Album Review: The Stone Foxes – Twelve Spells

Twelve Spells

the stone foxes twelve spellsReleased March 18th 2016

Words: Greg Arthur

The Stone Foxes – ‘Twelve Spells’ (Album)

 

San Francisco’s The Stone Foxes are an odd one. Upon reading the press release, they’re a straight forward blues-rock band – and that’s no lie, they certainly are. They’ve also got theatrical keys, shuffles, tinges of pop, gospel, soul and flashes of those old Scott Walker highwayman songs. It’s very American. It’s Springsteen if he snuck into a practice with Alabama Shakes. It’s White Denim if they cranked their keyboard to 11. Its fried chicken for breakfast, drowned in syrup, eaten on the porch.

 

Twelve Spells is my first introduction to The Stone Foxes, but this isn’t their first go. Three LP’s precede this, and they’re comfortable in their own skin. This isn’t music you haven’t heard before, but it’s a take on music you’re all too familiar with. Cold Like A Killer is the lights down epic number, and really the only detour from the knee-slapping fun on the rest of the record. Although the vocals don’t fit the aesthetic of a big band number, the band rally around the vocals and take it to almost a religious level of dedication to their cause. Highlights of the LP follow thick and fast, with She Said Riot straight after, which is a banshee at a funeral, eerie but exciting, and really helps break the record up.

 

Criticism of the record is few and far between, as this genuinely is a rip-roaring, exciting and captivating record. Where The Gaslight Anthem struggle and aspire to make overly earnest, honest, turbo-Americana tracks, The Stone Foxes have bottled that essence and shaken it up into their own cocktail. Vintage Trouble comes close, but feel like a sideline act to these guys. In a world where we’ve heard every song, seen every look, and artists are struggling to innovate, what’s wrong with taking a blueprint and turning it on its head? It Ain’t Nothing is a mix of family-friendly Americana-pop, with some filth-ridden guitar lines. It’s a paradox. I like it!

 

Where the criticism does come from me, is that I’m dubious about an act on their fourth record who use lyrics like “your plastic cocaine eyes” and “you’re in the crowd, you always talk so loud” – both from N.Y.T. – it’s just an example of potentially sloppy lyrics, embedded in what is full of great music and some clever lines, some clever storytelling lines. “Baby…forgive me….for what I’m about to do….see I’d do….anything…..to be you”. He then goes on to talk about picking locks, and her face is in the ground at one point. Storytelling is important to a great song, not just words that rhyme! Sloppy at times on the lyrics is one thing, but that’s really it. Otherwise, this record is almost complete – it’s not for everyone, but it’s more than likely for you.

It’s easy to see why they’re not as mainstream as their obvious peers, but have racked up 6 million Spotify plays. This is one of the America’s greatest kept secrets!

 

Watch the video for Dying Star which also features on the album, here:

 

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