2006 in North Carolina.
Sounds like: Improvisational folk musicians prone to frequent jazz, experimental and rock seizures.
For fans of: The Grateful Dead, Blitzen Trapper, Akron/Family, Bon Iver.
Latest release: Last year's Megafaun, the band's fourth LP, released through Portland label Hometapes.
Why you care: Because it's like listening to five bands in one. After brothers Brad and Phil Cook met Joe Westerlund at jazz camp in 1997, the three played together in various projects, including the group DeYarmond Edison with Justin Vernon (Bon Iver). The early collaborations meant the trio accumulated nearly 10 years of practice before Megafaun's conception, providing a comfortable and wide-ranging canvas to work with. Where far-flung eclecticism is a turnoff for some fans, Megafaun challenges the desire for consistency in a band's sound by exercising curiosity for many forms of music-making—and all of its material is solid enough to make believers out of genre snobs. Although last year's self-titled album boosted the acoustic roots and toned down the exploratory asymmetry of previous work, it still provided enough dissonant experimentation to spice up the steady stream of easy listening.