he resurfaced to a normal level. At least that would amuse me.

But what is it that makes them so damn likeable? I say likeable, I clearly am not that mad about them, but everyone else is. Annoyingly. “Oh Ellie, it’s folk, you’ll love it!” No it bloody isn’t. “Oh they’re just SO different to every other band around at the moment!” No. No they really aren’t. Sometimes I’d even take some of Tom’s weird noise music over more generic crap. The only difference les Mumfords have to other bands is that they use slightly more traditional instruments (I bet they even use the phrase “trad” too.) Within their repertoire lives…

Mandolin
Dobra
Banjo
Accordian
Double Bass.

Which, let’s face it, aren’t actually that exciting. They give a certain slant, or sound, to Mumford and his Sons, but if you want folk, why not try out…

Hurdy Gurdy (this is actually the name of an instrument)
Harpsichord (The Stranglers managed it, and they’re bordering punk)
Pipes… (of any form. I know they wouldn’t fit the Mumford music, but they are AWESOME)

Like I said, it’s not so much that their music is terrible, but why does everyone have to like them so much? Why are they everywhere? Why does everyone now think they’re listening to folk, without actually researching it for themselves? WHY do they have to be so mainstream? And when will the Mumford love bugger off?

(The above is a very good example of modern-day folk, using a traditional story of the turmoil between Catholics and Protestants in Ireland, and converting it into a ghost story a mother would tell her child. The Decemberists are amazing, so one can’t expect the same from Mumford and Sons, but give it an effort…)

Really, opinions please!

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Song Of The Day #15.


Caribou – Jamelia

Odd but brilliant music…

I have been played ‘Odessa’ from Caribou’s 2010 album ‘Swim’, and then downloaded said album for some research (he is soon to be viewed at the Berlin Festival, which is when? NEXT WEEK!), but never really listened to much more than the first track. My walk home from work today was a “I can’t be bothered to change the song” (on my musical playing device) walk, and so was presented to me ‘Jamelia’.

There’s a repetitive slightly haunting, main line of music that starts the music off, with odd blips of what I suppose would be deemed soundbites. They jar quite dramatically with the main line – pizzicato violin, synthesised instruments, a cacophony of pieces, even to the point of sounding like a classic out-of-tune ice cream van. The violins appear at various other points during the tune (it’s sort of hard to call this a ‘song’ for some reason), and the whole thing builds up to something of  noisy peak, trailing off quietly at the end.

But I like it! The vocals aren’t half bad either, though I can’t actually work out what’s being said. It is a very good piece of music, and you should listen to it: