If you’re craving more bands like Bon Iver, then this list of similar artists will have something for you. Since forming in 2006, Bon Iver have released four studio albums. From the lofi indie folk of For Emma, Forever Ago (2008) to the sophisticated and experimental i, i, (2019) Bon Iver’s sound has massively evolved.
This list of similar artists to Bon Iver includes bands that evoke Bon Iver’s early indie folk, as well as their later, more experimental releases. The list also includes a number of projects that Justin Vernon and other Bon Iver band members feature on.
Big Red Machine
Big Red Machine is a side project of Justin Vernon and Aaron Dessner, featuring Vernon’s distinctive vocals and lyricism.
Dessner is best-known as one of the founding members of The National. He since worked with Taylor Swift on folklore, which, incidentally, and to the surprise of many Bon Iver fans, includes a Justin Vernon feature.
The soft, electronic indie sounds of Big Red Machine’s self-titled 2018 album blend electronic elements like vocoder with electric guitar and drums.
The project reflects Justin Vernon’s somewhat of a departure from the folkier sounds of For Emma towards a more experimental sonic pallette, blending diverse acoustic and electronic sounds.
The project is a guaranteed win for anyone looking for more bands like Bon Iver – you won’t get much more similar than this. Check out the spellbinding track ‘People Lullaby’ for a taste of Big Red Machine at their best.
Big Red Machine’s 2021 album How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last? is studded with features from related artists including Fleet Foxes, Sharon Van Etten, and Ilsey.
S Carey is the moniker of Sean Carey, drummer and backing singer in Bon Iver. From the release of his debut album All We Grow (2010), Carey’s solo project has gathered significant momentum. To date he has released three studio albums, and two EPs to dig into.
Carey’s gentle breathy vocals, emotive lyrics, and interesting work with textures and production has some real parallels with Bon Iver. The natural sounds of All We Grow, with ambient room sounds providing a lofi, organic atmosphere in particular evoke For Emma, Forever Ago.
That record is a great place to start for anyone looking for more music like Bon Iver’s earliest material.
Fleet Foxes are one of the most important bands of the 00s indie folk scene that also spawned early Bon Iver recordings. In the years since their debut, self-titled album in 2008, Fleet Foxes have very much remained in the indie folk space.
Their music combines elements of Americana and indie folk with big, warm reverb and layered vocals.
Iconic tracks including the beautiful ‘White Winter Hymnal’ and the earnest ‘Helplessness Blues’ are genuine songwriting works of art.
In many ways, their long-awaited 2021 album Shore is not much of a departure from their earlier records – perhaps a little washier in its texture.
But no one is complaining – more of the same from this legendary modern folk band is hugely welcome.
If you enjoy Bon Iver’s later production and songwriting, English producer and singer James Blake is a good place to look for similar sounds.
James Blake made his mark with the stunning 2013 album Overgrown. Showcasing lush electronic production skills with skillful and unusual songwriting, that record was the start of James Blake’s rise to international renown.
Blending epic synths and experimental production with expressive vocals, James Blake’s unique brand of electronica and songwriting will make him of particular interest to fans of Bon Iver’s self-titled 2011 record and later works.
The Tallest Man on Earth
Swedish singer songwriter The Tallest Man on Earth is an artist who will be of interest to fans of early Bon Iver.
The Tallest Man on Earth’s records centre around voice and acoustic guitar, calling to mind the alternative folk textures of Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago.
His unusual, nasal voice, rising and falling like a bird, is totally distinctive, and hugely expressive. Listen to ‘Love is All’ for a taste of his alt folk sounds.
It’s a little-known fact that Justin Vernon was actually creating music with Volcano Choir before he started Bon Iver.
Volcano Choir’s debut album Unmap (2009) dropped soon after For Emma to the delight of Bon Iver’s rapidly growing fan base. It was followed by the hotly anticipated Repave (2013), which was the band’s last studio album.
A collaboration with Collections of Colonies of Bee’s Jon Mueller and four other band members, Volcano Choir features Justin Vernon’s distinctive vocals, and plenty of other traces of Vernon’s influence.
You could be forgiven for mistaking some Volcano Choir tracks with early folkier, rockier Bon Iver songs. The perfect band to turn to if you’re looking for more music similar to Bon Iver.
There are few Bon Iver fans out there who don’t appreciate the legendary Radiohead.
Like Bon Iver, Radiohead tracked a course which has seen their sound drastically evolve from their earlier records, as they have matured and pushed boundaries.
Few bands compare to Bon Iver in terms of their ability to capture complex emotions through unexpected sonics and lyrics. Radiohead are one such band.
