Friday, November 14, 2008


Listen to WHITE WINTER HYMNAL by Fleet Foxes.
Listen to MYKONOS by Fleet Foxes.

Jason dropping in.

The only reason I haven't posted about Fleet Foxes before is because I thought I already had.

I saw them live at The Empire in Shepherds Bush (London) on Monday and was trying to remember which of their songs I'd posted here before. I think that the combined memory of writing about Brian Wilson and The Shins made me think I'd covered the Fleet.....but I hadn't. And I should've.

It was the second best gig I've seen of 2008 (nothing could top Ace Frehley at the Astoria) and their "debut" album (there's a self-titled CD-R from 2006 of which only 200 copies were made....and its good - but not as good as their "official" debut) is currently one of metacritic's top 10 albums of 2008.

I've also been chopping and changing about which song to put up. I say "song" because my first of two posted tracks, "White Winter Hymnal", was never under question. Immediately glorious and untouchable. Not even a song, but a harmonic refrain of an anti-funeral-dirge.

The choice for the second song was much harder: "He Doesn't Know Why", "Your Protector", "Blue Ridge Mountains" and "Drops In The River" were all front-runners at some point.

I don't know about you, but the only way I can sort through the thousand-or-so tracks I try and absorb each month, is to rate them on the pod. One star gets deleted. Two stars get kept on the hard-drive for minor connection or history. Four stars make it to the pod and I won't listen to less after its rated. Five stars make the special list. And three stars? They inhabit that middle ground of being tracks I don't want to lose but ones that will only be listened to for a reason (if at all).

And the Fleet Foxes' debut album is unique to me because every song is 4 stars or above.....with one exception (strangely, the opening track). The whole album is that special blend of drawing you in at first listen as well as growing over the months afterwards. Tom Wilway describes it well at DrownedInSound:

The Fleet Foxes sound is pleasantly enjoyable at first but only after a number of listens does the dense harmonic sound, with its plethora of interesting instrumentation and vocals firing off in every direction, start to become engrained

They marry the Beach Boys with Crosby, Stills and Nash.... in a pastoral chapel ..... that smells of mulled wine....and candles...and 20 strangers.... that want to sing random cascading choral harmonies....with a few goats....and a mandolin....where the dress code says only: "wool and irony".

And here's a tip: if, like me, you only give songs a chance for the first minute, keep listening through these. They change - just like it does in my (finally!!!) selected second track, "Mykonos", from their "Sun Giant" EP. (Go on, Fleet. Tell me this isn't 2 separate songs that you jammed together!). The 2nd-half of this is worth hanging out for.

I'm going out with a stumble. I found this on YouTube. Two young Swedish girls - called "First Aid Kit", out in "the forest" covering the Fleet's "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song". Originally I thought this was a hoax....the guitar and vocals seemed too evenly balanced for an outdoor recording - until they laughed. They're only 15 and 17!!! - remind me of Pooka - watch:

Photo: ZELL AM SEE, AUSTRIA, 2008. Taken by Jason Bryant.



philip said...

the pic is very evocative of the band

Jason said...

Yo Liverpool geez.

I try and choose a pic that is connected somehow to each post. Although sometimes the link is cryptic.

But it can't last long - I'm running out of shots!