Radio: Herringbone & Heartache
October 3, 2012
When mention of the sophomore record from Mumford & Sons started circulating around the big, long table of the Rhapsody editorial meeting, we were at a loss. It was a bit like the ho. lee. sh*t moment in this Korean action movie, Tsunami, where everyone just kind of stands there dumbstruck, frozen with awe and fear, watching the monstrous wave approach. Everyone knew Babel was going to be very, very big. We didn't know exactly what to do with it.
But a moment's reflection helped us begin to place the au currant British folkies into a larger framework. Mumford & Sons aren't merely a flash-in-the-pan banjo-rocking novelty act; they represent the popular upswell of contemporary indie folk, a back-to-basics approach that seems to be defined by songwriters with an acoustic guitar and an urgent authenticity. Standing on the shoulders of musical giants like Richard Thompson, The Pogues and John Martyn, the band has reintroduced earnest, heart-on-sleeve songwriting and earthy sonic bombast to the mainstream. When we started to rattle off other contemporaries who are channeling similar inspirations -- The Avett Brothers, The Decemberists, The Lumineers -- suddenly hundreds of worthy tracks from across a spectrum of indie folk, singer-songwriter fare, Americana and roots music started to coalesce. This, my friends, is Herringbone & Heartache, Rhapsody's newest radio station, and for the time being, our new favorite.