… cut deep to avoid thermal detection

by Chris Bertram on May 5, 2011

The estimable Flying Rodent “has a post on”:http://flyingrodent.blogspot.com/2011/05/cons-and-conspiraloons.html the people who are slagging off Adam Curtis in the wake of the Bin Laden killing. The scene he refers to of Rumsfeld and Russert at 20′ 30″ of the video is priceless. Watch and enjoy.

Fleet Foxes “Helplessness Blues”

by John Holbo on May 5, 2011

The new Fleet Foxes album, Helplessness Blues [amazon], is just great! Pitchfork gives it 8.8. I give it three bus stops up. That’s how many bus stops I went past mine, giving it a first listen. Favorite track at this stage is “Lorelai”, and someone has already made a YouTube video for it, using old San Francisco footage. Which works quite nicely. (Guess it’s the ‘old news’ theme.) It looks like NPR has a full stream of the whole album. The mp3 album is only $3.99 at the moment, so I’d snatch it up, were I you. [UPDATE: sorry, you missed the sale.]

Somehow there’s this review meme that Fleet Foxes is coolly uncool. Pitchfork: “Their bright folk-rock sound wasn’t exactly “cool,” but that was sort of the point– it’s familiar in the most pleasing way, lacking conceit or affectation. Their expression of their love for music (and making music) was refreshing three years ago, and that sort of thing never gets old.” Stereogum: “Helplessness Blues is a deeply uncool album. If you played it for your dad he’d either say, “Finally,” or he’d laugh and put on some Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Simon & Garfunkel, Cat Stevens, maybe even America if you stuck around. Robin Pecknold, Fleet Foxes’ singer and songwriter knows how unhip this music is.”

That doesn’t seem right to me at all. Fleet Foxes sounds to me like growing up on Radiohead transmogrified into a kind of flat, plainsong-y folk choral style. Radiohead is vocally flat/affectless and instrumentally droney and tick-tock yet also emotionally soaring; so is a lot of folk music. So you can map Radiohead-y forms and stylings onto folk-y or country-ish patterns and get something that sounds quite contemporary. If you don’t play it for laughs (seriously, click that link) you can play it for sheer beauty, which gets you Fleet Foxes, sounding quite contemporary. If you held a gun to Vampire Weekend’s head and told them to play folk music, they might sound like some of the brighter, warmer Fleet Foxes tracks. Like “Sim Sala Bim”. Which, come to think of it, sort of reminds me of the Beatles, “Two of Us”. And could be construed as Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young-ish.

If you wanted to compare Fleet Foxes to something 70’s, I guess the smooth and flat but strong and soaring vocal style of Roberta Flack would seem less inapt, comparison-wise, than Simon and Garfunkel or America. But I don’t think Fleet Foxes sounds much like Roberta Flack. The Pitchfork review also compares them to the Zombies, which I could buy. I love the Zombies.

UPDATE: OK, I take it back. All that “Apples in the summer” stuff in “The Shrine/An Argument” sounds like Crosby, Still, Nash and Young.