Stone Foxes, Bears & Bullls, CD Review
The Stone Foxes are an original rock and blues band that hails from San Francisco, California, consisting of Shannon Koehler, Aaron Mort and also Spence Koehler. The group is surely influenced by the likes of such acts like The Raconteurs, Bob Dylan, Wilco, Black Sabbath, Jimi Hendrix and even the Muppets Band! The most recent effort by the group is entitled,”Bears & Bulls” and is available on compact disk and also vinyl via their website,
. They also have a high quality Mp3 download of the album available there as well, which was produced by The Stone Foxes
in Kaleidoscopic Wondersound. It was mixed by Alex Newport and mastered by John Cuniberti. The recording was done by the group itself at the Fox Den in San Francisco, CA.
You know you can tell when a band really puts forth an effort into the songwriting by the quality of its construction. Instead of hashing out their material in pre-production mode, this group does something that I personally like to see: they work out their material at their live shows before it is ever released in a recording. By the time they get it recorded and produced, they have a polished song that sounds like it was just nailed live and somehow replicated in the live sound kind of feel. The band takes portions of rock and blues greats from 1960 to today and mashes them up into a ball and just lets it roll.
The first track, “Stomp” doesn’t need to be explained really; the name says it all, and the music backs it up, truly it does. It is a rousing track that introduces the album well. “Patience” has an infectious groove to start off with, and you quickly ascertain the modern take on rock and blues that makes The Stone Foxes unique. Plus, the bridge is cool on this one; bass and drums only for a bit, then the guitar comes back in the mix, does a quick solo and they just keep on rocking through the song, and it progresses seamlessly into the next verse and chorus. “I Killed Robert Johnson” is third on the album, a storyteller type of song, the kind that only the blues can bring into focus with such a relative vibe. This one was my favorite thus far. It has an epic quality to it, the kind that makes you really remember a band. “Passenger Train” has a nineties sort of rock and blues feel on the verses. The chorus has an up-to-date sound and brings it together to a crescendo that rounds out the song as a solid fourth track. The song mentions the lyrics,”I did what I did to get by”, which is a line that really brings it home for me. I find that too often people forget this fact of life, that we sometimes are just surviving, and we should be cognitive of this fact; everyone deals with this in a vast array of ways. “Young Man” is upbeat and a definite head-bobber, suitable for an excellent driving song on a road trip. “I’m a young man until the day I die”, is an excerpt from the chorus to better describe the song. The guitar work is very warm and has a fresh appeal. Not that the bass doesn’t rock…the rhythm section is equally as talented and knows how to carry the song. “Easy” is a ballad that, to me, simply describes how tough life can be in a not so whiner way, enriched with a rootsy country and blues rock style. Track seven, “Reno“, shines bright. The musicianship works so well on it, they found a way to bottle this chaotic and progressive track into something so tangible that when drank, you experience pychadelic rock at it’s best. “Through The Fire” is a slower song in three-four time signature with beautiful melodies and harmonies. “Little Red Rooster” is track nine. It seems to be about a lazy rooster who doesn’t even feel like crowing on this given day and is just plain upset, life on the farm is the blues personified. This rooster is pissed and is wreaking havoc. If you find him, be sure to call it’s owner, as he is very worried about the little guy. “Hyde & Pine” rocked me into the closing portion of the disk. All killer, no filler and the lyrics state, “Tell me what you need, I won’t tell your mother.” What are they doing over there at corner of Hyde and Pine anyways? Track eleven is “Mr. Hangman“, and it has a huge sound, harmonica infused and accompanied by a Hendrix-esque fashion in it’s execution. The last song is “Come Again“, and the vocals remind me of Dylan. The lyrics toward the end, “Just look at everything we had”, is the acknowledgement that distance is not the solution of this particular couple’s troubles, an introspective ending to quite the organic release. The Stone Foxes take on multiple instrumentation perspectives when it comes to each member. They are versatile. Recorded with almost no overdubs, in a studio that they built on their own, these twenty-somethings are ones to watch if you like rock and blues music. Visit them online at the following sites and ask for the album at your local music store.
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