Saturday, August 9, 2008

Bands That Sound the Same:

Fleet Foxes and Grizzly Bear

Ok, I'll be the first to admit it: I don't really think that these two bands are 100% confusable, but there is enough debate that questions of "Who would win in a fight: Fleet Foxes or Grizzly Bear?" have popped up on the internet. Both utilize airy harmonious effects and manipulate sound with various electronics, but Fleet Foxes follow a more standard musical construction in their songs than Grizzly Bear (which is probably why Fleet Foxes have been compared to the Beach Boys and Grizzly Bear has not). Grizzly Bear is definitely more experimental and I'd even go so far enough to say more daring in their musical choices than Fleet Foxes.

My love of Grizzly Bear was sparked in such a manner that I listened to them non stop for about 2 weeks after first encountering them. Here's an excerpt from my old blog the night after I first heard them:

"They had this way about them that was just so laid back that it was perfect for me. Basically, Grizzly Bear made me imagine an alternative Earth where music is just one of the most natural ways to exist as a human, and in that world, they were just apt to walking around without purpose in some sort of fantasy farmland or field where they would just sing. I know that may not make sense to you, but it does to me and that's all that really matters. Thank you, Grizzly Bear, for existing."

Most of the time I can easily differentiate between the two bands, however, it may be different for people who aren't quite as familiar, especially when Fleet Foxes venture closer to the experimental folk rock end of the indie spectrum on songs like English House (check out myspace to hear). Both bands sound like they could have been recorded in the middle of a field in a rural area, and both incorporate swirling melodies with rich earthy undertones. Nevertheless, Grizzly Bear manages to capture a more abstract musical context and lead singer Ed Droste's voice is more memorable, especially with odd-ball Chris Taylor's penetrating soprano falsetto harmonizing on top.

Although obviously I personally tend to favor Grizzly Bear, Fleet Foxes are nothing to sniff at. They put out some great music and are an amazingly strong band. Pitchfork did rate Fleet Foxes a nice 9.0 on their last album and Grizzly Bear got a 8.7. At any rate, the high scores should be enough to tell you that both are amazingly quality bands that are a must-have in any collection.

White Winter Hymnal by Fleet Foxes [mp3] (itunes)
On a Neck, On a Spit by Grizzly Bear [mp3] (itunes)

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