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Alternative & Indie - Released June 16, 2017 | Nonesuch

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
Six years after Helplessness Blues, the Fleet Foxes have emerged from their burrow. These past six years don't seem to have deeply changed the DNA of this group of brilliant folk musicians from Seattle, or their obsession with vocal harmonies. With Crack-Up, Robin Pecknold (who voluntarily retired from the music world to return to university) seems to have no metaphysical problems in locating a point perfectly equidistant between Crosby Stills Nash & Young and the Beach Boys. Wreathed its habitual and almost-mystical halo of reverb, the Fleet Foxes' third album brings together the ample blessings of a Brian Wilson production job with a subtle use of harmonics that hasn't been heard since David Crosby recorded the wild If I Could Only Remember My Name sometime last century. Part way between bucolic ballad and semi-baroque flight of fancy, this luxuriantly-arranged folk music makes Crack-Up an inspired and impressive record. © MD/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released June 3, 2008 | Sub Pop Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 3, 2011 | Sub Pop Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released June 16, 2017 | Nonesuch

Booklet
Following a lengthy hiatus and some apparent soul-searching from bandleader Robin Pecknold, Fleet Foxes aim for dramatic reinvention on their cerebral third LP, Crack-Up. When they debuted in 2008, they were widely designated as torchbearers of the burgeoning indie folk movement, but there was always an academic element to the Seattle band's work that vaulted them into a class of their own. Their exultant vocal harmonies rose like a misty hybrid of the Beach Boys and Steeleye Span and their complex chamber pop arrangements recalled the autumnal splendor of the Zombies paired with the melodic complexity of early Yes. On the band's long-awaited third effort, it's the latter of those two references that jumps to the fore as they deliver what is easily their most progressive album to date. Named for an essay by F. Scott Fitzgerald and bearing references to Spanish painter Francisco Goya, the American Civil War, sociopolitical anxiety, and inner-band strife, Crack-Up is dense and difficult, but ultimately rewarding. At the album's vanguard is "I Am All That I Need/Arroyo Seco/Thumbprint Scar," an ambitious three-part suite in which the familiar strains of Fleet Foxes' trademark wall of harmonies become suddenly hijacked by crudely mumbled interludes and various forms of rhythmic and tonal dissonance. It's a method employed throughout Crack-Up's 11 tracks, which seem to zig and zag through zones of chaos, fellowship, and transcendence as Pecknold the scholar unveils his strange architecture in layers of detail and nuance. That the nearly nine-minute centerpiece, "Third of May/Ōdaigahara," was chosen as the album's lead single says something about the availability of easily digestible material on Crack-Up, and yet its aspirations are the glue that holds it all together. Orchestral, experimental, and more challenging than either of the band's previous releases, it's a natural fit for the Nonesuch label, whose heritage was built on such attributes. For Fleet Foxes, it represents a shift away from their more idyllic early days into a period of artistic growth and sophistication. © Timothy Monger /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released November 9, 2018 | Sub Pop Records

When Seattle's Fleet Foxes entered the musical conversation in 2008, their eponymous Sub Pop debut suddenly became a ubiquitous feature of the indie landscape. Its freshness and beauty were clearly something special and introduced the vision of talented frontman Robin Pecknold. Arriving at the vanguard of indie folk's big boom, the band's exultant harmonies, elegant arrangements, and winsome '60s-indebted aesthetic set them apart from their whistling, banjo-wielding contemporaries. They promptly established, then spent the next five years rutting out, the genre's tired template. Celebrating the tenth anniversary of their first Sub Pop release, this excellent four-disc collection compiles the sum of Fleet Foxes' early output from their 2006 formation to the smattering of B-sides and rarities that followed their debut. Appearing just one year after 2017's excellent but exceedingly complex Crack-Up LP, revisiting this material reveals the rare joy of those first recordings and what made songs like "Ragged Wood," "Quiet Houses," and "Sun Giant" so appealing. Pecknold's thematic mix of glowing optimism, empathetic love, and earthy enchantment felt genuine and his devotion to the autumnal tones of late-'60s classics like the Zombies' Odessey & Oracle and Fairport Convention's Liege & Lief simply drew more attention to the high quality of his own work. Bookending their two Sub Pop releases -- the Sun Giant EP and the Fleet Foxes LP, both released in 2008 -- are a very rare self-released 2006 EP and a collection of demos and other oddments. The former is notable for its more conventional indie rock tone and sounds very much like Pecknold finding his creative footing, which he seems to have done by its deeply harmonic final track, "Icicle Tusk." This EP also introduces Fleet Foxes' first pairing with influential Seattle producer Phil Ek (the Shins, Built to Spill) who would go on to helm their first two LPs and mix their third. The latter disc offers a unique look at Pecknold's folk influences from both sides of the Atlantic with the British traditional classic "False Knight on the Road" and the American murder ballad, "Silver Dagger." While both of those tracks saw limited release as B-sides, the fascinating basement demos for "Ragged Wood," "He Doesn't Know Why," and "English House" offer previously unheard sketches of those songs and are some of the highlights of this set. Fleet Foxes' longtime fans will likely have heard the bulk of this excellent set, but the rare cuts, early EP, and lovingly designed packaging with its unique photos and liner notes make it essential. © Timothy Monger /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 8, 2008 | Sub Pop Records

