It's now twenty years since grunge emerged from then culturally isolated Seattle and Fleet Foxes, the eponymous debut album from the city's latest heroes, demonstrates just how much American independent rock has mutated in that time. The five young members of Fleet Foxes make up a very different sort of rock band, describing their own music as "baroque harmonic pop jams". Even that understates the depths of the quintet's effortless vocal harmonies and gently woozy, folky feel. Of their contemporaries only the enigmatic Midlake and My Morning Jacket at their most fragile come close, but neither could have cooked up the Beach Boys spiritual of "White Winter Hymnal" or its more powerful companion piece "Ragged Wood". In fact Fleet Foxes happily admit to aspiring to an earlier tradition--not just obvious antecedents like the Byrds, the Association, Neil Young and, especially, David Crosby's famously unfocussed solo album If Only I Could Remember My Name but ancient English folk songs and their later American descendents. All were hunted and gathered from the internet--songwriters Robin Pecknold and Skye Skjelset are barely in their twenties. Add a host of unlikely instruments and the results are stunning, the complete antithesis of mainstream stadium indie that has followed Arcade Fire. Still, the cover features a Bruegel painting of peasants that might have graced any Black Sabbath sleeve. In that way at least Fleet Foxes salute a local tradition. -Steve Jelbert
2008 album from this Seattle based quintet. Fleet Foxes are, for lack of an imminently more marketable descriptor, a group trafficking in baroque harmonic pop. And the joy they derive in doing so is palpable. We feel it too. They are, self-described, not much of a rock band. With the help of credit cards, minimum wages, tip money, friends and family, Fleet Foxes crafted their first demo, and subsequently the Sun Giant EP and this debut full-length album, with family friend Phil Ek manning the rudder. Drawing influence from the traditions of folk music, pop, choral music and gospel, sacred harp singing, West Coast music, traditional music from Ireland to Japan, film scores, and their NW peers, Fleet Foxes ranges in subject matter from the natural world and familial bonds to bygone loves and stone cold graves.