Entries in Fleet Foxes (13)
Fall Classic had so much fun with their debut, Nerves, they’ve decided to return just a smidge beyond the calendar year for a wildly animalist follow up, Man/Other Beasts. Though released in April, I didn’t get my hands on Nerves until the apex of the fall season, and decidedly, wrote an overtly thematic review AS FOLLOWS. It came a bit of a surprise to me to receive a new album so soon, in that seasonal mindset, seemingly a tad early. Can you imagine if football season just decided to start mid-Summer, instead of waiting all the way until September?
People would lose their respective shit!
Man/Other Beasts deserves that kind of overwhelming pandemonium. What!? Another Fall Classic album? It’s too soon? Is it too soon? It’s been over a year? What about the sophomore slump? If they have the material, they should truck on, right? What more could one want from a young band. Take that honeymoon creativity…to the moon?
I think that’s what we have here.
The sexy, basking in the wilderness’ visceral glow, follow up to Nerves really builds off the kinetic energy of the Chicago quartets debut. Their sound seems whittled, concise and battle tested—sharp enough to kill. Schematically, the album breaks itself into it’s own double-edge sword, with each singer, Ryan Jeffrey and Andrew Fatato, taking half an album, with an outro to the albums self-proclaimed climax (“we’ll never survive on the fox’s share…”) thriving as the continental divide.
The divide works, as the singers have their own vibe and, of course, competing concurrent strengths, thinking well of Outkast’s Speakboxx/The Love Below’s dueling banjos. The first four songs feature Jeffrey’s kind of worldly sounding, raspy, sultry, vocals of cascading patience. Meanwhile tracks six through nine, feature Fatato’s more slicing with serrated sleekness crooning, in the vein of Blind Faith era Steve Winwood. His vocals are obviously not that high, but following the throaty ease of Jeffrey’s delivery, his songs tend to soar like they are pouncing their way out of the speakers, like salmon spawning downstream.
Much like its predecessor, Man/Other Beasts seems to stick with a theme and roll on through the safari. There is a palpable, animalistic rawness through all the songs, titles, themes and cover art that secludes the listening experience to a disclosed Fall Classic island. A portal you’re going to enjoy, because you’ve been transported away from all the trials and tribulations of modern life. Now, all you have to do is make some weapons for hunting, build a fire and construct shelter for the evening!?
This tone is set with the albums opening track, “Bones and Blood,” a song that harmonizes the self-aggrandizing image of cutting holes in the sun, while waxing the realist propaganda that we, as humans, are just bones and blood. It’s simple, but a prophetic tune that spins the flywheel enough to turnover the engine. At the very least, one finds their feet pattering against the wet sand pictured on the albums’ cover art. You might even be able to hear an Anthony Kiedis mirage caroling about how you don’t form in the wet sand, but he does. Man/Other Beasts sure as shit does. Well, It doesn’t matter, when you have a head that is half fox, half lion—the curtain on your deserted beach safari stage has risen, friends.
The first single, and wedged anchor of the album, “The Lion” is the quintessential Fall Classic song. It opens sardonically, with a jabbing, “don’t dig your spade in me/shake the hope that I will be your foundation” before wallowing, “…and I will let you down/dooooooooown/I will let you down.” It has a troubling drum line, like there is a trial in the wild, and there is rope and a fire—somebody is going to roast, tonight!? The patience of the song is the patent of Fall Classic. About three-and-a-half minutes into the song, the chanting, yet marketable, “we’ll never survive on the fox’s share” presents itself, repeats itself, trademarks itself and then crescendos climatically on the strength of Christopher Grandberry’s whirlwind percussion. One might find themselves reflecting on the incredible journey they just took. It then forays further into an outro to the song titled simply, “/” the albums pivot point, and there is a beautiful acapella sequence, harmonizing Jeffrey’s fox’s share hook, with an undisclosed female vocal and eventually a third and maybe fourth vocal sequence. It’s a majestic blend signaling intermission.
My favorite song on the album is the following song, “Firebreaks” as it’s echoing guitars strike a tone with me, as the beat swirls around me like feverish strobe lighting, and the chord progression thumps in threes with tribal confidence, like many songs on the White Stripes album Icky Thump. Pow-pow-pow…rest…pow-pow-pow. Throughout the vocals are cutting and soulful, delivering a clean melody with very relatable lyrics to any victim of unrequited love. I almost want to cry as Fatato repeats, whines, repeats, “she’s never not alone/never, never not alone/never not alone/” before howling, “I’m giving you up!!!!” I love that lyrical pairing of taking time and giving you up, together, to me, signifies a great ying-yang concept as they inherently call for different actions. That’s really the way my mind works when I’ve been vanquished by passion and unrequited love. There’s that internal struggle where you want to give it up, but then, you tell yourself to settle down, take time, give it some space, which makes you more and more frustrated. I feel like that all the time. I live my life with this internal struggle and this song hits this notion on the head. I mean Dear God…can she PLEASE BE ALONE!? Sigh. (I must disclaimer, if you’ve never read me before, I’m not saying at ALL this is what this song is ACTUALLY about, this is simply what I would use it for and how I have related to it. I think it’s obvious, but I feel I must say it for the small chance my articulations get lost in translation.)
