Daily Archives: May 2, 2011

Fleet Foxes “Helplessness Blues” [ALBUM REVIEW]

Two years ago I was introduced to this band, Fleet Foxes.  I hated them.  No, I didn’t hate them, I loathed them and then I hated them.  Honestly, the most feverish and extreme peer pressure could not get me to like this band.  Pay me 20 bucks to listen to one of their songs and of course I would take it, but I would hate every minute of it.  They were too “indie” for their own good in my opinion and even though they arrived on the scene to great admiration and gained massive amounts of “indie cred” very quickly I wasn’t ready to play for their team.  It was too much of the same thing.  I guess you could say I didn’t get it.  I didn’t get the ridiculous amounts reverb, un-human harmonies, it bordered on something awesome maybe, but it drove me crazy and I left it alone.  I think it was to calm.  I definitely couldn’t put my finger on it as you can see.  (Those of you reading my blogs if you bring up Lord Huron, which is basically what I just described I will cut you down like a big tree. Hold you’re horses.  I’m getting to my point.)

It’s impossible for people to like all music and be agreeable that everything they listen to is pure gold.  People can also change and their tastes can change, and mine has.  “Helplessness Blues” is the newest offering from indie darlings Fleet Foxes and it’s excellent with a capitol EXCEL.  There I said it.  The record will be on shelves tomorrow and I’ll be in line to buy it.

Fleet Foxes – Bedouin Dress

Yes this record has all the great sweeping, airy and earthy harmonies the Foxes have come to be known for.  “Helplessness Blues” also has a great subtly to it which is what drew me back to this band in the first place.  Its gentle.  It’s sweet and quiet.  I guess I would go so far as to say it is clear, whatever that means.  The light acoustic guitar tones, shakers, loose snares, insanely reverbed guitars all compliment the vocals which are the star of the show.  I smell a title track…

Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

The lyrics are breathy and remind me of a young Crosy, Stills and Nash living in Laurel Canyon enjoying nature and the earth.  I don’t want to call these guys hippies because I wouldn’t wish that title on my worst enemy, but the songs have a very organic and “hippy-ish” feel to them so I guess I’ll leave it at that.  In this case its not a bad thing because these songs are lyrically complex and they paint vivid pictures in my mind.  More popular bands these days seem to write their lyrics with crayons while Fleet Foxes are in the middle of the woods writing with new quill pens they plucked from a goose at an organic farm in upstate New York.  That was a stupid statement, but my point is they are great lyricists and it shows on this record.

Fleet Foxes – Lorelai

I’ll end this by saying sometimes its good to take a break from certain things.  When you come back to them, which is the case here, you have a new appreciation for it.  It took me two years to listen to Fleet Foxes again and I’m glad I did.  I now trust the thousands of people who help sell out every Fleet Foxes show, they are there for a good reason.

I went back and listened to their debut self titled release and I didn’t hate that either.  As for the band I hope they read this (they won’t) and breathe a sigh of relief because they gained at least one fan with this new release.  For my preachy moment of the week I’ll say go into your iTunes library or whereever and pull something up that you think you hated 2 years ago and listen to it again.  You might just like it.  Especially if it’s Fleet Foxes.

As always here’s the last track from Fleet Foxes newest release (due out tomorrow 5/3/11) “Helplessness Blues”.

Fleet Foxes – Grown Ocean

Fleet Foxes are currently on tour although it looks like every show is virtually sold out.  Tour Page is HERE if you need proof.  They are playing the Pitchfork Festival this summer in Chicago as well.

You can pre-order “Helplessness Blues” HERE. (or just wait ’till tomorrow and buy it.

By: Steve Rippin | Beat-Play Ambassador Los Angeles | @stevewithMWL|Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC

Goot – “Pretty Eyes” [VIDEO]

Music videos are in a weird place right now.  No one really airs them, and as artists make less and less money, the bells and whistles of slick promotional materials become harder to justify.  Can’t knock it; that’s how it should be.  A musician’s music should always come first, but as a guy who loves the artform and enjoys making them, it’s kind of sad.  Artists still want nice videos, they just don’t want them to cost anything either, leaving us film/video/moving picture makers constantly challenged to turn out eye-catching work for free or with minimal resources.   The bright side is that the people who are left doing it are as passionate as the musicians.  We’re a slightly disturbed bunch, ready to put our rent on the line to do what we love.

This ongoing column will highlight videos for/by/with/from independent bands and directors making the most of what they have to kick your eyes and ears out yo’ head and earn a spot on your Twitter feed.

Narrative: Alex Goot meets a wide-eyed faerie and squires her through an episode of Dawson’s Creek.

Performance: Goot backlit at a piano.  It’s revealed he’s playing to the faerie at the end.  Meh.

Song: Cheez-Whiz pop.  For crackers, etc.  As far as talented youngins go though, Goot is one of the best.  He almost makes “Fireflies” bearable.  Almost.

He also plays all his own instruments and produces all his own tracks:

Kid’s been in the game since MySpace was popular (learn more about that here) and has not slowed down.  When the industry comes knocking, he’s going to make an amazing songwriter and producer if nothing else.

Why You Should Watch It: Because holy crap we live in a day and age where a camera available at Best Buy can be pointed at just about anything and make it look like   It’s a little miracle called the Rebel t2i, and along with its older brothers the 7D and 5D, you’ll be seeing its name in this column pretty often so click here and learn a little about the camera line changing micro-budget videomaking.  Granted, director Kurt Schneider has a solid eye and knows how to use locations, available light and attractive people to his advantage.  Images like the ones at 1:03, 1:18, and 3:23 don’t happen by accident.  They’re not beautiful in the “we spent thirty minutes composing this frame” way, but they feel honest.  They pluck at a nostalgic place in our brains, give us the feeling we’ve been there, like a handheld Norman Rockwell. The budgetary limitations are obvious – not everything is lit well, and there are occasionally double and triple shadows that look cheap – but for the most part, it’s a cute doc-style video that features some prettier than average pictures and will play well to its target audience.

Chris Cullari | Beat-Play Ambassador Los Angeles |@Chris_Cullari | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC |