Spin This: May 3
Fleet Foxes–Helplessness Blues: The meteoric rise of Seattle’s Fleet Foxes is somewhat astounding given the time period. Their music is unabashedly antiquated, drawing from both choral and traditional folk traditions. The songs themselves are complex, employing multi-part harmonies and challenging melodies that are pretty hard to sing along to. Yet it’s a testament to their skill that they’re able to turn it all into big-tent pop: the group headlines festivals and they’ve rarely gotten a bad review in their short history. Helplessness Blues, the group’s second album, might just send them even higher into the stratosphere.
To top their self-titled debut, Fleet Foxes decided to keep what they did best–folk-pop–but add some darkness to all the golden harmonies. Lead singer Robin Pecknold sings constantly about coming and going, both literally and figuratively. With the rapid rise of the band, constant touring seems to have taken a toll, and the lyrics reflect that. Fleet Foxes are willing to rise above the mystique they cultivated on their first record. Closer “Grown Ocean” strips away instrumentation and the ever-present reverb to highlight just those voices, offering a nice ending to one of the best records of the year. Take a listen to the title track below.
Beastie Boys–Hot Sauce Committee Part 2: When Adam Yauch announced his throat cancer in 2009, it seemed like the end of the Beastie Boys. The venerable New York hip-hop group had already been releasing albums to diminishing returns since the late ’90s, so it seemed like it was time to retire the name. Yet Yauch beat his cancer, and the Beastie Boys beat the naysayers. Hot Sauce is a stunning return to form, finding the trio of fortysomethings pushing boundaries once again with a gritty record. Funk, soul, punk, reggae, and rock find their way into the mix, mostly in the form of live instrumentation but also through some heady samples that the Boys always seem to dig up out of nowhere. Take a listen to “Make Some Noise” below.