Sunday, June 8, 2008

Fleet Foxes - CD review

Fleet Foxes released their first full-length CD on Tuesday (June 3) to glowing reviews and a rapidly expanding fan base. I eagerly join that chorus as I've been basking in their indie-folk music for three months now. What I've gathered from various sources is that 21 year old Robin Pecknold got together these friends for the express purpose of singing three, four and five-part harmonies. They recorded their first EP just last January, then started performing live around the Pacific northwest and at their third (or second) show Sub Pop approached them, signed them, and consequently released the "Sun Giant" EP in April. In March they toured a bit, ending up at SXSW where bloggers and critics who saw them wrote unqualified raves . I read one of them somewhere which led me to their Myspace page where I listened to some songs and heard those astonishing harmonies, coupled with that beautiful melancholia and I was hooked, as it was folk-influenced rock in the mid sixties that first attracted my taste for rock and roll. I felt like the natural target for their music.
Now comes the full length, self-titled CD, again on Sub Pop. Sometimes new music comes along that, when you hear it for the first time, feels as though you know it already. As if it had been plucked from some other cosmos, where music exists, already written and somehow certain artists can pull this music out - fully formed. I've felt this with Everest's CD "Ghost Notes", and "Amen Namo" by Amnion, and anything by Beirut; and such is the case with Fleet Foxes. Their music reminds me of ancient sonnets or madrigals. Of another era, yet comforting and familiar and filled with the joy of performance.
Robin Pecknold's startlingly mature and sophisticated songwriting is matched by his confidence and ability as a singer. And he has surrounded himself with comparable talent perfectly matching his gifts as as a singer and instrumentalist. "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song" is a stand out, pensive and moving, that seems timeless, so pure in it's beauty. "He Doesn't Know Why" and "Blue Ridge Mountains" also jump out at me and more songs will reveal themselves to me the more I listen.
Beautiful packaging, with the great Breugel painting for the cover, also seems to be a hallmark of this band, as is the rather lengthy essay on the meaning of music as it relates to all our lives, found inside. I believe Mr. Pecknold writes these pieces, and they're worth a read as they're filled with that youthful directness and honesty, that, even from where I sit, feels undeniably true. I love his observations on the relationship between music and memory, and even more his quote that music is "it's own strange religion for nonbelievers".
I look forward to seeing them live on June 28th at the Echo and June 29th at Spaceland if only to see who plays what instruments an they steadfastly refuse to detail that in their liner notes, only saying they all play everything. And what an opportunity to see a band that will be huge, before they're at the Greek or the Hollywood Bowl.
No question, this is one of the finest albums of the year!


1 comment:

ishouldbeking said...

mmm, i agree. both the ep and album are excellent... oddly reminiscent of a whole lot of things, yet strangely new. fantastic new band!