I was sitting in the back of a cab on my way home from the bars last night when Britney Spears' new hit single "Circus" came on the radio. After wondering for a short time "who would ever listen to this?", I started to think of the reasons why people listen to music at all (even Britney). Obviously, there are many reasons, each unique to every person.
My reason is that music, when done right, is the most powerful of any art form. There is nothing better. The best artists find a way to connect to their fans, usually without ever having physically met them. Sometimes it's a long road you have to walk down together to develop such a relationship; other times it's love at first listen. It's this connection, a certain intimacy between artist and listener that is most appealing to me.
I had a love at first listen moment not too long ago, on my road trip to Richmond, VA this summer. She was a band called Fleet Foxes, from Seattle, and we were meant for each other. Her comforting vocal harmonies pulled me in instantly; and when I heard the wandering acoustic melodies guided by intimate songwriting, I was in love.
The Fleet Foxes' self-titled debut album begins just like the title of the first track, "The Sun it Rises", transporting the listener to their bed at the crack of dawn, not dreading, but looking forward to a long day's work on the farm. "White Winter Hymnal" makes me want to go to church every Sunday, with the rounds of tight harmonies - led by lead singer Robin Pecknold - sounding so pure my eyes begin to glaze over.
This band will make a lot of top ten "albums of the year" lists, and deservedly so. They brought back that antiquated CSNY folk flavor with conviction and a lot of people are listening. So if you haven't heard them yet, now's the time to begin your relationship. Introduce yourselves to each other and enjoy.