With Somerset's Farmfest celebrating ten years this summer (31 July to 1 August) with a headline slot from Lamb, the band's Lou Rhodes is leading the celebrations with a Playlist of farmyard sounds – i.e. one act from each of the event's ten years. "Doing a year by year playlist was an interesting exercise," she explains. "It seemed like either there'd be a glut of artists I loved releasing in one given year or a total dearth in another! I also struggled to find an appropriate genre title (always hate pinning music down to genres anyway) but settled for "Alt-folk". So anyway, here's the result."
Vetiver – Been So Long (2006) "Vetiver's eponymous 2004 album was pretty much my soundtrack to that year but didn't fit the dates of this playlist. Been So Long, though, from their album To Find Me Gone makes a great opener to this sequence. The shruti box drone and Andy Cabic's lovely laid-back vocal wraps you in a fuzzy, warm semi-psychedelic blanket and sets the tone nicely."
Mariée Sioux – Buried In Teeth (2007) "I stumbled upon Mariee Sioux's music on one of those internet magical mystery tours that, I think, began with Alela Diane. Also hailing from Nevada City, California, you can hear a definite thread connecting the two with a whole scene emanating from that part of the world and including Joanna Newsome amongst others. I love Sioux's pretty voice and, whatever the weird title of the song might mean, the twisted earth-woman she evokes."
Fleet Foxes – Mykonos (2008) "I remember The Fleet Foxes' emergence in 2008 with their EP, Sun Giant and the impact their wondrous harmonies made on me and many friends alike. There was literally no one that sounded like them and they've remained utterly unique since. This song is such a clarion call and sets my spine tingling still."
Grizzly Bear – Two Weeks (2009) "One of Warp's more analogue-sounding acts, Grizzly Bear have such a spacious quality to their sound aided, as I understand it, by their admirable collection of vintage reverbs. Taken from their album, Veckatimest which was apparently named after a tiny uninhibited island on Cape Cod, Two Weeks, with its lovely Beach Boys-esque vocal layers and Ed Droste's shimmery lead was an obvious choice as first single."
Lou Rhodes – One Good Thing (2010) "Outside of Lamb I write and record solo under my own name. This is the title track of my third studio album which cut back production to a bare minimum of guitar, vocals and occasional strings echoing the difficult space I'd been in after the sudden death of my sister. I find much of the album hard to listen to now but this track brings a much-needed optimistic note; a glimmer of light in dark times."
Bon Iver – Holocene (2011) "There's something about the guitar riff that opens this song that goes straight to my core. It's the kind of sonorous melody I could listen to all day. Then, with Justin Vernon's blissful falsetto speaking of human failure and redemption, the overall effect is nothing short of transcendent. ...At once I knew I was not magnificent...and I could see for miles and miles. That's Zen, right there."
Sharon Van Etten – Give Out (2012) "Sharon Van Etten's album Tramp was another soundtrack album in our house on pretty constant rotation in its year of release and beyond. Give Out, for me, showcases her slip-slidey, strong yet vulnerable voice. The lyrics evoke more than they tell (my favourite kind) and I'm left wondering about the compulsive/destructive nature of lines like 'you're the reason why I'll move to the city or why I'll need to leave'."
The National – I need My Girl (2013) Another to die for guitar hook upstaged only by Matt Berninger's caramel baritone. This song has everything musically and lyrically. I guess I'm a sucker for men making themselves vulnerable in their music and the chorus line "I need my girl" sung in that voice makes my heart glow."
Alt-J - Hunger Of The Pine (2014) "On first listen Alt-J's second album This is All Yours left me utterly floored. Tricky, as I was driving at the time. I struggled to imagine that they could match their debut album and, not only did they do so, they managed to find whole new realms in their utterly indecipherable style. I love music that defies me to make any sense of its origins and influences and Alt-J are a perfect example, Hunger Of The Pines the perfect calling card."
Sufjan Stevens – Death With Dignity (2015) "I waited impatiently for the release of Sufjan Stevens' album, Carrie And Lowell, at the tail-end of March this year. I've been playing it endlessly since and still struggle to find words to describe it. First of all it's a return to the more acoustic roots that made me fall in love with his music in the first place but, more than that, it is probably the most heart-rending and human album I thought possible, even for him. Death With Dignity is the opening track and sets the tone. Spirit of my silence I can hear you, but I'm afraid to be near you and I don't know where to begin. The human soul laid bare in all its beauty and ache."