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What I’m listening to this week: Fleet Foxes

June 7, 2009

Fleet Foxes – 2008

The first couple of times I listened to Fleet Foxes, I didn’t like the album at all.  It just seemed way too slow and quiet.  Even so, I decided this week to give it another chance, and that proved to be a good choice.  I listened to it three times this week alone and it managed to grow on me quite a bit.

The entire album is reminiscent of 1960s folk, especially British-influenced, with touches of modern rock all along the way.  There are hints of different bands and artists laced throughout; the Mamas and the Papas, Zeppelin, Simon and Garfunkel, and Neil Young, but Robin Pecknold’s uniquely modern voice (at times even sounding like Jim James) gives the music an undeniably “new” sound.  The songs are almost refreshingly low-key, in the sense that you don’t get bashed over the head by the musical influences, or by the band’s attempts to put their own stamp onto the sound.

“Sun It Rises” has the obvious “Stairway to Heaven”-esque, folklore inspired guitar riff, leading the way into more American folk sounding “White Winter Hymnal”.  “WWH” has glorious vocal harmonies and a jangly upbeat guitar disguising dark lyrics in what is probably the best song on the album.  “Ragged Wood” begins like a driving folk song and then breaks down into an acoustic campfire sing-along before entering its third act, a scenic America-sounding harmony.

Pecknold’s vocals and lyrical ability are on display with the gentle songs like “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” and “Meadowlarks”, which bored me before, but I now appreciate for their lovely simplicity and songwriting.  Other album highlights are “He Doesn’t Know Why”, the track that sounds the most like a classic song you’d find on a 1960s compilation album, “Your Protector”, another Zeppelin-inspired track, and “Blue Ridge Mountains”, which again showcases the band’s impressive harmonies and story-telling.

Fleet Foxes is a great listen, not just to hear the influences, but because the band manages to make 40 year-old folk rock feel current.  It’s an impressively mature debut album and with this many interesting elements, Fleet Foxes shouldn’t have a problem continuing to develop their own sound.

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