#9 on the 2011 Musical Bacon Calendar
Helplessness Blues by Fleet Foxes
If you have been reading the Bacon Calendar for the last couple years, or have read my various articles over the past few, then Helplessness Blues showing up on this year’s calendar is about as unexpected as a sunrise at dawn. You could say I’ve got a wee bit of a Fleet Foxes problem. If you were friends with me in late 2007, early 2008, you most likely got annoyed with me talking about Robin Pecknold and his band of merrymen. I felt pretty special, having caught these guys very early in their career and watched them explode over the years to where they are now, and I wanted everyone else to join me.
After overdosing on the band for about 2 years, I quit cold turkey. I’d had enough hippy bullshit and I wanted some rock & roll. OK, that’s not really true, as I still continued to listen to other hippy bullshit. I just couldn’t play the Fleet Foxes any more. When Helplessness Blues was announced earlier this year, and the title-song pre-released as a single, I got excited to hear the band that I’d fallen in and out of love with do something new. But then I heard the album, and immediately felt pretty meh about it.
I felt the album was lacking feeling, originality, something new. It just was. So I shelved it, only to find myself a few days later sitting in the fifth row at the Moore Theater watching the band perform these new songs:
The band sounded great. They played a wide range of songs from across their newly-expanded songlist. Pecknold’s voice didn’t sound quite as powerful as I can remember it sounding in previous shows, but that could be due to the more-cavernous venue, or possibly that he has learned to work on saving his voice to stand up over the course of a long run of daily performances. This was also the longest set I‘d even seen the band play.
But I still wasn’t hooked. The vibe was off. I just couldn’t get back into the groove, and I couldn’t put my finger on why that was. Three months went by without me giving the new album another chance. But then I once again had tickets in hand to see them live. And this time I had a little bit of time to prepare, so I diligently listened to the new album (which is usually how I prepare for a show — listening to the most recent album from the upcoming band on repeat for a week or two). And then it sunk in. Turns out I hadn’t given the album enough of a chance.
That, mixed with seeing the band on the larger Paramount stage, me sitting in the front-row balcony, totally changed my opinion of the album and my love for the band. I’m no longer touting the band to everyone I know — I don’t need to. But here I am, touting this beautiful album. If you haven’t heard it yet, do so. But prepare yourself. Be ready to have to listen to the thing 5 or 6 times before it finds a spot in your brain. Then you won’t be able to put it down.
10. The Youth Die Young by Mad Rad
11. Last Night On Earth by Noah and the Whale
12. Codes and Keys by Death Cab For Cutie
13. Valley of the Headless Men by Ravenna Woods
14. Hot Sauce Committee Part Two by Beastie Boys
15. James Blake by James Blake
16. Hysterical by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
17. An Argument with Myself by Jens Lekman
18. The Whole Love by Wilco
19. My Goodness by My Goodness
20. My Head is an Animal by Of Monsters and Men
21. Gloss Drop by Battles
22. Showroom of Compassion by CAKE
23. A New Kind of House EP by Typhoon
24. EP by Grouplove
25. Fan Chosen Covers (Best of) by Eef Barzelay
26. TKOL RMX 1234567 by Radiohead
27. Organ Music Not Virbraphone Like I’d Hoped by Moonface
28. Heavy Boots & Underwoods by Ben Fisher
29. The Rip Tide by Beirut
30. Collapse Into Now by R.E.M.
31. I Am Very Far by Okkervil River