You may have read about Friends Who Folk, the comedy music duo of Rachel Wenitsky and Ned Riseley, back in 2017, when we featured their “Relatable Breakup Song” on a list of fantastic under-the-radar comedy videos.
Well, I’m pleased to report that they’ve been hard at work recently, releasing the mournful single “Amateur DJ” earlier this year, as well as a self-titled full length album earlier this month, which thoroughly rises to the occasion.
Flight of the Conchords (the inevitable point of comparison for any two person musical comedy act, which I imagine might get frustrating, sorry) may have billed themselves as a comedy-folk band early on, but that basically means they played acoustic guitars. Friends Who Folk actually nails the folk part of the equation, from Wenitsky and Riseley’s skilled harmonies to the lonesome slide guitar on “Minions.”
If you took many of these songs, scattered them around the Inside Llewyn Davis soundtrack, and played it for someone who didn’t speak English, they’d say “hey, this soundtrack is great.” The difference being that Llewyn Davis didn’t write songs about a woman with the lower body of a horse who knows her ex misses her because he’s dating another woman with the lower body of a horse. That was his mistake.
But they don’t box themselves in, either. Friends Who Folk contains other excellent pastiches that come when you least expect them, from “Sea Shanty,” which takes the idea of ‘the sea is my mistress’ to the Nth degree, or an a cappella jazz interlude about the Babadook you didn’t know you needed.
Moreover, if you live in New York, or know about New York or want to know about New York, Friends Who Folk had tapped into something essential about it that non-comedy music has a hard time effectively articulating. It’s the city where the duo is based and regularly performs as highlights of the booming alternative comedy scene, but it’s also a place where subway cars smell like shit and public parks are far from tranquil sanctuaries.
Don’t be the last person to get onboard with this album—it folks.
Graham Techler is a New York-based writer and comedian. You’d be doing him a real solid by following him on Twitter @grahamtechler or on Instagram @obvious_new_yorker. A real solid.