Fleet Foxes — First Collection: 2006~2009 (June 3, 2008/2018) Pamela MÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃéndez ÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃâ Time (22 Feb 2019)•    The box set collects the pure pleasures of Fleet Foxes’ early years including a smattering of B~sides and rarities that reveal the band’s long~running beatific spirit.
•     This special edition First Collection 2006~2009 honours the tenth anniversary of Fleet Foxes’ eponymous debut album. The vinyl set features content spanning the early days of the band’s career, including the self~titled full~length debut album on 12” vinyl, as well as the Sun Giant EP on 10” vinyl, and the first vinyl releases of both the very limited~edition, previously only self~released EP on 10”, and B~sides & Rarities on 10”. In addition to its musical offerings, the special edition will feature a 32~page booklet with show flyers, lyrics, and artwork from band’s early history.
Location: Seattle, IL
Studio: Avast! Recording Company and London Bridge Studio, Seattle
Album release: June 3, 2008/2018
Record Label: Bella Union and Subpop
Duration: 39:42+18:51+22:39+22:28 => 103:40
01. Sun it Rises   3:14
02. White Winter Hymnal   2:29
03. Ragged Wood   5:09
04. Tiger Mountain Peasant Song   3:31
05. Quiet Houses   3:34
06. He Doesn’t Know Why   3:23
07. Heard Them Stirring   3:04
08. Your Protector   4:12
09. Meadowlarks   3:14
10. Blue Ridge Mountains   4:28
11. Oliver James   3:24
01. Sun Giant   2:14
02. Drops in the River   4:13
03. English House   4:41
04. Mykonos   4:35
05. Innocent Son   3:08
01. She Got Dressed   3:29
02. In the Hot Hot Rays   3:05
03. Anyone Who’s Anyone   3:46
04. Textbook Love   3:25
05. So Long to the Headstrong   4:16
06. Icicle Tusk   4:38
01. False Knight on The Road   3:44
02. Silver Dagger   3:20
03. White Lace Regretfully   2:31
04. Isles   3:05
05. Ragged Wood (transition basement sketch)   1:47
06. He Doesn’t Know Why (basement demo)   3:13
07. English House (basement demo)   3:58
08. Hot Air (basement sketch)   0:50
∇     All songs written by Robin Pecknold.
Fleet Foxes
•   Robin Pecknold — lead vocals, guitar (2006~present)
•   Skyler Skjelset — guitar, mandolin, vocals (2006~present)
•   Casey Wescott — keyboards, mandolin, vocals (2006~present)
•   Christian Wargo — bass guitar, guitar, vocals (2008~present)
•   Morgan Henderson — upright bass, guitar, woodwinds, violin, percussion, saxophone (2010~present)
Touring members:
•   Matt Barrick — drums, percussion (2017~present)
Former members:
•   Bryn Lumsden — bass guitar (2006)
•   Craig Curran — bass guitar, vocals (2006~2008)
•   Nicholas Peterson — drums, percussion, vocals (2006~2008)
•   Josh Tillman — drums, percussion, vocals (2008~2012)
Additional instrumental personnel:
•   Gwen Owen — flute on “Your Protector”
Production personnel:
•   Phil Ek — producer, engineer, mixer
•   Ed Brooks — mastering
•   Sasha Barr — design
•   Dusty Summers — design
•¬      The liner notes do not state which instruments the band members play. Former drummer J. Tillman joined the group after recordings had been completed, but before the album was released.
by Stephen M. Deusner, JUNE 6 2008. Score: 9.0
•¬      Following their spectacular Sun Giant EP, Seattle~based Fleet Foxes’ full~length debut has a lot to live up to. Luckily, it more than delivers the goods: Incorporating a broad spectrum of styles — from Appalachian folk and AM country to classic rock and SoCal pop — Fleet Foxes create a personal synthesis of the music of their peers, their parents, and even their grandparents.