If you haven’t delved into Radiohead’s discography yet, try the iconic OK Computer (1997) for an introduction. I would also recommend the sophisticated and beautiful In Rainbows (2007) to all fans of Bon Iver.
Up to a point, Sufjan Stevens charted a similar course to Justin Vernon. Sufjan was a key player in the 00s indie folk scene, with albums like Seven Swans (2004) and Illinois (2005) amongst the great, enduring records of that era.
The ambitious Illinois is both emotionally rich and technically sophisticated, blending everything from whirling flute arrangements to the sort of pulsating synths you’d hear in minimalist compositions. All the while, it stays true to a folk foundation.
The experimental Age of Adz (2010) shows Sufjan at the heights of his musical sophistication. It builds on the depths of Illinois with heightened emotional intensity, and wild arrangements combining orchestra and electronics.
I recommend the spare and mournful Carrie & Lowell (2015) to fans of stripped-back acoustic indie folk. If you enjoyed early Bon Iver, you won’t go wrong with that record.
The Japanese House
The Japanese House is the project of London-based producer and singer Amber Bain.
Blending elements of electronica and dream pop, The Japanese House touches on some of those hard-to-find atmospheres you’ll hear in Bon Iver’s music.
Their 2019 album Good at Falling serves a great introduction, calling to mind the 80s-esque production on Bon Iver’s self-titled sophomore album, with big synth drums and vocal effects flying all over the place.
The synergies between The Japanese House and Bon Iver have clearly not escaped Justin Vernon, who appears on the song ‘Dionne’ of their 2020 EP, Chewing Cotton Wall.
Singer-songwriter Mathew Houck’s project Phosphorescent is often cited by those in search of music like Bon Iver. His music is best suited to fans of the folkier aspects of Bon Iver.
Phophorescent’s sound blends strong Americana and folk influences with elements of electronic production. His 2013 album Muchacho and the 2018 C’est La Vie certainly bear some similarities to earlier Bon Iver.
While Bon Iver’s music has branched out from it’s folk origins, Phosphorescent’s latest single ‘Homecoming’ represents a decided return to folkier roots.
Welsh multi-instrumentalist, singer, and producer Ali Lacey – better known as Novo Amor – will be right up the street of fans of early Bon Iver.
A heavy dose of indie pop blended with acoustic folk, you can expect reverb-laden slide guitars, breathy double-tracked falsetto vocals, and lyrics on the sentimental side. If you’re looking for another For Emma, your search could be over with Novo Amor’s 2017 Bathing Beach EP.
A little like For Emma, Lacey’s 2018 album Birthplace took influence from a breakup, and an evergreen-surrounded lake. The 2020 follow-up Cannot Be, Whatsoever, whose origins lie in a suburban house in Cardiff, nonetheless represents a cohesive development on his earlier material.
Novo Amor offers a lot that Bon Iver fans will enjoy. For me, if anything, it’s a little too close for comfort. Novo Amor’s music is fantastic, but his sound has so much in common with Bon Iver that it almost comes across as unoriginal. If you’re happy with that, then Novo Amor will be perfect for you.
Beirut is the project of Zach Condon, a band that blends elements of indie folk with balkan. 2022 saw the release of the band’s 7th studio album Artifacts.
Fans of Bon Iver should definitely start with Beirut’s critically-acclaimed debut album, the stunning 2006 Gulag Orkestar. A lofi masterpiece that was mostly recorded in Condon’s bedroom, the record’s melancholic and distinctive sound is delivered by means of by dense brass arrangements, rich vocal harmonies, and non-stop sizzling melodies.
Like For Emma Beirut’s Gulag Orkestar is one of the great, and truly original alternative indie records of the 00s.
Later records including the 2007 The Flying Club Cup right up to their latest album Artifacts are well worth a listen – but their debut record is not to be missed.
English singer-songwriter Laura Marling is an artist who rose with the 00s indie folk scene, along with the likes of Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, and others.
Her debut album Alas, I Cannot Swim (2008) is an angstily iconic record of that era, chock-a-block with compelling indie folk hooks.
Like Bon Iver, Laura Marling’s songwriting talent has only grown and matured since her breakthrough debut album.
Her 2020 album Song For Our Daughter features everything that was good about Alas, I Cannot Swim, but with a new level of finesse and depth.
Laura Marling has stayed true to more traditional folk instrumentation, so she’s recommended for fans of the singer-songwriter and folkier aspects of Bon Iver’s music.
This Post Has 3 Comments
Comparing Bon Iver to Novo Amor is like comparing cheap cat food to high quality sushi.
Haha! In my opinion, it sounds like Novo Amor tries to imitate Bon Iver possibly a little too much, and falls short.
Wowww. Just listened to Novo Amor. One of them is imitating the other – there’s no way that sound is original to both of them!