If every good thing in marketing, in life, is a product of timing, for me, this album struck me right between the eyes. Sandwiched in a recent re-obsession with Fleet Foxes and a few stormy pre-Summer nights in NYC with Shearwater, the Earthy disposition of Man/Other Beasts has ground its foundation within my “anything but the concrete jungle right now” soul. When sweat seems like a non-stop problem, it’s nice to take a journey with a civilization that has less choices. Lions and foxes sweat but they don’t care. They eat, drink and fornicate. The Earth sweats itself all over, but hey, the Earth is just silly like that. Silly Earth. Stop sweating so much, you’re hurting people.
The spear cast in my heart from these Earthy jams was just wood, and sharpened, splintered wood. Sometimes, that’s all you need. Wood. And space, time and place, to throw wood.
Fall Classics’ second album “Man/Other Beasts” was released June 1st. If you read this and don't buy it a lion will eat you. Seriously.
I'm keeping with my acoustic-ish theme of the week with this splendid set from Fleet Foxes playing in the most corrupt...errr...our Nations capital! The Black Cat is one of those bucket list venues, hope to make it out there one day.
Anyways, haven't heard much out of Robin Pecknold and the boys for a while but I hope they're cooking up some new material somewhere - hopefully in a mountainside cabin.
Have a glorious one folks.
01 Sun Giant
02 Sun it Rises
03 Drops in the River
04 English House
05 White Winter Hymnal
06 Your Protector
07 He Doesn't Know Why
08 Crayon Angels
09 Oliver James
11 Tiger Mountain Peasant Song
01 The Cascades
02 Grown Ocean
03 Drops In The River
04 Battery Kinzie
05 Sim Sala Bim
07 Your Protector
08 White Winter Hymnal
09 Ragged Wood
10 He Doesn't Know Why
11 The Shrine/An Argument
12 Blue Ridge Mountains
13 Helplessness Blues
NEWS - J. TIllman Leaves Fleet Foxes + DOWNLOAD - Fleet Foxes - 2011-05-30 - Le Bataclan - Paris, FR
It was announced today that J. Tillman, drummer of Fleet Foxes, has left the band. He posted this on his Tumblr:
"Farewell Fleet Fans and Friends. Back into the gaping maw of obscurity I go. Tokyo is my last show with the Foxes. Sorry if I was distant and obtuse if we ever met. Have fun."
Tillman has been a member of Fleet Foxes since before the release of their debut record in 2008. He isn't quitting music though, the guy has been releasing solo work since 2004. For a look into the mans style check out his song for song cover of Neil Young's Tonight's The Night.
01 Drops In The River
02 Battery Kinzie
03 Bedouin Dress
04 Sim Sala Bim
06 Your Protector
07 Tiger Mountain Peasant Song
08 White Winter Hymnal
09 Ragged Wood
12 He Doesn't Know Why
13 The Shrine/An Argument
14 Blue Spotted Tail
15 Blue Ridge Mountains
16 Oliver James
17 Helplessness Blues
I was never a big fan of the Fleet Foxes’ first album. I somehow ended up with it back when it came out, and I liked it enough on the first few listens that I gave it. But it soon got lost in the sea of new music, and I never really cared enough to go back to it, other than ocassionally enjoying “Ragged Wood” and “Blue Ridge Mountains” when they came up in my playlists. That was about it, the Fleet Foxes were just another “buzz band” for me, and the constant comparisons between their frontman Robin Pecknold and My Morning Jacket’s Jim James only made it worse for me; it made me think of them as a band trying to hang off of the success of other bands.
But that all changed with Helplessness Blues...
Fleet Foxes, another front runner for "Album of the Year" with Helplessness Blues, have just released their long awaited video for the absolute stunner of a tune "The Shrine / An Argument." It's one of the most creative bits of animation I've ever seen and really encapsulates the soul of the song. almost as if they were composed together. Check it out above.
For a good dose of live Fleet Foxes, hit our very own "The Treasury."
NME's sister magazine, Uncut, gives an award away every year to the band with "most exciting, inspirational and rewarding album of the last 12 months." A panel of judges chooses this record from a list of 8 and a transcript of their discussions will eventually be posted here, giving us an idea as to how such a difficult decision was made. The list is an impressive one, a few of these albums are definitely on my "Best of 2011" list, as a matter of fact I listened to the Fleet Foxes Helplessness Blues and Bon Iver Bon Iver back to back last night while reading the excellent Steve Jobs bio, Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. I'd personally like to see Bon Iver take this one, Bon Iver, is an astonishingly good sophomore album that is leaps and bounds in a totally new and excellent direction for the Eau Claire, WI based group.
Great video of Fleet Foxes doing their thing in Chicago this past summer. Right now they're on the road well into January and all over the world, no matter where you're at it's worth your hard earned scratch.
Pitchfork has all sorts of excellent videos from their annual fest on their new (and f*cking sharp might I add) website, check it out here.
Who has seen the Fleet Foxes since the excellent Helplessness Blues has come out? I haven't had the chance, all I have are these excellent live sets to keep me going. They are currently on the road, from what I understand it's quite the set. Check out dates here.
This is what we call a hidden gem ladies and gents. A 16 year old Robin Pecknold (founder of the Fleet Foxes) going by the name "Robin Neol Vaas" playing seven, untitled acoustic tracks for the EP "St. Vincent Street." Apparrently this was given to a Starbucks worker in Kirkland, WA back in 2004 (full, very short, story here). The guy was only 16 years old and he made this? Wow.