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Friday, July 25, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 65.0° F  Fair
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Fleet Foxes: Rock of ages
Closing the generation gap

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Not so long ago, the generation gap was an essential ingredient of pop music. The Who told their elders to "fade away" and "don't try to dig what we all say" on "My Generation."

Kurt Cobain disdained the social hypocrisy of hippies turned yuppies. He once wrote, "I like to blame my parents' generation for coming so close to social change and then giving up."

21st-century indie-rock isn't big on that kind of rhetoric. More often than not, bands now openly embrace the music of their parents.

The last Decemberists album was all about '70s prog. Al Green showed up on the indie charts earlier this year.

That leads us to Fleet Foxes - a Seattle quintet that embodies this pan-generational trend.

"We grew up listening to the music of our parents," says the band's lead singer, 21-year-old Robin Pecknold. "The Beach Boys, Simon & Garfunkel, Crosby Stills & Nash, Bob Dylan and every other perennial '60s band you'd expect to find in the record collections of baby boomers."

Fleet Foxes waste no time referencing those artists on their self-titled debut. The way the band sings in harmony on the opening track of their new album instantly recalls the Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations."

Of course, the music of the '60s relied a little on songwriting history, too. One of the first songs Brian Wilson ever wrote, "Surfer Girl," was a riff on the 1940 Disney classic "When You Wish Upon a Star."

Fleet Foxes offer no apologies for drawing on music's past.

"We try to draw from the traditions of folk music, pop, choral music and gospel, baroque psychedelic, sacred harp singing, West Coast music, traditional music from Ireland to Japan, and film scores," says Pecknold.

Fleet Foxes are one of 2008's breakthrough artists. Rich and sometimes ethereal vocal harmonies meet lush instrumentation throughout their album. Their confidence is astonishing, and they've made one of the most gorgeous records to be released this year.

In contrast to the generational bravado of the Who, Fleet Foxes are content to acknowledge their youth and inexperience.

"This record is like our first steps," Pecknold says. "And like any newborn, we made mistakes and made discoveries, and in the process better found out who we are."

Fleet Foxes, Friday, July 18, UW Memorial Union Terrace, 5 pm

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