Fleet Foxes cover a lot of territory -- both musical and geographical -- on Sun Giant, their debut EP for Sub Pop. The band's close, pristine harmonies and spare arrangements are at once timeless and a breath of fresh air, sharing roots with '60s folk-rock, 2000s indie pop, and ageless traditional songs. Fleet Foxes feel like they're singing to, and for, themselves on the EP, particularly on the title track, which lingers on their harmonies before drifting off on an acoustic guitar melody. Even on "Drops in the River," which builds from similarly simple beginnings to big drums and plugged-in guitars, the gentle beauty of the Foxes' melodies remains the same. From "English House"'s sparkling autoharps to the dreamy, soft rock-tinged "Mykonos," Sun Giant plays like it was culled from a backpacker's travel journal. With this intimate, organic, and tantalizing first glimpse at their music, Fleet Foxes sound like they've been making music a lot longer than their ages would suggest. Call it old soul music. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 4, 2018 | Nonesuch

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 3, 2011 | Sub Pop Records

Props to Helplessness Blues for making the fretless zither cool again. On their second album, Fleet Foxes continue to take their music in unusual directions, creating a baroque folk-pop sound that hints at a number of influences -- Simon & Garfunkel, Fairport Convention, the Beach Boys -- but is too unique, too esoteric, too damn weird to warrant any direct links between the Seattle boys and their predecessors. It's still a downright gorgeous record, though, filled to the brim with glee club harmonies and the sort of stringed instruments that are virtually unknown to anyone who didn't go to music school (and even if you did, when's the last time you rocked out on the Marxophone?). Relying on obscure instrumentation can be a dangerous game, and Fleet Foxes occasionally run the risk of sounding too clever for their own good, as if the need to "out-folk" groups like Mumford & Sons and Midlake is more important than writing memorable, articulate folk tunes. But Helplessness Blues has the necessary songs to back it up, from the slow crescendos of the album-opening "Montezuma" to the sweeping orchestral arrangement of the encore number, "Grown Ocean." Robin Pecknold remains the ringleader of this Celtic circus. His is the only voice to cut through the thick, lush harmonies that Fleet Foxes splash across every refrain like paint, and his lyrics -- rife with allusions to the Bible, Dante the Magician, and the poetry of W.B. Yeats -- reach beyond the territory he occupied on the band’s first record, which painted simple geographical portraits with songs like "Sun It Rises," "Ragged Wood," "Quiet Houses," and "Blue Ridge Mountains." On Helplessness Blues, he's just as interested in the landscape of the human heart. Still, it's the music that stands out, and the band's acoustic folk/chamber pop combo makes every song sound like a grand tribute to back-to-the-land living. © Andrew Leahey /TiVo
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Rock - Released June 3, 2008 | Sub Pop Records

Borrowing from ageless folk and classic rock (and nicking some of the best bits from prog and soft rock along the way), on their self-titled debut album Fleet Foxes don't just master the art of taking familiar influences and making them sound fresh again, they give a striking sense of who they are and what their world is like. Their song titles reference the Blue Ridge Mountains -- never mind that they're actually from Seattle -- but it's the ease and skill with which they mix and match British and American folk and rock from the far and not too distant past that makes the band's music so refreshing. While this mix could be contrived or indulgent, Fleet Foxes use restraint, structuring their flourishes into three- and four-minute pop songs full of chiming melodies and harmonies that sound like they've been summoned from centuries of traditional songs and are full of vivid, universal imagery: mountains, birds, family, death. Despite drawing from so many sources, there's a striking purity to Fleet Foxes' sound. Robin Pecknold's voice is warm and sweet, with just enough grit to make phrases like "premonition of my death" sound genuine, and the band's harmonies sound natural, and stunning, whether they're on their own or supported by acoustic guitars or the full, plugged-in band. "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song" and "Meadowlarks" show just how much the Foxes do with the simplest elements of their music, but Fleet Foxes' best songs marry that purity with twists that open their sound much wider. As good as the Sun Giant EP was, Fleet Foxes saved many of their best songs for this album. "White Winter Hymnal" is remarkably beautiful, building from a vocal round into glorious jangle pop with big, booming drums that lend a sense of adventure as the spine-tingling melody lightens some of the lyrics' darkness ("Michael you would fall and turn the white snow red as strawberries in summertime"). The suite-like "Ragged Wood" moves from a galloping beat to sparkling acoustic picking, then takes a trippy detour before returning to a more thoughtful version of its main theme. "Quiet Houses" and "He Doesn't Know Why"'s driving pianos show off the band's flair for drama. Dazzling songs like these are surrounded by a few songs that find the band leaning a little more heavily on its influences. "Your Protector" nods to Zeppelin's misty, mournful side, and "Blue Ridge Mountains" is the kind of earthy yet sophisticated song CSNY would have been proud to call their own. But, even when the songs aren't as brilliant as Fleet Foxes' highlights, the band still sounds alluring, as on the lush interlude "Heard Them Stirring." Throughout the album, the band sounds wise beyond its years, so it's not really that surprising that Fleet Foxes is such a satisfying, self-assured debut. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 1, 2009 | Sub Pop Records

Alternative & Indie - Released March 10, 2017 | Nonesuch

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 4, 2018 | Nonesuch

Alternative & Indie - Released September 29, 2017 | Nonesuch

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