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Download the best from the  2009 Folks Festival Lineup.

Hold Time (Merge, 2009)
With a list of influences dating from Don McLean’s glory days, M.Ward runs below the mainstream radar but Hold Time may be the Portland-based indie fave’s most accessible album yet. His cover of Buddy Holly’s “Rave On” is at once dreamy and catchy—it feels like both a tribute to the long-dead rocker and a celebration of life. Filled with subtle hooks and just enough atmosphere, it’s an album that works its way into your daydreams.

Time (The Revelator)
(Acony, 2001)
Festival standby Welch has (unfortunately) not released an album since 2003, but it’s worth digging this classic out of the archives. Yeah, it’s moody and current hipsters may deride it as music for the NPR crowd, but it has lost none of its haunting power over time. Just listen to the nearly-15-minute slow-building epic “I Dream a Highway” on a long drive through empty stretches of the West.

American Pie
(Capitol, 2003 re-release)
Here’s a true classic. The title track with it’s clever allegorical history of rock and roll since the death of Buddy Holly is the tune everyone knows but “Vincent,” an ode to that most famous of artists who died too young, is a lesser-known gem too. The 2003 re-release of the 1971 hit album includes bonus tracks “Mother Nature” and “Aftermath.”

Hope for the Hopeless
(Dualtone, 2008)
Dennen, who looks more like16 than his 29 years, has become the rising star of the peacenik, Mother-Earth-inhaling crowd but his music has more raw appeal to it than that stereotype would make you think. The standout on his latest album is “Make You Go Crazy” a collaboration with Nigeria’s Femi Kuti (son of the legendary Fela Kuti) that musters up just enough catchy pop soul.

Three Rounds & A Sound
(Expunged, 2008)
As an environmentally conscious outdoor sports rag, we have to dig Blind Pilot, not just for their music but also for their commitment to touring by bicycle—well at least until their bikes were ripped off in the midst of a border-to-border West Coast tour. Will they be up on the Hall Ranch singletrack? We can’t tell you that but can assure you their album is a pleasing combination of indie sensibility and American melody.

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