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Archive for the ‘Fleet Foxes’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: DRY THE RIVER-“Bible Belt” (Field Recordings, March 27, 2012).

The Field Recordings project was such a neat idea.  Kind of like the Tiny Desk, but not.  Many of them were planned ahead of time and some of t hem seem surreptitious.  It’s a wonder they didn’t do more or aren’t still doing them.

Since the whole NPR crew goes to SXSW, it just seems like these little songs would be easy to score.  I realize that they now do the South by Lullaby, but this is different (sort of).

This Field Recording [Dry The River: An Oasis Of Calm Amid The Feedback] is from a band I don’t know.  They were playing at SXSW and NPR got them to play on the secluded patio of Joe’s Crab Shack’s  overlooking the Colorado River (which is one thing that makes this cooler than a Tiny Desk).

“Bible Belt” is a gentle acoustic song with delightful harmonies–not unlike Fleet Foxes or Band of Horses.  Dry the River includes a violin which adds a slightly different quality.  But like those other bands, the song looks to soar:

Dry the River typically writes music with big, cathartic climaxes in mind: Songs on the band’s first full-length album, Shallow Bed, tend to start with miniaturized melodies that eventually burst into thunderous rock anthems.

You can feel like this song wants to be bigger, but they handle a quieter version nicely.

On this particular morning, Dry the River arrived in a more intimate formation, swapping electric guitars for acoustics and its full drum set for a single snare. While this performance of the gorgeous “Bible Belt” eases back on the loudness of the original, the band by no means lacks power. The result is a hushed, stirring performance that highlights the band’s many strengths.

My favorite part is the moment the band grows really quiet and you can hear some birds singing.  I’m very curious to hear just how big the original gets.

[READ: November 8, 2018] “Cattle Praise Song”

This is a story about genocide and cows.  The genocide is unavoidable but not explicit; the cows are the focus.

Starting in Rwanda, a seven-year old boy, Karekezi, watches his father with their herd of cows.  The cows are everything to them.  Karekezi even has a cow of his own: Intamati–all of the cows are named.  Every morning they look after the cows carefully–removing ticks or other insects, carefully inspecting them, calling them by their name and petting them–even worrying about a cow that takes too long to pee:

He’d hold her tail high and boldly lean forward–never mind that if the cow finally decided to urinate she might shower him.  Nobody dared to laugh.  Anyway, isn’t cow urine, amagana, considered to be a potent remedy?

The first few pages discuss the caring for and nurturing of these cows–the hand feeding, the fires to keep away flies; the special water only for the cows to drink.  And then the milking–a family event in which the best milkers milked and the others carried the bowls of milk like a priest with a chalice.  The young children drank hungrily from the fresh warm milk. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: FIRST AID KIT-Drunken Trees EP (2008).

First Aid Kit is a band made of sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg.  When they released this debut EP, Johanna was 18 and Klara was 15.  It was produced by their dad and made a big splash in Sweden.  When they uploaded a video of their cover of Fleet Foxes’ “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song,” (included on the reissue of this disc) Fleet Foxes linked to it and raved about it and that brought them more attention.

This album feels homemade in the best way.  It feels quiet and cozy–like a family sitting around a fireplace playing guitar and autoharp (their dad was in a band as well, and he plays on the album too).

“Little Moon” opens with a lengthy spoken section (over a pretty melody).  The sisters start singing in harmony after a minute and the song is cute (the ra ra ra ra section is a little jarring).  “You’re Not Coming Home Tonight” has a surprisingly grown up sentiment:
Yeah you cooked his dinners
You raised his children
Still he’s not satisfied
He says “I’d rather switch with you
You don’t know how hard it is
To work from 9 to 5”

But the heroine of the story leaves the man and sets off on a new life.  “Tangerine” is a bit less empowering–and it sure seems like there was some kind of domestic trouble at home (although there doesn’t seem to have been): “I’m not going to beg just say please, please, please / Be good to me.”

“Jagadamba, You Might” this is a darker, slower song, and like the first song they sing “Jagadamba” as a kind of syllabic sound which is strangely jarring.

“Our Own Pretty Ways” is the fullest sounding song with a flute and a prominent two-step.  “Pervigilo” features an organ and runs over 5 minutes.  It’s a pretty song and while never striking, it doesn’t overstay its welcome either.  “Cross Oceans” has a loud (for them) bass and drum rumble.  It hints at a direction they would explore more but ultimately deviate from.

The addition of “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song,” is a treat as their harmonies are really striking in the chorus–the way they know when to harmonize and when to keep the harmonies a bit more distant.  It’s really striking.

The album is a strong beginning.  They are certainly still finding their way, but it’s a pretty and fun recording.

[READ: January 8, 2018] “Whoever Is There Come on Through”

My brief exposure to Colin Barrett suggests that he writes about Ireland and drugs.  This story is about Ireland and drugs.

