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Breaking Big: Get entranced by Big Thief's intimate brand of folk-rock

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Shervin Lainez

Who’s topping the charts, going viral, and ruling our earbuds? Every week, EW introduces the freshest music talent you have to hear now. Below, get to know Big Thief, one of indie-rock’s most promising young bands.

Listen If You Like: Angel Olsen, Sharon van Etten, the idea of Lucinda Williams fronting the Walkmen

The Backstory: Lead singer and guitarist Adrianne Lenker, 25, met fellow Big Thief singer-guitarist Buck Meek the day she moved to New York after graduating from the Boston’s eminent Berklee School of Music in 2012. “Adrianne and I met at a bodega the day she moved into town,” Meek tells EW. “We immediately started singing together with acoustic guitars in Prospect Park, on brownstone stoops in Bed-Stuy, roofs, eventually busking in the subway and Washington Square Park.” They released a series of recordings in 2014 under their own names before “serendipitously” encountering bassist Max Oleartchik — an old friend of Meek’s from summer camp — and forming Big Thief with him and drummer James Krivchenia.

Why They Rule: Meek describes Big Thief’s music as “the sound of holding a beating heart in your hands.” That’s an apt descriptor for their quietly intense folk-rock, which they tested on their 2016 debut Masterpiece and have perfected on their second album Capacity. “Our goal was to capture the sound as naturally and with as much integrity as possible,” Meek says of the sessions. “[We wanted to] use the least amount of post-production on the recording as we could. We wanted to make something that felt honest and vulnerable.” That musical approach also emphasized Lenker’s vivid lyricism. “Adrienne draws from her dreams and from her waking experience directly,” Meek says. “Everything that she writes is true within those realms.”

Next Up: Big Thief will tour heavily this summer in North America and Europe, introducing audiences of Conor Oberst, the Head and the Heart, Belle and Sebastian, and Wilco — all artists they’re set to open for — to their magnetic songs.

Hear Capacity standout “Mythological Beauty” above.