Fleet Foxes continue Sub Pop’s Legacy

11Jul08

Fleet Foxes are the next big indie band from giant indie label, Sub op. After years of bringing great indie artists to the spotlight, it’s only expected they bring another “soft, but hard” and “quiet, yet unexpected” and other contradicting cliché type group into indie acclaim. Enter Fleet Foxes, with their self-titled EP. With a whopping 9 out of 10 on pitchfork media and reaching #1 on the CMJ charts, there may be more to this 5 piece from Seattle’s suburbs that meets the ear.

Thinking about their sound and influences, a few things come to mind. One, they are from the suburbs, two, they are from Seattle, and three; there is a strong folk sound on each track. Beware these are just unconcrete thoughts, with that said, let’s being. I’m from the Suburbs and let me tell you. There is nothing to do there. It’s boring. And like a ghetto, the only way to leave is by being unique or successful. And Fleet Foxes succeeded.

Their Seattle area also brings another stream of consciousness connotation onto Fleet Foxes and their indie scene all together. A connotation I will try to explain. Seattle music brings to mind one major reference, Nirvana and grunge. And before you leave an angry comment, let me explain. Fleet Foxes are not grunge, nor am I calling them equivalent to Nirvana in influence. However, grunge was a movement in music that grew momentum in the 90’s. Could it be that the folk influences of this Seattle band along with the folk renewal of the indie scene be the “grunge” movement of today? Even though this folk movement (or any movement) will have as large of an impact as grunge did, it still has this sweeping effect in new releases in the indie realm. For an example, Sigur Ros’ 2008’s Með Suð í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust and Animal Collective’s Water Curses are more folk pop than their ambient and noise beginnings (respectively).

Onto Fleet Foxes’ music: Comparing them to Sub Pop family members, the Shins, Fleet Foxes has got the beat with their stronger harmonies, fluctuating emphasis on volume and varying instrumentals. Fleet Foxes would have made Garden State a better movie.

The album opens up with folk-lyrics but progressively built with “Sun It Rises” and gets stronger with its single “White Winter Hymnal”. I’m glad this is their single because I really like it. There’s breeziness to it and the harmonies build on each other that lead to an instrumental climax. “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” resembles the 60’s folk revival with its simple guitar playing and tempo changes. Even with its older influences and classic structure, it avoids being “retro”.

Also, people (especially haters) have been saying that all new music is just rehashed old music. And the Fleet Foxes could be accused of that. With the apparent influences by classic rock artists like the Beach Boys, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Simon & Garfunkel, and Bob Dylan, they are combining the sounds they know with a style they have created, which ends up being an album “delicate, yet strong”, “aged, but fresh” and “peaceful and commanding”.

Rating: B

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