•¬      Fleet Foxes may have a firm grasp on rock and folk history, but they never play to their record collection. Rather than revive a particular scene or re~create a lost sound, the Seattle quintet cherrypick their ideas from a broad spectrum of styles, pulling in Appalachian folk, classic rock, AM country, and SoCal pop to create a personal synthesis of the music of their peers, their parents, and even their grandparents.
•¬      The band didn’t leave town to record Fleet Foxes, yet it sounds like it could have been recorded anywhere in the United States — Austin, Minneapolis, Chicago, Brooklyn, Louisville, or more likely some clearing in the woods. That placelessness constitutes an active effacement, considering that Seattle has been a locus for alternative music for nearly two decades. The five~piece is thoroughly embedded in that scene: Their ranks include current and former members of Crystal Skulls, Pedro the Lion, and Seldom. Furthermore, to produce the sessions that created the Sun Giant EP and this debut LP, they hired Phil Ek, best known for his work with Modest Mouse, Built to Spill, and the Shins. Nevertheless, theirs is a studiously rural aesthetic, eschewing urban influences and using reverb like sepia~tone to suggest something much older and more rustic than it really is. The album opens with a short tune (titled “Red Squirrel” on early leaks but not listed on the CD) that could be a field recording sung by a small~town congregation 50 years ago. It ushers us into Fleet Foxes’ old world; after a few bars, the song darts into the heraldic “Sun It Rises”, which sure enough sounds like someone’s idea of a sunrise over an evergreen mountain. But they’re not done yet: Just as the song fades, it rises into a quiet coda that previews two more elements of their sound — the patient guitar lick on “Blue Ridge Mountains” and the vocal harmonies that color numerous songs on the record. All that’s missing are the crackles and hisses of an old LP. (Fortunately, Sub Pop is issuing it on vinyl.)
•¬      What follows is surprisingly full and wide ranging, almost as much as the Bruegel painting that graces the album’s cover. Skye Skjelset’s guitar roams wherever it pleases, while drummer Nicholas Peterson keeps the songs in check, allowing the band to move freely but not wander too far into the woods. A flute, half~submerged in the mix, adds lurking menace to the album’s most intense jam, “Your Protector”, and Casey Wescott’s staccato piano rhythm runs through “Blue Ridge Mountains”, heightening the momentum of the chorus.
by Larry Fitzmaurice, NOVEMBER 10 2018; Score: 8.1
•¬      Fleet Foxes’ entrée to the greater world — 2008’s Sun Giant EP and the self~titled debut from that same year — had an immediate impact on both indie and overground music at large. Critics adored Seattle singer~songwriter Robin Pecknold’s folk~pop project at a time when most of big~ticket indie’s more rocky and rustic fare was coming from the confines of Brooklyn; a considerable fanbase amassed seemingly out of thin air, coffee~shop playlists took to his breezy melodic grandeur like a barista to oat milk, and a “real~music” revival on the Billboard charts roiled on for several years after, with acts ranging from Mumford & Sons and the Lumineers to “American Idol” winner Phillip Phillips reaching for the folk~pop brass ring.
•¬      The instant success of these records was apparent to nearly everyone — except Pecknold himself. “Those are failures,” Pecknold told Pitchfork about Fleet Foxes’ first two Sub Pop releases, just five months after the release of Fleet Foxes. “I can hear every little thing that I would change.” Speaking alongside then~Fleet Foxes member Josh Tillman — who split from the band soon after the release of the 2011 follow~up Helplessness Blues — he professed admiration for the singularity of future tour mate Joanna Newsom while stating his belief that his band isn’t “anywhere close to where it should be musically...The sooner we can get started on another album the better. I don’t want to take three years off.”
•¬      As it turned out, he’d take three anyway; and Helplessness Blues indeed represented a massive leap forward when it came to Pecknold’s talent for musical arrangement and personal, image~rich songwriting. That record and last year’s dark and quixotic Crack~Up are so far removed from the pure pleasures of Fleet Foxes’ earlier outings that they practically sound like the work of a different band. So it makes sense that Sun Giant and Fleet Foxes have been packaged as part of First Collection 2006~2009, which also includes Fleet Foxes’ little~heard debut EP from 2006, a smattering of B~sides and rarities, and an array of photographs capturing the band’s early years.
