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Fleet Foxes Share Video for “Sunblind”

Shore Out Now via ANTI-

Nov 12, 2020 Fleet Foxes
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In September Fleet Foxes surprise released via ANTI- a new album, Shore, only a day after it was officially announced. Now the band has shared a new video for the album’s “Sunblind,” despite the fact that the album was accompanied by a short film. Sean Pecknold, brother of frontman Robin Pecknold, directed the video, which features recording sessions and country drives and prominently showcases the talents of recording and production engineer Beatriz Bartola. Watch it below.

In a press release Robin Pecknold had this to say about the song, which was recorded only a few weeks before the album’s release: “It really is this big centerpiece and is the anchor that all the other songs are tied to. I wanted to make a song that celebrated my heroes in an explicit way — people who have passed and who I want to honor in the music. That was a big focus of mine, helping them stay alive through these memories. Music is this weird invisible form of immortality for these people, and I wanted to do it in a joyous way and reframe some of the sorrow of loss into a kind of celebration.”

The album’s release at 6:31 a.m. PT/9:31 a.m. ET—which is 13:31 universal coordinated time—was timed to the autumnal equinox. Kersti Jan Werdal directed the film, which is 55 minutes long, was shot in Super 16mm. When the album was released, “Cradling Mother, Cradling Woman” made it to #1 on our Songs of the Week list. After the album’s release the band also shared a separate Sean Pecknold-directed video for “Can I Believe You.”

Frontman Robin Pecknold had this to say about the album in a previous press release: “I see ‘shore’ as a place of safety on the edge of something uncertain, staring at Whitman’s waves reciting ‘death.’ Tempted by the adventure of the unknown at the same time you are relishing the comfort of the stable ground beneath you. This was the mindset I found, the fuel I found, for making this album…. Since the unexpected success of the first Fleet Foxes album over a decade ago, I have spent more time than I’m happy to admit in a state of constant worry and anxiety. Worried about what I should make, how it will be received, worried about the moves of other artists, my place amongst them, worried about my singing voice and mental health on long tours. I’ve never let myself enjoy this process as much as I could, or as much as I should. I’ve been so lucky in so many ways in my life, so lucky to be born with the seeds of the talents I have cultivated and lucky to have had so many unreal experiences. Maybe with luck can come guilt sometimes. I know I’ve welcomed hardship wherever I could find it, real or imagined, as a way of subconsciously tempering all this unreal luck I’ve had. By February 2020, I was again consumed with worry and anxiety over this album and how I would finish it. But since March, with a pandemic spiraling out of control, living in a failed state, watching and participating in a rash of protests and marches against systemic injustice, most of my anxiety around the album disappeared. It just came to seem so small in comparison to what we were all experiencing together. In its place came a gratitude, a joy at having the time and resources to devote to making sound, and a different perspective on how important or not this music was in the grand scheme of things. Music is both the most inessential and the most essential thing. We don’t need music to live, but I couldn’t imagine life without it. It became a great gift to no longer carry any worry or anxiety around the album, in light of everything that is going on. A tour may not happen for a year, music careers may not be what they once were. So it may be, but music remains essential. This reframing was another stroke of unexpected luck I have been the undeserving recipient of. I was able to take the wheel completely and see the album through much better than I had imagined it, with help from so many incredible collaborators, safe and lucky in a new frame of mind.”

Shore is the follow-up to 2017’s Crack-Up (which was their first album in six years). Pecknold says he began writing the album in September 2018, soon after touring for Crack-Up finished. “I’m very proud of that record, and of the tour we were able to mount around it, but living for that long inside Crack-Up’s dense compositions, and touring that relentlessly, left me in a quandary: I didn’t want to take another long break from music; I really wanted to work and feel useful, but I needed to find a new, brighter way of making songs if I was going to go straight into something large and ambitious again,” he says. “I found myself listening more to Arthur Russell, Curtis Mayfield, Nina Simone, Michael Nau, Van Morrison, Sam Cooke, The Roches, João Gilberto, Piero Piccioni, Tim Bernardes, Tim Maia, Jai Paul, and Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou - music that is simultaneously complex and elemental, ‘sophisticated’ and humane, propulsive rhythmically but feathery melodically. I’d make playlists of hundreds of warm songs to immerse myself in, and I’d write as much as I could every day, keeping only the best pieces that emerged from wherever it is that melodies and song ideas come from. After all these years, I still don’t really know, and that’s what keeps it so interesting.”

Pecknold embarked on a one month-long writing trip to rural Portugal. Then the album was recorded in various studios with various collaborators (working with recording/mixing engineer Beatriz Artola): Aaron Dessner’s Long Pond studio in upstate New York, at France’s Studios St. Germain, and then recording at Woody Jackson’s Electro-Vox studio in Los Angeles (working with Grizzly Bear’s Christopher Bear). Pecknold took a pandemic break between February and July and then returned to the album at The Diamond Mine in Long Island City, finishing everything up at Electric Lady Studios in New York City. The album also features Hamilton Leithauser (and his family), Kevin Morby, Daniel Rossen of Grizzly Bear, a sample of Brian Wilson (vocals from the Pet Sounds sessions), and others.

Pecknold says he has plans for yet another Fleet Foxes album for release next year, one that will be recorded with his full touring band, rather than being pieced together in the studio: “For 2021, we hope to have nine more songs ready, to augment the fifteen here. Those songs will be co-written from the ground up with Morgan Henderson, Skyler Skjelset, Casey Wescott, and Christian Wargo, in an attempt to make good use of this liminal time without extensive touring to be done. I’m incredibly excited to see where those songs end up and I hope that by the time they are done we will be able to bring all of this music to crowds around the world in some form or another.”

Read our interview with Robin Pecknold on Crack-Up.

We were one of the first nationally distributed print magazines to interview Fleet Foxes, in 2008, and you can read that article here.

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