We Love Foxygen: We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace & Magic
So there’s this new record out by this band called Foxygen. Out on January 22nd on Jagjaguwar, We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace & Magic is full of sounds of the sixties. Which I know gets thrown around a lot lately, but it’s actually true with this one. There are lots of Judas-era-Dylan sounds (specifically on Track 2 “No Destruction”) by way of the spacing of syllables, the rhodes piano and the harmonica.
Having been described sounding like The Kinks, the Velvet Underground and some of the Rolling Stones, you certainly can hear it in tracks like “On Blue Mountain” [below]. Its in the piano tracking, the movements in their songs and the build up with snare. When I listen to this record the progression their songs take surprises me. This record is better and stronger than I thought it would be. Mature and ready for action, Foxygen released themselves right. First with the strong single “Shuggie” that Sirius XMU plays near constantly. When I first heard it, I was instantly in love. The muted trumpet-synth sound and the slightly reverbed whisper telling me a likely story, “I met your daughter the other day/It was weird/She had rhinoceros shaped earrings in her ears.” Then my friend Faith’s incredibly wonderful boyfriend, Julian, mentioned this band to me, “I’m really excited about this band Foxygen.” He might of even said something about knowing them. (Hi guys!)
Then came a second track (the above mentioned “No Destruction” was named Best New Track over at The Fork) and I was even more eager to hear this record. Luckily the Great Mike Marrone happened upon it by way of, we work in the “radio” “business”. In the kitchen at work yesterday he told me, “I think it’s going to be one of those huge records. But I haven’t decided whether or not to play it yet.” So it goes. Regardless, here it is and I’m telling you, GO listen to this record.
Never before has the phrase “I left my love in San Francisco” been so perfect. (OK, side note here, if you’re going to write about the greatest city in the world, I’m bound to pay attention to your band. (Atten.) With lines like, “I left my love in San Francisco/That’s OK/I was bored anyway” Foxygen couldn’t miss.) On “San Francisco” [below], there’s a xylophone and a cute, childish sounding voice layered on itself with the piano. My god do I love the piano. This record sounds like Foxygen bottled nostalgia from the 21st Century and started taking a daily dose.
It’s in the low-fi of “Bowling Trophies,” of sound effects of planes and trumpets with “oo-bahh baa swhup-bob”. With those single note guitar solos (the key Velvet ingredient and slide and piano pounds. It’s 1:46 near instrumental bliss. Like a missing track from a Nuggets box. This record is only nine songs long and they still managed to show off. It’s a shiny tidbit and an overlooked footnote from the mod English 60s and the tripped out Haight.
We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace & Magic is too short. Tracks like “Oh Yeah” remind me of T. Rex. Something about the echo, falsetto, the chorus and the sense that they know they’re doing something right. Here’s the thing, Sam France (from Olympia, WA) and Jonathan Rado (from NYC – duh) are 22 years old. Younger than I am, they’ve seemed to figure it all out. Settling down in LA as the next big two piece, the title track is upbeat. Swinging and swaying with R&B, it has some of the Rolling Stones in it (just like we were promised) with a little Mick swindle in it and a little “uh-huh-huh,” “The twenty-first century is gonna kick your ass, boy.” And better yet, closing track “Oh No 2” sounds like a lengthy (even though it’s only 5:20) Beatles sound effects full psychedelic-let’s-try-everything from spilling our guts to string arrangements to having men read lines of nothingness really straightforwardly. Its spacey and ambient. Leaving us with a familiar feeling with a solo piano diddle and the line, “If you believe in love/Everything you see is love/So try/to be/what God wants you to be/and say that/I love you/again.”
Foxygen is the cool band. (Hell, even their name is cool – and fun to say.) They have a previous record called Take The Kids Off Broadway that came out this past summer, also on Jagjaguwar. It’s soaked in fuzzy goodness, sounds like solo Lou Reed and there are synthesizers, but it is less organized and less orchestrated (even with the kind of perfect repetitive chorus from the title track, “take the kids off broadway/take the kids off broadway,” the track itself is zany.) It’s a good record, but it’s not as great as We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace & Magic. Foxygen is growing. They wrap up everything we love about popular music and twist it off, with a new twist. Thanks guys. Already, I can’t wait for more.