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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Fleet Foxes give us Instant Nostalgia

Editor's Note: It was a great challenge selecting our Top 20 Albums of the Year. When we were all through, we started checking out the selections of our peers. We saw some similarities in our picks but for the most part, our choices for the best were just different. Case in point, the subject of today's post. Time and Time again during our search of peer blogs, we looked upon the name Fleet Foxes. Each time, we rolled our shoulders and shrugged. None of us detest the band, but none of us could hear the magic or feel the love. This is the story of our writer-debate here on the RSL.

Coincidentally, there are a number of 2008 projects and songs we didn't yet shower sufficient praise on. That must mean it's about time for the Annual RSL Music Awards. [Link to 2007 ] Next week, we put the final wrap on 2008 and recap our selections for the year's most choice (and often the most overlooked materials.) We promise that much will be new to your ears and a real treat.

FLEET FOXES made a Lot of Noise this Year

DID WE MISS SOMETHING?

DATELINE: At the Center of the Indie Rock Universe - It’s all true. Listening to Fleet Foxes gives us a trip back to a period of classic late 60s and early 70s music. They do a good job of sounding like The Beach Boys, The Eagles, or Crosby. Stills, Nash and Young, at their best.

The band is technically great, demonstrating a sensitive "mastery" of their instruments. This skill allows them to play with confidence under the prerequisite floods of reverb suitable for the period to which they are playing homage. (Are you already catching the drift?)

The vocals on this album are pretty close to pitch-perfect, even in what sounds like four or five part harmonies. As legions of reviewers have concluded then, it is true that these Foxes are the complete package...

But let me step out of this company line for a moment... Let us depart from the well-trod upon path of reviewers paying considerable praise to Fleet Foxes’s "genius" eponymous album.

Haven't We Heard this All Before?

This New Record just Reminded us of The Past


We ask fair but difficult questions: Is this effort, this homage to Fleet Foxes' musical heroes, just too a little too close to the original? (I suppose you could reword it like this: At what point is imitation not flattery?) Does this effort from Fleet Foxes really give the world anything original? Is this band a living and breathing bit of nostalgia?

It is a bit unfortunate that the latest generation of music lovers needs to be re-educated about the past by listening to it being played by the young... We can't and we won't end up hating the Foxes- it's tough to detest something this skilled. But we have to question the creative value of this one.

Our Conclusion: Fleet Foxes were fun fare, but hardly "Best of." Our recommendation is to head to your local record shop and buy the original material from the classic rock heavy-hitters who did it the first time. Fleet Foxes are pretty good stuff, but they just made us nostalgic for the past.

FLEET FOXES
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RELATED PIECE:
Beck's Modern Guilt (2008)
"Not As Good As They Say"

7 comments:

March to the Sea said...

after reading good press/reviews etc I grabbed the cd with some gift card $$ and I have to say I really like it. I hear early My Morning Jacket as well. I am sure its cool to say you don't like em (not you per se) but I dig it.

Ryan said...

Based on what I have read around the blogs, I thought it was "cool" to lavish the record with boundless praise.

As far as I am aware, we are one of the few music outlets (are there any others?) that has reasonably criticized the album for its lack of innovation and creativity.

It's a pretty good album, just NOT what we would describe as One of the Best released in 2008.

Michael Epstein said...

I'm actually totally with you on this one. I actually feel like every single one of these hot new bands is just a rehash of something that was done better before. Maybe I'm just getting old!

J.Pike said...

I disagree with you on this one. Fleet Foxes do indeed use elements of the old folk-sters, but if you listen carefully, you'll find creative song structures that don't follow the same verse-chorus-verse-chorus pattern of the older bands you referenced. I think this is what sets them apart from the rest of the bands rehashing the past.

In my opinion, they subtly put their spin on the past and it resulted in a vastly enjoyable EP & LP that are just as good on repeat listens as they are on the first play.

Nick said...

I totally get your "good but not great" argument here. Albums as universally acclaimed as this one I also tend to approach with a good deal of skepticism (see: Panda Bear, Burial, LCD Soundsystem).

But I really enjoyed this record.

The sound (or sonics) aren't exactly groundbreaking, but they've made an album loaded with gorgeous and often very memorable melodies, which is not a simple task.

Matthew Girard said...

I actually found the record far less inspiring than the EP; which I thought was brilliant.

Woody said...

I understand your opinion on this but I tend to fall in line with J.Pike. They are also one of the best live bands I saw this year. Great stage presence as well.