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Sound Off!: American Folklore

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MP3: American Folklore – Arrows from Trapped in the Game (2010)

What I feel towards American Folklore is an unusual kind of fondness. It’s distinct from a critical or artistic penchant, but still very apparent. I don’t think I understand it quite yet. Granted, I do kind of like how the name “American Folklore” looks in print, how it rolls off the tongue–but that can’t be the whole of it. Maybe it’s because I so rarely hear decent music coming out of Westminster, a town whose coffee houses and thrift stores often serve as a necessary go-to evening spot away from my relatively sightless hometown. I mean, what with McDaniel College’s artsy influence weighing upon the town, it only seems natural that a few Westminster-based projects should surface sooner or later. Despite the facts, only a handful of meritable musicians from the area have been brought to my attention.

So sure, perhaps my keenness for Lucas Rambo’s (also from Human Host) American Folklore can be attributed to some sort of quasi-hometown pride–or maybe it’s just the music. With “Arrows” as evidence, I’ll point towards the latter.

It’s a slow moving, folky number; and I’m certain that at least a couple of you are going to turn your noses outward in favor of the now-classic “sounds too much like Animal Collective” critique. And you know what? Screw that noise. Animal Collective started releasing music ten long years ago, and the artistic community should surely be allowed to react to their influence by now. To refuse American Folklore’s sound on the basis of an Animal Collective likeness is akin to refuting the validity of the last decade’s garage rock revival because it sounds too much like Marquee Moon.


“Arrows” is almost entirely defined by Rambo’s drowsy croon. Its harmonies are watery and relaxed, but they still manage to come off boldfaced to an absurd extent. Rambo’s minimal lyricism shows a perfect compliment: “and if we knew/the things we’d do/if no one had/something to prove”. Lucas–you ain’t got nothing to prove here. American Folklore’s latest album, Trapped In The Game, is pending release out of the soon-to-be-renamed FirecrackerFirecracker Records. It’ll be worth checking out, don’t you think?