Eileen is waiting for her friend Murt at the bus depot.  He has just gotten out of rehab.  The first thing he asked was who won the U.S. election.  “Whoa,” he said flatly.

They have been friends–very close, but never more than friends–for a dozen years. When they were sixteen, he confessed to having a crush on her, but she said they should just be friends.  A few weeks later he we into the hospital for the first time.  She naturally blamed herself, but he assured her that she was just one of a bunch of causes.

When he arrived at her car he asked her to take him to his Uncle Nugent’s.  He talked a bit about his current state and then asked to go to McDonald’s.  He ordered two Happy Meals and then wondered if they ever ask adults who order Happy Meals if there is a child with them.  Murt says he is tired, which automatically raises red flags for Eileen, but she didn’t want to be too pushy with him. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: July 31, 2017] Fleet Foxes

I recently made a list of the bands that I’d like to see live.  Fleet Foxes was one of them.  So even though getting to the Mann is a hassle, it was a great venue to watch them.

Their debut album is just brilliant.  I recently listened to their second album and realized I didn’t know it that well. Their new album is, I will admit, a bit challenging to get into.  Bit the melodies and the harmonies…oh the harmonies!

I knew that they were playing pretty much the entire new album, but also a lot of the debut album, which is what I came for.  Robin Pecknold’s voice was tremendous (I guess six years off was good for the vocal chords).  And the harmonies of the rest of the band were outstanding.  With 22 songs in about 2 hours, they sounded great. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: July 31, 2017] Animal Collective

The Mann Center is a gorgeous venue, but it’s a real hassle for us to get to–for a 7PM show it takes about 2 hours.  Which is absurd.  I swore we wouldn’t go back again, and then they announced Sigur Rós back in June and then Fleet Foxes and Belle and Sebastian this week.

So much for not going.

Well, this early show indeed meant that after two hours in the car we still missed at least one song from Animal Collective.

I’ve known about Animal Collective for a long time–they’re pretty legendary.  I’ve never really gotten into them, although they do have a few songs that I like.

They are a headlining band in their own right with their own dedicated fanbase–who were out in force, dancing everywhere during their set.  And checking recent setlists, it sounds like their shows are typically much longer than this one (about 70 minutes). (more…)

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10SOUNDTRACK: FATHER JOHN MISTY-Fear Fun (2012).

fjmI can’t get over how much I’ve been enjoying this album for the last two years.  Father John Misty is J Tillman from Fleet Foxes.

This disc is a gentle folk album with vaguely country leanings.  The arrangements are spare and yet the verses and choruses are so great to sing along to. “Funtimes in Babylon” has this infectious chorus: “I would like to abuse my lungs, smoke everything in sight with every girl I’ve ever loved.  Ride around the wreckage on a horse knee deep in mud.  Look out, Hollywood, here I come.”  “Nancy from Now On” has a great propulsive chorus with oohs and tinkling bells and pianos and Misty’s engaging falsetto.

I was introduced to this album by “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” which opens with the super catchy line, “Jeeeeesus Christ, girl.”  I love the big crashing drum sound he has here.  “I’m Writing a Novel” is a fun romp, with the great line “I’m writing a novel because it’s never been done before.”  “O I Long to Feel Your Arms Around Me” introduces a great organ sound.  It’s a full song at only 2 and a half minutes.

“Misty’s Nightmares 1 & 2” opens with a slide guitar and turns into a stomping song with more Ooohs and a great chorus.  “Only Son of the Ladiesman” has a great chorus with the fun couple: “I’m a steady hand, I’m a Dodgers fan.”  “This is Sally Hatchet” has cool guitar blasts and a great bridge.

“Well You Can Do It Without Me” is a countrified 2 minute stomper.  “Tee Pees 1-12” is a big stompin’ honkey tonk song with fiddles and slide guitar.  The disc ends with “Everyman Needs a Companion” a slow ballad with a great piano melody and a fun to sing along with verse and chorus.

I love the lyrics on this album, especially the song “Now I’m Learning to Love the War” a slow ballad with a great story:

Try not to think so much about
The truly staggering amount of oil that it takes to make a record
All the shipping, the vinyl, the cellophane lining, the high gloss
The tape and the gear

Try not to become too consumed
With what’s a criminal volume of oil that it takes to paint a portrait
The acrylic, the varnish, aluminum tubes filled with latex
The solvents and dye

Lets just call this what it is
The gentler side of mankind’s death wish
When it’s my time to go
Gonna leave behind things that won’t decompose

In addition to all of the great music on here, the CD packaging is fantastic with that great cover, done in a cardboard gatefold sleeve including two huge books full of words and drawings and lyrics and everything.  I’m really looking forward to his next release.

