Wednesday, January 21, 2009

My Playlist

I've been listening to just two things lately: Antony and the Johnsons and Fleet Foxes. I can't really get behind anything else. And I realized something last night: It's a return to musicianship.

I won't hit you over the head with Antony praises, so will focus on the warm and wonderful Fleet Foxes who performed on Saturday Night Live this past weekend. Aside from obsessively listening to everything I can get my hands on, I don't know anything about them. Watching them closely in their ridiculously taut turn on SNL, I imagined them as choir boys, combining their love of choral arrangements with their adoration of Bob Dylan and other greats of the 1970s folk-rock era. They crank out harmonies harder than a Beyonce loop and remind me of a bearded barbershop quintet. While the album is sweeping and rich, Fleet Foxes has gained a loyal following because of their incredible live performance. It's all effortless, headvoices erupting gently atop banjo licks and thumping drums. Click that link above to see what I mean.

Listening to them, I get the same feeling I do from Antony - a borderline religious experience, like church music. Typically lyrics are integral to my enjoyment of a song, but these two artists in particular create sounds that transcend words.

Their first full-length opens with a bluegrassy a capella introduction to the song "Sun It Rises". Vocals layer upon each other until the song ends up in some kind of gorgeous jam session. Each song has that live off the floor sort of feeling, not a series of private recordings mixed together on a Mac, but rather a performance caught on tape. Whether or not it is that, it reads that way, which is enough for me. Each song is dynamic and thorough, the forty minute album seemingly sapping every ounce of worth from every element on the record, each guitar and vocal scrutinized as if by a clever CSI. Because of this, you want to listen again and again to catch and absorb every tempo shift, every key change, every mid-song swell and every quiet whisper. Perfect for the deep-freeze, snag this album.

UPDATE: Jory brought this incredible performance to my attention. As he says, the real magic begins at about 2:30. Watch!


  1. You need to see this video of them performing impromptu in an abandoned wing of the Grand Palais in Paris -- the real magic begins around 2:30.

  2. !!!
    Thanks for this. Beautiful. I'm going to add it to the post.

  3. Brilliant.
    I love the folksy choral nature of their music. Their instrumentation is wonderful and they are all fantastic real.

  4. I never got into the FF. Maybe I should have? This is a compelling argument in their favor.