Posted Mar 30th, 2011 (1:40 pm) by Ross Condit
Music Player: 

Fleet Foxes have just announced the release of their long-awaited sophomore album, Helplessness Blues, due to drop on May 3rd. Since their debut they’ve become known for their tight multi-part harmonies and for creating lyrical masterpieces that weave a visual story worthy of Bob Dylan at his finest. Helplessness Blues is a more consistent album than their first (which I felt jumped around a lot, sometimes even within the same song), and it comes with a ‘60s sound that really works.

There are a handful of bands who’ve been trying to capture this '60s vibe recently. Not many do it well (think Iron & Wine, Band of Horses), but Seattle’s Fleet Foxes are among the best. The Foxes are comprised of Robin Pecknold (the soaring voice you hear in every Foxes song, guitars too), Skyler Skjelset (mandolin and guitars), Morgan Henderson (creates many of the arrangements and plays several instruments), Josh Tillman (drummer, vocals, arrangements too), Christian Wargo (bassist and vocals), and Casey Wescott (keys & vocals). Producer Phil Ek, who “discovered” the band and has been with them since helping them record their demo, did the recording and co-produced the album over the course of a year at multiple studios (the band takes the other co-producer credit).

A few tracks have snuck out so far, and we’ve got them for you below. On the title track, “Helplessness Blues” (the only downloadable single released so far), the lyric is extraordinarily cumbersome. It’s overly complicated and comes off as more prose than poetry. The song completely changes themes partway through and becomes two conjoined tales. Its sound reminds me of the Mamas and the Papas or, at times, Simon & Garfunkel—pure ‘60s folk-revival pop deliciousness. “Battery Kinzie” is more Fairport Convention-influenced, and “Bedouin Dress” is a country-tinged masterpiece with some more of that ‘60s flair, and again a little bit of Simon & Garfunkel coming through. All are lyrically intense, as we’ve come to expect from these guys. Several live bootlegs exist, so you’ll be able to listen through most of the album’s tracks if you know where to look. There’s some gorgeous music here. You won’t be disappointed.

The Foxes are kicking off the release event in Vancouver on April 30th with their first North American tour since 2009. Don’t worry, U.K. and European fans, you’ll get some love too. But don’t dawdle, many U.S. dates have already sold out.

Update: Peep the video for "Grown Ocean"

Helplessness Blues Track Listing

1. Montezuma
2. Bedouin Dress
3. Sim Sala Bim
4. Battery Kinzie
5. The Plains / Bitter Dancer
6. Helplessness Blues
7. The Cascades
8. Lorelai
9. Someone You'd Admire
10. The Shrine / An Argument
11. Blue Spotted Tail
12. Grown Ocean

2011 Fleet Foxes Tour
04.29 - Vancouver, BC @ The Vogue Theatre
04.30 - Vancouver, BC @ The Vogue Theatre
05.01 - Crystal Ballroom
05.02 - Seattle, WA @ Moore Theatre
05.03 - Seattle, WA @ Moore Theatre
05.05 - Oakland, CA @ Fox Theater
05.06 - San Diego, CA @ Spreckels Theatre
05.07 - Hollywood, CA @ Hollywood Palladium
05.08 - Tucson, AZ @ Rialto Theatre
05.10 - Austin, TX @ Stubb's Waller Creek
05.11 - Dallas, TX @ Palladium Ballroom
05.13 - Nashville, TN @ Ryman Auditorium
05.14 - Atlanta, GA @ The Tabernacle
05.15 - Washington, DC @ DAR Constitution Hall
05.17 - Boston, MA @ Orpheum Theatre
05.18 - New York, NY @ The United Palace Theatre
05.19 - New York, NY @ The United Palace Theatre
05.21 - Upper Darby, PA @ Tower Theatre
05.25 - Berlin, Germany @ Astra
05.26 - Dachau Summer of Music / Munich, Germany
05.28 - Primavera Sound / Barcelona, Spain
05.30 - Bataclan / Paris, France
05.31 - London, UK @ Hammersmith Apollo
06.01 - London, UK @ Hammersmith Apollo
06.02 - London, UK @ Hammersmith Apollo
06.23 - Wolverhampton, UK @ Civic Hall
06.25 - Belfast, Ireland @ Custom House Square
06.26 - Cork, Ireland @ Live at the Marquee
06.28 - Manchester, UK @ Manchester Apollo
06.29 - Edinburgh, UK @ Corn Exchange
07.01 - St. Austell, UK @ Eden Sessions
07.03 - Werchter, Belgium @ Rock Werchter
07.06 - Poznan, Poland @ Malta Festival
07.08 - Lisbon, Portugal @ Alive Festival
07.10 - Turku, Finland @ Ruisrock
08.11 - Oslo, Norway @ Oya Festival
08.12 - Gothenburg, Sweden @Way Out West
08.13 - Rees-Haldern, Germany @ Haldern Pop Festival
08.20 - Brecon Beacons, UK @ Green Man Festival

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