The northwest has been booming for a while now with new independent music streaming out like the glacial flows from Mt. Rainier. Those rivers have been cascading into our ears for some time now, but what was once fed by a melt-off of angst has now been replaced, and the headwaters bring a softer more nostalgic and equally emotional flow into our headphones.
The Fleet Foxes are a great example of this nostalgia with the 60s that new music seems to be taking in. After watching a short video of the band on Pitchfork.tv, I was incredibly intrigued and surprised at their modesty and humbleness with an essence of being above it all. Their harmonies reflect these feelings as if they were recorded in the open vastness of a church sanctuary during the times of Robin Hood. And as a whole the record invokes images of the Foxes playing to you softly as you lay in a meadow somewhere on the British Islands around the 1500s.
As a follow up to Sun Giant EP, their self-titled, full-length debut is more like a continuation offering a consistency that is comfortable. The disc offers up a full range of harmonies that can be related to Crosby, Still, Nash, and Young as well as Simon and Garfunkel. It was on that very episode of “Day Tripping” that the band talked much about their vocals and how much that was the core of their sound. The second track White Winter Hymnal opens with Robin Pecknold (lead vocals) leading in the rest of the band mates (Skye Skjelset, J Tillman, Casey Wescott, Christian Wargwith) in a five-part harmony that lasts through out the song as if label-mates the Shins and Simon and Garfunkel had conducted a five-man choir. Through out most of the record you find that while Robin is on lead vocals he is seldom alone. This style shows off the full range of every band member as both talented musicians and strong vocalists who could easily hold their own.
The music itself is simple and reminiscent of a folk sound that has begun to be tapped by many new independent musicians today. The guitars bring in a hint of Dylan, and the arrangements all together scratch at Jefferson Airplane at times but stick to that 60s folk-rock tradition with their own style seamlessly worked in.
On Tiger Mountain Peasant Song Robin shows his ability as a storyteller ditching the harmonies leaving only his voice coupled with a very charming duet of guitars. This style appears again on the album closer Oliver James in which it is again just Robin, but this time only one simple guitar, and together sends the listener off into a dream like state that by the end of the song you realize that you have found yourself comforted and revitalized.
The album is heavy in harmonies and a 60s song-writing feel that is hard to ignore, and yet the band knows this and talks of this in interviews. Even though the Fleet Foxes record is reflecting of a musical past, it is heavy in a unique style that is their own in todays new musical world. This being their first full length release I am very impressed with their calming and uplifting sound that is unique to find amongst the heart broken and sarcastic musicians of today. Its good to know that folk isnt dead.