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Fleet Foxes: Could a cover of 'Tiger Mountain Peasant' be better than the original?

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Here’s a challenge: Try to find an intelligent, left-leaning, bigcity-inhabiting person between the ages of 30 and 40 who doesn’t swoonat the mere mention of the hippie beardo Seattle alternative band Fleet Foxes. And, in my humble opinion, rightly so. There’s a lot tolove about the intricate harmonies throughout last year’s self-titleddebut album. Yes, this much we know after they ended up on too manyyear-end best-of lists to count.

But what’s remarkable about their growing popularity is that it hasinspired fans from all over the world to try and recreate thoseinsanely complex harmonies. No, this isn’t unique to Fleet Foxes, and it’s been happening in this case for a while. But it is fascinating nonetheless that a spate of videos featuring amateur coversof their “Tiger Mountain Peasant” song have popped up on YouTube. Thatmakes some sense, considering that the song is probably the mostexquisite on the album. But isn’t it also kind of foolish to mess withsomething so pristine and perfect? You’d think. But what nobodyaccounted for was that a cover by two Swedish teenagers, who have theirown little band called First Aid Kit, would become a huge undergroundhit with its own set of fans, many of whom passionately believe thatthe girls’ version outshines the original. (In fact, when you searchthe name of the song on YouTube, their version comes up — with 473,000views — before Fleet Foxes’ original.)

I know, dem’s fightin’ words. How is it even possible that two girlssitting on a tree in some Swedish forest could have created somethingthat rivals one of the most highly touted bands in the indie rockworld? I was skeptical myself. Then I gave it a listen and I was hookedby the guileless beauty of their tribute to a band they love. Plus,they recorded it outdoors and their voices rise, rich and loud,seemingly up to the treetops. If you don’t believe me, check it out foryourself:

Does anyone else think they’ve captured something rich here? Is thisthe ultimate compliment or have they stolen the Foxes’ thunder? Doesthis make you want to record your own version of the song?

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