Album: Fleet Foxes, Sun Giant (Bella Union)
Seattle quintet Fleet Foxes were the surprise hit of this year's SXSW Festival – and no wonder, if this sublime debut is anything to go by.
Though intended merely as a tour souvenir, and disdained by the band as unrepresentative of their ambitions, this five-track EP has the kind of otherworldly grace that has in recent years brought mainstream acclaim to such fringe artists as Mercury Rev, Flaming Lips, Iron & Wine and Arcade Fire. Harnessing gorgeous harmonies to folk-rock arrangements with the sort of enigmatic melodies favoured by The Shins, they're courageous enough to open with an a cappella title-track, capped with a delicate mandolin coda that doesn't disturb the song's fragile meniscus. Elsewhere, there are elegant Pentanglish folkisms, awed apprehensions of wonder at real life, and echoes of West Coast baroque-pop harmonists like The Association and America; but at their best, as on "Innocent Son", there's a tainted piety to Fleet Foxes' music that seems to straddle the secular and the sacred rather like a white, folkie equivalent of soul music. A mouth-watering taster for a full-length album later this year.
Pick of the Album: 'Innocent Son', 'Sun Giant', 'Mykonos', 'English House', 'Drops In The River'
Arts & Ents blogs
Mathew Jonson has been a hero of mine for quite some time now. His timeless piece, Marionette, was o...
We love London for its multiculturalism, so we’re all about that cross-cultural life this weekend by...
Owen Howells is a DJ/producer who grew up in Australia but was born in the UK. He came back to the U...
Fish Love: Broadchurch star Arthur Darvill poses nude with un poisson
Written on the body: Tattooists at pains to point out their artistic credentials
Walt Disney: One man and his mouse... and how they blighted our world
Lord of the Sings: Sir Christopher Lee, 91, to release heavy metal album
Roman Polanski shakes Cannes Film Festival
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Nook is donating eReaders to volunteers at high-need schools and participating in exclusive events throughout the campaign.
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.