Wallace Wylie

Fleet Foxes vs Fairport Convention

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by Wallace Wylie

Ever heard ‘What We Did On Our Holidays’ by Fairport Convention?

Fleet Foxes have.

Every single backing track by Fleet Foxes sounds like Fairport Convention. I mean every single last fucking one of them! By the sounds of it, the new album will be more of the same. More Fairport Convention.

28 Responses to Fleet Foxes vs Fairport Convention

  1. Wallace Wylie April 9, 2011 at 10:18 am

    The Fairport Convention link isn’t working for me. There’s always this one.


    “Eastern Rain” especially.

  2. mmc April 9, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    These guys are the Blink 182 of indie folk

  3. GBE April 10, 2011 at 1:05 am

    I know this site is intended to basically be a hater forum (we “criticize” because we care…mmmmhmmmm), but a band trying to sound like Denny/Thompson era Fairport doesn’t seem that egregious to me.

  4. Wallace Wylie April 10, 2011 at 9:27 am

    Hater forum? Collapse Board is for lovers.

  5. Lucy Cage April 10, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    I think the comparison is fair, but a good part of me goes “So what?” I don’t suppose Fleet Foxes would deny their debt to Fairport. Why would they? It’s like people’s ears getting stuck on the fact that Animal Collective have Beach Boys harmonies. My friend can’t listen to them because he’s so bothered by that comparison, but he’s the one missing out on ‘For Reverend Green’ by not getting the fuck over it.

    If Fleet Foxes were note-for-note copyists, if there’s nothing that they add to FC’s template, if you can’t enjoy them EVEN THOUGH they very obviously have their roots set deep in a scene several decades old, then fair enough, I suppose. But I LOVED their album (yes, I love Fairport too) because it’s beautiful and urgent and heartbreaking: it works. And that’s from someone who utterly LOATHES pastiche, faux authenticity, the impulse bands (mostly involving boys) have towards being fer real. Fuck that. And if anyone tried to sell me a spiel about Fleet Foxes being on some kind of back to basics mission, I’d close my ears, “la la la” for all I’m worth and turn up the spiky synth pop. But it’s not either Metronomy or Fleet Foxes, as far as I’m concerned. It’s not either Fairport OR Fleet Foxes, either. (Or, pace recent enjoyable slaggings off of NME top tips, either MGMT or The Naked and the Famous, come to that: TNATF’s song is actually brilliant hooky pop, despite its outrageous similarity to Time To Pretend.) You are allowed both, really you are.

    And Helplessness Blues, the first single from the new FF album, is a wonderful thing. Its lovely melody trembles and pounds and rails against the cult of individuality, all glorious guitar thrums and passion, and then it rolls out an entirely different song two thirds of the way through, a hopeless elegy for a life all golden with love and anonymous functionality. If they’re going to write raging critiques of capitalism instead of noodling about growing beards, I’m all for them.

    Here, by the way, is an excellent blog post about this very subject:

  6. Wallace Wylie April 11, 2011 at 1:49 am

    I never liked Fleet Foxes, then I realised that all of their music, which is all very similar, sounds like Fairport Convention, so it wasn’t really a case of not liking them because they sounded like FP. I just wanted to be a hater.

  7. GBE April 11, 2011 at 3:58 am

    I can get behind (creative/insightful) hating as much as the next guy, but casual dismissal like this is not criticism. I thought Collapse Board was supposed to have something to say? I’m bummed about the Pitchfork direction this whole site is heading in. Boo.

  8. Wallace Wylie April 11, 2011 at 6:55 am

    Oh come on. This is just a little bit a random dismissive hating. Hardly indicative Collapse Board’s general tone. There’s room for everything.

  9. Everett True April 11, 2011 at 8:04 am

    I didn’t even think it was hating, just a straightforward “if you like this you might like that” kind of post that magazines and websites the world over are currently infatuated with. Wallace, are you telling me you don’t even like Fleet Foxes? That’s it, my man. You’re fucking fired. Potshots at UK music press I can take … but Seattle’s finest suburban hippies? You bastard!

  10. mmc April 11, 2011 at 10:24 am



  11. Robin Pecknold April 11, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    Similar vibe I guess (tom drum, acoustic guitars, harmonies – no ever did that before Fairport Convention!) but none of the melodies in these two songs sound similar at all to me. Of all the “sounds a bit like” things that people have said about our band, this is by far the most specious to be “published,” and to say that everything we’ve ever done sounds like Fairport Convention is quite literally bullshit. this a website people read? Somebody retweeted this at me.

  12. Wallace Wylie April 11, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Yeah, the melodies don’t sound similar. Hence why I said “Every single backing track”. So you’re saying it’s not true because…..it’s not. Back to square one for me.

  13. Darragh April 11, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Every single Gaga song is a Madonna song. Are we going to tear her down now?

  14. Pitchfag April 11, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    That’s not fair, Darragh. Some of them are Ace Of Base songs, too.

  15. jethco April 11, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    Since Fairport Convention never produced a lick of original music – they were modern interpreters of traditional English folk music – I can’t see how it could possibly matter if some band 40 years later rips *them* off. Especially when, really, they don’t. Fleet Foxes are combining at least 2 or 3 noticeable other influences here. Which is, you know, basically the modus operandi of ALL MUSIC EVER MADE.