•¬      In fleshing out the project’s late~2000s era, First Collection also serves as a clear delineation between Fleet Foxes’ auspicious beginnings and the fascinating, complicated~sounding music they’ve become known for today. It’s newly rewarding to revisit Sun Giant and Fleet Foxes 10 years after their initial release. Granted, both records have been so perpetually in~the~air that coming into fresh contact with them might seem as simple of an act as intaking oxygen, a qualifier that only further highlights the easy pleasures contained within.
•¬      Recorded with clarity and precision by Pacific Northwest production vet Phil Ek, it’s still remarkable how fully~formed the songs on Sun Giant and Fleet Foxes are. The sound of both releases — harmony~drenched and folk~indebted indie, equally capable of sounding sunlit or stormy — are similar enough to consider them a singular document, and together they represent some of the most strikingly tuneful indie of the previous decade. There’s little hint of what was to come in the band’s discography, save for flashes of mercurial moodiness (the multi~suite darkness of “Mykonos,” “Your Protector”’s foreboding woodwinds and wordless outro) that represent Pecknold’s affinity for on~a~dime tonal shifts.
•¬      Ek also handled the production of The Fleet Foxes, the ultra~limited~press (only 50 copies, sold locally) 2006 debut EP featuring a pre~Sun Giant lineup of Bryn Lumsden on bass and Nicholas Peterson handling drums/percussion. In a 2008 Rolling Stone profile of the band, Ek told Austin Scaggs that “It was obvious [Pecknold] had talent coming out of his ass” after first hearing the band’s music; although The Fleet Foxes undoubtedly stands in the shadow of its immediate predecessors, it’s easy to hear what caught Ek’s ear in its six songs, more explicitly rock~y while still possessing loads of full~throated charm. Pecknold’s seemingly effortless ability of writing mood~shifting transitions stands out most here; “She Got Dressed” moves from whispered vocals and fingerpicked guitar to full~band swagger, while “In the Hot Hot Rays” bookends a cascading, forceful midsection with gentle drum fills and airy guitar lines.
•¬      The B~Sides and Rarities pulls together odds and ends surrounding the band’s inaugural Sub Pop releases, along with a few early demos and sketches. If you’re the type to dig through UK~only B~sides and one~offs, it’s likely you’ve heard some of these songs before: “Isles” and a cover of the traditional British folk song “False Knight on the Road” were B~sides on the respective 7” single releases of “White Winter Hymnal,” and “Mykonos” while the unfinished “White Lace Regretfully” was included on the accompanying 10” to his sister and manager Aja Pecknold’s limited~run The Unified Field literary journal. Also included is Pecknold’s take on American folk traditional “Silver Dagger,” which made the rounds under his since~dormant White Antelope project.
•¬      But the raw~material demos that close out B~Sides and Rarities count as the collection’s greatest revelations, affording a work~in~progress intimacy to the creative gestation behind songs that already feel as familiar as the back of one’s hand. The “transition basement sketch” version of Fleet Foxes’ “Ragged Wood” zeroes in on the song’s soaring back half, isolating a few unadorned acoustic guitars and a stripped~down vocal take from Pecknold accompanied by some endearingly wobbly harmonizing; closing sketch “Hot Air” is the briefest track included here — clocking in around three~quarters of a minute — but nonetheless offers an alluring fog of unexplored ambiance.
•¬      The “basement demos” of Fleet Foxes’ “He Doesn’t Know Why” and Sun Giant’s “English House” center around rambling placeholder vocals, the former taking on a previously unheard melodic shape and possessing a shaggy looseness that stands opposite to the original’s controlled bursts of melodic steam. It’s practically a new song crafted out of the skeleton of a clear standout from this era, highlighting the inherent value of First Collection 2006~2009 beyond fan service: catching Fleet Foxes’ beatific spirit in a new light can feel just like hearing them for the first time.
•¬   https://pitchfork.com/ 
FB: https://www.facebook.com/FleetFoxes/