I’ve been listening to a lot of anti-folk lately. Artists like Jeffrey Lewis, Kimya Dawson, Jason Voss, Kelly Caldwell, Langhorne Slim, and Patrick Elkins. My own explanation for what defines the “genre” is that it tends to sound like folk music performed by people who have only ever encountered folk music in an encyclopedia. The Wikipedia entry describes anti-folk as “combin[ing] the raw, abrasive, and frequently politically charged attitudes of the punk scene with the sounds of American folk tradition.” I like my description better. But whatever.
Lists of artists are notoriously fuzzy around the edges. Take antifolk.net‘s admittedly diverse catalog. Or antifolkonline.com‘s inclusion of the likes of Dan Emery and Dan Bern, both of whom create, in my opinion, far too catchy songs to be so classified. And note that both lists leave out the We’re Twins artists, likely because they’re rooted in the more-or-less unconnected-to-New-York Ann Arbor scene. And the inclusion, on the Wikipedia list, the such popular acts as Beck, Ani DiFranco, Nellie McKay, and King Missile. King Missile! They of “Detachable Penis” fame!