I believe it was either late 2008 or early 2009 when The Bob handed me a copy of Fleet Foxes, the debut self-titled full-length album from that band. The Fleet Foxes were a band that I had been reading about before I finally gave them a listen. This is a band that proves how vital social media is in today’s music world for The Fleet Foxes gained a huge following as a result of their MySpace site. That of course translates into word-of-mouth so without even having a record deal in 2007 they already possessed a solid fan base.
The Fleet Foxes came together in 2006 in Seattle, Washington. Robin Pecknold and Skyler Skjelset were high school friends, both with an appreciation for the music of Bob Dylan and Neil Young. The two started jamming and writing songs together and it quickly became apparent there was something special being created, particularly due to the songwriting and singing abilities of Pecknold. Three more people joined the duo to create the full-band line-up of The Fleet Foxes and they quickly released a self-titled demo later that same year. The band’s sixties inspired style of indie folk rock caught on quickly and they made a big splash on the Seattle music scene.
This led to a record deal with Sub Pop in 2008 and the band released the Sun Giant EP and Fleet Foxes full-length album that year. Like I mentioned earlier it was that album that Bobby gave me a copy of and I freaked when hearing it the first time, particularly the second track “White Winter Hymnal”. The music was gorgeous, absolutely lush in terms of offering sweeping, multiple mandolin and guitar work. More important, the harmonies were some of the best I had heard since the days of The Beach Boys. I had a chance to see the band play at Coachella in 2009. It was a good show but that band’s style was better suited for an intimate venue. Trying to focus on the harmonies in the midst of thousands of drunk and high hippies and Gen Y hipsters was pretty much impossible.
Three years later the band released its sophomore album. Helplessness Blues was my #8 album for 2011 and “Grown Ocean” my #8 song for 2011 as well. When I wrote that Musings post about the album I stated at that time I liked Helplessness Blues more than Fleet Foxes. That opinion may be different today but both albums are truly remarkable. I missed the opportunity to see them when they came to Phoenix on tour and am kicking myself to this day. Drummer J Tillman left the band in 2012 and although the band posted on its Facebook page in 2014 two teaser pics of being in the recording studio, the pics have since been deleted and Robin Pecknold has since moved to New York to go to school. We shall see if the band comes off hiatus one of these days. I sure hope so!
“Grown Ocean” continues to be my favorite song from the band. The harmonies are at a peak and I love the tempo of this track, much more upbeat than the majority of the music from The Fleet Foxes. Enjoy.
Album Inspiration: Helplessness Blues