In search of some new music recently, I was given a tip by an old high school acquaintance to check out the Fleet Foxes. At first I wasn’t sure what I’d gotten myself into. The first track on their debut self-titled album starts out with something that sounds like its out of an Appalaichian gospel service circa 1946. Pitchy and nasaly, yes, but not without its charms. However, you can only take that for so long, and certainly not a whole album’s worth. Fortunately, that high and lonesome intro–apparently about a red squirrel–didn’t last too long and was a misleading precursor to what is a fantastic record. It took me a few listens to figure this out, but now that I have Fleet Foxes have found themselves a willing follower.
I’ve read reviews that have described them as the Beach Boys of winter who sound nothing like the Beach Boys, or a baroque Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. By their own account their songs are, “baroque harmonic pop jams.” If I had to put it into words (which I do since this is my blog) I’d say that if The Byrds had been a band of roving minstrels during the Renaissance, they probably would’ve sounded something like Fleet Foxes. Their influences are broad, from the aforementioned 60’s super groups to folk music, both foreign and domestic, to monastic choirs. The vocals on just about every song have the echoy sound of being recorded in a cavernous cathedral. This could be annoying after a while, but it works for Fleet Foxes, giving them a dreamy, almost melancholy sound. They aren’t your standard guitar-guitar-bass-drums instrumentalists either. While those are all present, they also weave in a heavy dose of organ, piano, tamporine, and a few other more exotic instruments.
They are fairly new to the music scene, releasing their first album and an EP in 2008. Both are absolutely worth checking out. They may not be for everybody, as it isn’t your typical radio-friendly vanilla pop. But if you’re looking for a more mature sound, with high marks for musicianship, songwriting, and sing-alongibility check out Fleet Foxes. I’ve put four of my favorite songs in the Box at the top of the left hand sidebar.