Mumford & Sons
Mumford is Marcus Mumford, and the Sons are Ben Lovett, Ted Dwane and Country Winston, and no, this is not a Dickens novel. It's a London-based band comprised of four friends with a love of things like bluegrass, folk, indie rock, frayed sweaters, pints in the afternoon, group vocals, house cats, too much coffee, gray days, antiques shops and anything else that sounds heartrending and uppity -- or at least that's the impression their debut album, Sigh No More, leaves you with. Formed in late 2007, the band made quick work of the U.K. club scene, traversing the country with its initial clutch of rickety, earnest tunes, peppering the landscape with singles and EPs. The Sons then entered the studio with Markus Dravs, producer of Bjork and Arcade Fire, and laid down the 12 tracks that make up Sign No More. Bubbling over with horns, mandolin, banjo, double bass and other instruments, the record is a fiery assortment of careening, melancholy tunes that evokes everyone from Frightened Rabbit to David Gray to Richard and Linda Thompson. Not surprisingly, the album roused critics and attracted new fans, and our sun-deprived heroes proceeded to tour the world in support of it.