[READ: September 14, 2014] Grantland #10

Despite my being in the middle of reading several other things, I was looking for a short article to read the other night and grabbed my Grantland 10.  And, of course, once I started, I couldn’t stop. I put everything else on hold and blasted through this issue.

And so all of my loves and hates are the same with this issue.  I never know how anything they talk about nearly a year ago turned out, which stinks.  And yet I get so wrapped up in the writing that I don’t care.  I’m not sure what it is about the writing for Grantland that i enjoy so much.  It is casual but knowledgeable.  Often funny but not obnoxiously silly. And I suppose that now I feel like I’m in on all of the secret stuff they talk about so I’m part of the club.  I fear that if I were to ever go to the website I would get sucked into a black hole and never emerge.

I often wonder how they choose what goes into the book.  This issue has some new writers and the surprising absence of some regulars.  I wonder what went on there.  And as always, the book could use some editing and maybe actually listing the urls of the links that were once in the online version.  But I think I’m talking to deaf ears on that one.

This issue covers October-December 2013 (that’s ten-twelve months ago!  Some of this stuff feels ancient!)

(more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: FATHER JOHN MISTY-“Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” (2012).

This song is also on the list of NPR’s Top 50 songs of the year (so far).  It comes so far out of left field in terms of who the guy is and the way the music sounds that I can’t believe it made it to  their list.

Father John Misty is comprised of former Fleet Foxes dude J. Tillman.  I was bummed that the Foxes were not the original lineup anymore (although Tillman says he didn’t really want to be part of someone else’s vision, so that’s cool).  And if this is Tillman’s vision that  makes sense.

This is a simple guitar and drums kind of song;  There’s a ton of reverb (on the vocals, the guitars and especially the drums).  It has an incredibly retro feel.  It reminds me of someone like Pugwash, although it sounds nothing like them, really.  It feels like an older song (aside from the reverb, the guitar sounds very clean) and then the lyrics kick in: “Jesus Christ girl, what are people going to think”  And the song is all about death and cemeteries (“Someone’s gotta help me dig”).

I wasn’t sure about the song when I first listened, but then I couldn’t stop replaying it.  Yes the song is very simple–chord structures are pretty basic, but it feels so raw that it’s hard to stop listening–especially when the song starts to pick up more…instruments, and vocals, before it ends.

There’s a video for the song (in which Aubrey Plaza (from Parks and Rec) goes batshit crazy).  And the video version is a bit longer (a lengthy coda is added on).  Well, hell, here it is:

I will definitely have to hear more from this album.

[READ: June 23, 2012] “In Space No One Can Hear You Slay”

As I mentioned yesterday, The Guild was backed with a Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic for Free Comic Book Day.  I loved Buffy the show.  I loved Buffy the comics.  I loved the idea that Joss was keeping the series alive in the comic books.  And then somehow I fell behind in the series.  I haven’t really read much of Season 8 (some day…some day). So there was a little bit of a context issue for me here (very minor, but still there).

True context is kind of unnecessary here (except that I don’t know what Spike and Buffy are doing together–their past relationships are so complex, who knows where they may wind up).  Anyhow, as I said context is irrelevant because this issue takes place in…outer space.  That’s right, Spike suggest that Buffy go on a space vacation to see a nebula explode (what?).  Massive cerebral cortex confusion aside, this one-off does indeed see Buffy on a spaceship.  (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MEGAFAUN-“Find Your Mark” (2008).

After listening to the new Megafaun track, I checked the NPR archives.  They have this one song from their debut available for a listen as well.

It’s hard to believe that this is the same band.  Or perhaps I should say that a band can change a lot in three years.  This song begins as a three-part near-a capella barbershop/bar trio.  It reminds me in many ways of a Fleet Foxes track, except they seems more rowdy.  The song merges into a delicate guitar picking section with all of the voices “ba ba ba” ing.  Then, that guitar melody expands to an electric guitar and full band sound.

The introduction to the track (from the NPR DJ says that the album may not be everyone’s cup of tea.  But I like this track so much (even though it is so very different from their 2011 release), that I need to listen to more from this band.  Spotify, here I come. [Actually the album has some pretty crazy noises on it!].

[READ: August 20, 2011] “The Losing End”

This is a strange story about a man named Lamb.  The reason it is strange is because the middle of the story–the exciting part, the part I most enjoyed–is not really the point of the story, at least if the ending is to be believed.

As the story opens, Lamb has just been to his father’s wake.  He is feeling adrift so he goes to a parking lot to sit and think.  In addition to his father, Lamb is also thinking about his wife and his girlfriend.  I’m a little unclear exactly what is happening with his wife (Cathy) but he definitely trying to get time away from her to spend it with Linnie. While he is sitting there lost in thought, a young girl in an ill-fitting tube top approaches him. (more…)

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