Canadian singer-songwriter Dan Mangan infuses folk-rock with blooming, layered orchestration on Oh, Fortune — his first proper album on Arts & Crafts and the follow-up to his 2009 Polaris Prize-nominated Nice, Nice, Very Nice. His songs swell to become full-bodied, sweeping moments of textured arrangements and hearty vocals that are tinged with a roughness, sadness and even guttural power.
Denmark-based Icelander Snaevar Njáll Albertsson, the multi-instrumentalist mastermind behind Dad Rocks!, creates beautiful music that wavers between sparse, introspective folk and intricate, sonic bursts of orchestra rock. The straightforward guitar work is playful and the weaving arrangements are richly-textured — seemingly perfect for his songs, whose stories often reveal perspectives from both the naive, innocent child and the wise, serious parent. Similarly, his voice is tinged with a vulnerable tenderness, despite its deep and gravelly quality.
Harrison Cosmo Krikoryan Jarvis, also known as Cosmo Jarvis, is a singer-songwriter whose musical breadth spans a number of sounds (folk, bluegrass, indie rock) and moods (dark, humorous, witty) with each and every song. Although the New Jersey-born, UK-bred artist delves into various genres, his emotive storytelling is what’s central to his music, keeping his releases — like the debut full-length Humasyouhitch/Sonofabitch, which earned him spots on both BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 2 — diverse, yet still cohesive.
Brooklyn’s Bel Air is a sometimes-folky, alt-country rock band featuring sweet, harmonic vocals, smooth guitars, and a knack for writing catchy tunes. Here, they play “Wash Away” at a vintage hat shop in Dumbo called Cha Cha’s House Of Ill Repute.
London-based Alessi Laurent-Marke performs her tender and charming folk-pop under the moniker Alessi’s Ark. Her music is innocent and quaint, but also vulnerable and intimate — qualities similar to artists like Laura Marling and Mumford & Sons, two acts that she’s shared the stage with many times. Though she’s only 21, she’s already recorded her debut album with producer Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes, Rilo Kiley), released a handful of EPs on major label Virgin Records, and crafted a sophisticated, impassioned sound that seems well beyond her years.
Originally starting as the bedroom project of singer-songwriter Henry Jamison, The Milkman’s Union has since evolved into a folk-rock trio heavily influenced by jazz and classical music, and channeling everyone from Iron & Wine to Radiohead. Based out of Portland, ME, the band weaves together complex arrangements, filled with melodies that twist and turn unexpectedly and rhythms that start and stop suddenly. Jamison leads the pack with impressive guitar-picking and his ability to use his rich, expressive voice to turn sullen stories into engaging ear-candy, mellow ballads into howling rock.