Was anyone expecting this mini-summer-of-love revival (minus the bad sandals, bad acid and hopefully, patchouli)? The 1960s are back, thanks to new albums by Beck, former Ladyton bassist Pop Levi and a seemingly increasing number of musicians who have discovered AM-friendly folk harmonies. At the forefront of the trend, and by far the best, is a five-piece Seattle band named Fleet Foxes, so young they probably listened to grammy's Simon and Garfunkel albums. No wonder Rolling Stone, the self-appointed homage to boomer culture, raved about their debut LP. The Guardian called it "a landmark in American music, an instant classic." Not sure if it warrants that level of gushing, but those who find Devendra Benhart too wacky or Plants and Animals' seven-minute songs too epic will appreciate Fleet Foxes' straightforward, beautiful four-part harmonizing and catchy melodies that sound as if they were spawned in the early autumn woods. This is campfire territory, especially the bluegrass mountain-climbing opener "Sun It Rises," that harkens back to perennial cottage favourite Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. "White Water Hymnal" is a stand-out, too, thanks to big drum beats and Beach Boy vocals. Even on quieter numbers like "Oliver James," there's confidence, as if these lads have been making music alongside their icons all along.
--Sue Carter Flinn