The banjo is typically reserved for folksy country songs, but the instrument can be pretty versatile (even if it still totally sounds like it should be on a folk song).
These 11 bands channeled their inner folky-ness, and churned out these bouncy banjo tunes.
1. “Do You Know What I’m Seeing?” by Panic! At The Disco
It seems like pretty much every song on Panic’s Pretty. Odd. features a different instrument, and this one has subtle banjo strums in the background.
2. “Satin In A Coffin” by Modest Mouse
This song feels particularly rustic, partially because of the romp-stomping rhythm, but also because of the softened banjo riffs.
3. “Sort Of Like Being Pumped” by Bomb The Music Industry!
Little tiny banjo parts interrupt the melody of this song, breaking up the steady guitar strumming.
4. “Our Apartment” by Aaron West And The Roaring Twenties
The song starts out sad, but once the banjo kicks in, the song picks up into a happier mood.
5. “Piggy Bank” by Never Shout Never
This song epitomizes NSN’s Harmony album artwork, which shows singer Christofer Drew wearing overalls and a cowboy hat, strumming a banjo and playing the harmonica. “Piggy Bank” is super bouncy, full of hand claps and foot stomps.
6. “Folk Jam” by Pavement
As the song name implies, this one’s a little more folky, making it an interesting contrast with singer Stephen Malkmus’ deadpan lyrical delivery.
7. “Country Death Song” by Violent Femmes
Violent Femmes start off immediately with a bouncy bass walk, building a perfect world for the banjo improv that comes later.
8. “The Dress Looks Nice On You” by Sufjan Stevens
Stevens has a variety of instrumentation on most of his songs, and in this song, the banjo doesn’t enter until about halfway through. It adds a twangy layer to the otherwise acoustic background.
9. “Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya” by Dropkick Murphys
Banjo feels right at home on this Irish anthem, along with the electric guitars. It’s a quieter instrument, blending in with the rest of the loud, in-your-face rock.
10. “Living Room” by Tegan and Sara
Tegan and Sara get surprisingly folky in this song, with country-singer vocals over the bouncing banjo riffing.
11. “Nursing Home” by Ministry
The industrial song is heavy, but the banjo brings a lightness to it right away. You wouldn’t expect Ministry to throw a banjo into their music, but when they do, it works.