  16. Everett True April 11, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    Every single Gaga song is a Madonna song. Are we going to tear her down now?

    Bearded in my lair!

  17. mmc April 11, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    Jerry, even I can’t argue with the Blink 182 of indie folk about this being a site that people read… hey Fleet Foxes dude, this is a site you read if you are either a) obsessed with Everett True and his zeitgeist/glory days or b) trying to be an Australian music critic, I think.

  18. GBE April 12, 2011 at 3:46 am

    Eh, I dunno. Just kind of lazy and a bit of a drag to see artists so casually dismissed like this…presumably from people who care about the integrity of the culture. I’m of the opinion that cultural critics should have something more useful to say, not resort to the typical hipster ho hum snark that’s made indie culture such a fucking bummer recently. Give us a meaty reason that you hate it. I’d read Vice or Pitchfork if I wanted oversimplification and knee jerk reviews.

  19. Wallace Wylie April 12, 2011 at 8:04 am


    Sorry, but you don’t know what you’re talking about. Both Sandy Denny and Richard Thompson wrote many songs for Fairport Convention. Even “Liege and Lief” had two amazing Thompson originals. Making music that sounds like identical to music made over 40 years ago is a little much in my book. I mean, everyone agrees that “Birth of the Cool” by Miles Davis is fantastic, but if someone had released an album in 1997 that sounded just like it I doubt anyone would be impressed.


    Music culture right now has no integrity. Why shouldn’t I casually dismiss Fleet Foxes? Because they’re taken seriously, play instruments and have beards? You should go to Pitchfork if you want to read endless praising of Fleet Foxes, because they love them over there. Is that the integrity you want?

  20. Everett True April 12, 2011 at 9:02 am

    Collapse Board’s new slogan: We treat music with the respect it deserves

  21. GBE April 12, 2011 at 10:05 am

    Music culture these days has no integrity? Sure. But you, unfortunately, are part of the problem. Why bother even writing about it? It’s kind of mind blowing that you’d even waste your time.

  22. Everett True April 12, 2011 at 10:14 am

    You’ll enjoy our new columnist then, GBE: Princess Stomper deconstructs the art of the pop song.

  23. Wallace Wylie April 12, 2011 at 10:25 am

    GBE: So saying that someone’s recorded output sounds like Fairport Convention is destroying the integrity of music culture? Interesting viewpoint. Have you read anything else I’ve written? I’d hate to think that you’re casually dismissing me.

  24. GBE April 14, 2011 at 12:25 am

    @ Everett: I actually read that Princess Stomper piece and liked it. It has something to say and says it well and with some gusto. It’s everything this Wallace Wylie piece is not.

    @Wallace Wylie: I don’t think you get what I’m trying to say here. I take issue with small scale criticism. I am not asking for you to start falling in love with Fleet Foxes. I’m just asking you to aim higher than this piece, which doesn’t really express an opinion. This kind of shallow, knee jerk criticism is something you see at Vice, Gawker Media or Pitchfork (yes, I said it) and it lacks integrity. Stick with pieces like the Pitchfork/advertising/bland indie piece or the BritPop piece. MUCH better. Just because it’s on the internet doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have to try harder.

  25. GBE April 14, 2011 at 12:27 am

    Also, I agree with your Pitchfork piece in large part and that was my intro to CB. The blandness of the current “alternative” scene is no doubt a scourge of beige, but really not more than it was in the 70s, 80s or 90s. What’s being called “alternative” these days is really just another name for mainstream. Arcade Fire, Interpol, MGMT, etc are simply this decade’s Loverboy, J. Geils Band, and Styx. If music sucks so bad today and you can’t find the latest cool shit and get excited about it, then I suggest you form an identity centered around the latest cool books or cinema, where there is tons of inspiring shit happening. Cuz it just doesn’t seem worth it to me to be such a sourpuss all the time. But maybe that’s your thing?

  26. Wallace Wylie April 14, 2011 at 12:59 am

    No, being Bagpuss is my thing.

  27. mmc April 14, 2011 at 3:09 am

    “Arcade Fire, Interpol, MGMT, etc are simply this decade’s Loverboy, J. Geils Band, and Styx.”

    heart heart heart

  28. GCGL May 9, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    If Liefe and Lief is pretty much the template for folk rock then isn’t this post a bit like randomly picking a C86/C86 revival band and saying they sound a bit like the VU? Might be true but it’s not exactly an earth shattering revelation.

    @ Simon Well yeah I’m sure she is in awe – as you suggest we all should be. But they’ve got totally different voices. Sandy Denny has all those booming rich low tones that actually slow time. Lavinia hits those chiming clear upper register notes that Sandy was never going to reach. I’m sure Lavinia has also given equal attention to Maddy Prior, Anne Briggs and all their godmother Shirley Collins.

    Anyway Collapse Board I know FF are a big deal to lots of people (stifles yawn) and you probably feel you have to write about them and tilt at them in your collander helmet but you should write something cool about Trembling Bells instead or as well. Mind you perhaps you all feel the whole new folk rock thing has run its course or perhaps you don’t think in genres or presume that you should be proclaiming their high tide mark. Where’s my beard trimmer?

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