Friday, November 14, 2008

Fleet Foxes

In Woody Allen's 1983 film Zelig, the filmmaker seamlessly inserts his character, Leonard Zelig, into archival footage of famous people from the 1920s and 30s, from Babe Ruth to Adolf Hitler to Pope Pius XI. I thought of this the first time I listened to the self-titled debut CD from Seattle's Fleet Foxes. I could imagine them inserted seamlessly into the rock music scene of the late 1960s and early 1970s, sharing the stage with The Band in The Last Waltz or performing "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song" in archival footage of Woodstock. Twenty-two year old musical time traveler Robin Pecknold is the prime mover behind Fleet Foxes, writing the songs and creating a baroque folk rock ambience that's both fresh-sounding and instantly familiar. The CD sleeve includes a long list of influences that, unsurprisingly, includes both Maddy Prior and Brian Wilson. Fleet Foxes is evidently what it sounds like when you have a talented songwriter who grew up listening to the Beach Boys and Steeleye Span. On the other hand, Fleet Foxes fits in perfectly well with the retro sound of current bands like The Shins and the Decemberists and the Kings of Convenience. Robin Pecknold is all of twenty-two years old, but he has clearly absorbed the sounds of his hippie parents' generation. The sound he creates is both nostalgic and new. Meanwhile, critics have already been calling this CD the album of the year: "an instant classic," according to a review in The Guardian.

Here's Fleet Foxes performing "Blue Ridge Mountains" on Letterman back in 1974 earlier this year.

1 comment:

Louise said...

hmmm, they're good! There's me thinking I'm too old for contemporary muzak...

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