Grace Notes is a weekly exploration by Jason Morehead and Drew Dixon of signs of common grace in the music world. We hope to alert you to wonderful music, some of which will be spiritual in nature but all of which will be unique and worthy of your attention. Each week we will share brief reviews of albums worthy of your attention and maybe a video or two.
Drew’s Picks of the week:
NPR is streaming Fleet Foxes new album Helplessness Blues which comes out Tuesday. If you liked their self-titled debut, you will enjoy their new album. Everything that made their debut interesting is back in full force: seamless vocals from frontman Robin Pecknold, delightful three-part harmonies, meandering guitars, and hope-filled lyrics. Don’t let the title fool you, this is no blues album–the bright quality that infused their previous album is apparent from start to finish. Ironically, “Helplessness Blues” is perhaps the brightest and most hopeful moment on the album. If anything is markedly different about this album its the accompaniment which seems to have become nearly as interesting as the group’s rich vocals. Given how much the band has been praised for their vocal prowess that is saying a lot. “Bedouin Dress” and “Sim Sala Bim” do much to help shed the perception that Fleet Foxes is that band with compelling vocals. It will be interesting to see what kind of critical reception Helplessness Blues receives but on my first couple of listens I find it to have more depth than their debut.
What a week for free music–if there expectations for Fleet Foxes were high, they were probably even higher for Brooklyn trio, The Antlers whose second album, Burst Apart releases May 10. You can listen to the new album in its entirety here. While perhaps not the commercial success that Fleet Foxes debut was, The Antler’s debut album Hospice was a critical success that spawned a devoted following expecting a lot from their newest. This is another album that will be interesting to see how fans and critics react to because its much more diverse than Hospice which I love. Burst Apart traverses a lot of territory. And the walls of sound, impressive guitar effects, and arresting vocals from lead Peter Silberman.