Saturday, January 07, 2012
If you like Fleet Foxes, thank Crosby, Stills & Nash
The term "supergroup" didn't quite exist yet in 1969, when Crosby, Stills & Nash released their debut album. But if it had, they certainly would have qualified. All veterans of other successful rock bands of the early and mid-60s, the three founding members of CSN (they would not add Neil Young to the roster until later that year) pioneered a lush, vocally harmonic, folk-rock sound that continues to influence the most cutting-edge bands today.
Case in point? Fleet Foxes.
Listen first to "Bedouin Dress" off of Fleet Foxes' 2011 release, Helplessness Blues:
Listen to the acoustic guitar, the ever-expanding harmonies, the melody and the lyrics reminiscent of an old English folk song.
Now compare it to CSN's "Helplessly Hoping" from their self-titled debut in 1969:
The arrangement is a little more spare, yes. But you'll hear the same acoustic guitar, and most importantly you'll hear the same hauntingly gorgeous vocal harmonies, harmonies that were first adapted and perfected by this group. CSN builds toward a musical peak at "We are one... We are for each other," using the power of stacked vocal harmonies. Similarly, Fleet Foxes build toward a musical peak at the line "One Day at Innisfree," opting to drop out all the instruments at that point and let the vocal harmonies ring out a cappella.
Because in both cases, when vocals are this beautiful, nothing else is necessary.