Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Fleet Foxes: EP and Concert Review
Vocal harmony is a powerful tool. Older bands such as The Beatles, The Band, and The Beach Boys used this to craft timeless songs. Fleet Foxes, a band from Seattle, utilize harmony and vocals to create immersive and intriguing tunes on their recently released EP, Sun Giant.
Fleet Foxes’ first release, Sun Giant delivers a compelling and surprisingly satisfying experience despite only containing five songs. All of the songs on the EP are centered heavily around vocal parts and harmonies. Robin Pecknold, the lead singer of Fleet Foxes (if such a thing could be said), has a rich and full voice that imbues the songs with emotion. His bandmates keyboardist Casey Wescott, bassist Christian Wargo, and drummer Nicholas Peterson harmonize with him on many of the songs, while Skyler Skjelset plays guitar. Perhaps appropriately, the album opens with the title track “Sun Giant”, a largely a cappella song that has a strong motif of nature and the seasons. This short track is followed by “Drops in the River”, a song that slowly builds, adding in a new instrument every so often. The next two songs on the EP are especially strong, “English House” and “Mykonos”. Both feature wordless harmonizing vocals at the beginning, setting the mood. “English House” tells a tale of a country house in Brighton where “a liar and a louse” live. “Mykonos” has cryptic lyrics, but has a powerful a cappella part where the music stops and the voices all cry, “Brother you don’t need to turn me away, I was waiting down at the ancient gate.” The final track on the EP is “Innocent Son” which features just Pecknold’s vocals and a single guitar. Pecknold’s vocals are just as powerful alone, evoking a less sexual Robert Plant on this song. The final lyric uttered by Peckold on the EP is “Run, rabbit run”, perhaps a reference to Jon Updike’s classic novel Rabbit Run. Fleet Foxes has crafted an excellent debut EP with Sun Giant.
I also had the fortune to see Fleet Foxes live in Columbia on March 17th. They played at Mojo’s, a venue notorious for its poor sound quality and loudness, not attributes suited for a Fleet Foxes performance. However, Fleet Foxes reproduced the sound of their studio performance very well. In fact, many songs had more emotion and intensity live, especially “Mykonos”. The concert was similar to a church service, with the crowd standing quietly in awe of Fleet Foxes’ gospel-like music.
Fleet Foxes also have an LP coming out in June on the Sub-Pop label. Anyone interested in Fleet Foxes can get a good idea of their sound by visiting their MySpace page. For anyone interested in rustic sounding music with strong vocal harmony, I would highly recommend Sun Giant.
Both Sun Giant and the concert receive the coveted Handle-bar moustache (5 out of 5).
Fleet Foxes- Mykonos