Over the last few years one of the most isolated big cities in the United States has been keeping a steady pace of growth on many avenues, but perhaps none so distinctive than their growth musically. And maybe it is the opinion of this writer that is slightly biased due to the city I call home, but that excuse can only go so far. In short, the Treasure Valley is arguably one of the fastest growing locales when it comes to identifiable sound in the world of independent music.
From Ketchum to Caldwell, McCall to Kuna, the sound calling the Boise (and surrounding mountains) area home can only be referred to as Boisestomp. The stomping trio of Travis Ward, Alison Ward, and Mike Waite, under the established moniker Hillfolk Noir, have finalized Pop Songs for Elk.
Already a major player in Idaho, and Treefort alums several times over, Hillfolk Noir take bluesy stomp, mix it with psychedelic influence, and toss it on the bonfire with a heavy helping of folk. Now that may sound like a stretch, or some complex backwoods drug-induced trip that would make most cringe, but the end result of their latest twelve track release is a captivating romp into an experimental songwriting tapestry of brilliance.
Blazing their trail on the road of the likes of She & Him and Bright Eyes via Blue Rooms studio in Portland, Oregon, Pop Songs for Elk was laid down live on half-inch tape. Creating this vintage, organic recording paid off huge for Noir. The rustic quality of the recordings craft a sense of rummaging through an old dusty box, blowing off some dust, delicately placing it on the turntable and discovering a whole new world. Plus, with track titles like “North Idaho Zombie Rag” and “Sniffin Glue Blues” you can’t possibly go wrong.
Somewhere between the soul of Seeger and the whiskey soaked wood of a backroad bar Hillfolk Noir plucks a revival that slings the attitude of punk, adventure of a train riding traveler, and the swagger of a hard day’s work. Most impressively, they obtain a vintage style in a modern distinct sound that is utterly captivating. Probably best heard on vinyl, Pop Songs for Elk is a winner in the folk world.
Greg is a co-founder and regular contributor to Nanobot Rock. When not physically harming himself playing soccer, he is enjoying the music from the Boise area, the city he calls home.