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Neulore and their folk music evolution

Rory White

Despite their description as “Modern Folk Music,” don’t expect to see one microphone and two guys with guitars when Nashville’s Neulore takes the stage tonight at Rockwood Music Hall in NYC.

Oh, there will be a microphone, and the two masterminds behind the group, Adam Agin and Tyler Cook, know their way around a six string, but this is far from what you would normally expect from folk music.

“I think the reason why we chose that (Modern Folk Music) is in the sense that we value storytelling,” said Agin. “And that’s where we pull the folk from – valuing the story - and rather than the record being individual songs about all different things, it’s a very continuous story, like each song is a new chapter.”

And there is a cinematic feel to their work, with each song able to stand on its own, while still fitting as a piece of a bigger puzzle. It’s allowed them to build a substantial buzz over the last couple years, making anticipation for the release later this year of their debut full-length album, Animal Evolve, reach a fever pitch. And not just for listeners.

“The record’s been done for a long time,” said Agin with a chuckle. “We also have another record written in the back pocket whenever that day comes.”

That’s called beating the sophomore jinx before it even comes up on the radar, but after the release of the first single “Shadow of a Man,” it’s clear that life is about to change substantially for the duo once the rest of the album hits. And that’s just fine with them.

“As much as it’s about building a brand and the music, this is all very personal to us,” said Agin. “This is our blood and sweat, so we’re mentally preparing for it. I think a lot of people sell themselves short and almost feel like they can’t allow themselves to dream and achieve those huge goals. And we don’t limit ourselves with that. We have goals and we want to grow and we’re okay with it.”

“If you don’t take the time to grow at the right pace, that’s when people get in trouble,” adds Cook. “I feel like if it takes a little bit of time, then it’s probably a healthy thing.”

It has been a steady climb for the pair, first with the positive reception to their 2010 EP Apples & Eve, then with “Shadow of a Man” finding a place on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy. And while seeing their stories placed in a completely different one could be a cause for concern, to Agin, it’s just another example of the power and individuality of music.

“We’ve very thankful for those opportunities to have our songs in television shows, and the way to know that if it’s a good song is that it can affect people in different ways,” he said. “It may not affect you in the way we were intending it to, but it’s meeting you where you are as a person, and that’s what we’re striving to do. We’re not only singing to people who are brokenhearted or that aren’t full of joy, but to everybody. Wherever they are in their life, they can relate to this music.”

So where do the stories come from for Neulore?

“From the start, Adam’s been a really conceptual thinker when it comes to this,” Cook explains. “He’ll dream up a world that the record’s going to take place in, a place with all the things that he needs to build a structure for the record to live in. Then the fun part for me is trying to figure out how to bring what I do into that and make sense of it. And when we’re writing them versus what they end up sounding like on the record are two totally different things. We usually try and take the approach that the song needs to be able to stand up on its own with just an acoustic guitar or a piano, and then we move on from there with producing it.”

“The cinematic aspect is very important to us, so when we’re recording the song, we’re trying to imagine what scene it would be in and trying to fit the scene with the sound, so it’s cohesive,” said Agin. “Even the vocabulary we use is very intentional, and with our stage setup we pull these visuals to the language we use and to the aesthetic we bring. So it’s all very cohesive.”

Yeah, doesn’t sound like your typical folk act to me either, but that’s okay, because Neulore, like Mumford & Sons and other groups with folk influences, are bringing the genre into 2014, making it modern, just the way they described it. As for Animal Evolve, get ready, because it promises to be something to hear, both musically and thematically.

“I think what I would take away from it, listening to it not as someone who made it but as a listener, is a sense of humanity,” said Cook. “There’s definitely a feeling that to be human is to also be broken, but to be broken is one of the beautiful parts of being human. We’re all the same in that there’s not really any beauty without a lot of struggle behind it to get somewhere.”

Neulore plays Rockwood Music Hall in New York City tonight, May 6. For tickets, click here

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