The Stone Foxes are a bluesy rock band out of the San Francisco area that you should be listening to. I meant to write this review a while ago but life’s many distractions prevented me from doing so until now. I first saw the Foxes in 2008 sometime in SF, and since then I’ve been sure to spread their music to friends whenever possible. Their initial full-length self titled album is a revelation, a collection of tunes so soulful and accomplished that you might be surprised to learn that they aren’t seasoned veterans; in fact they are either recent grads or still college students in San Francisco. As a band, though, the Foxes have a maturity well beyond their years, with a strong and impressive grasp on blues rhythm and musical cohesion
I’m combining this album review with their live show that I saw Friday night at Saint Rocke in Hermosa Beach. The Stone Foxes stormed through an hour long set, playing some songs I’ve seen them play before at the Mint such as Sweep a Road and Mercury. The album’s first song, and the first one they played at Saint Rocke, Beneath Mt. Sinai, is one of their standout tracks; it boasts some awesome vocals and a nice, slow beat that turned some heads in the radio circuit up in the Bay. One of the coolest things about the Stone Foxes is how they switch off singing duties and instruments frequently; any given song will be carried out vocally by Shannon, the drummer, Spence, the guitarist, Avi, the bassist, or Aaron, the other guitarist. Avi and Aaron also switch instruments sometimes, as well as singing responsibility. It’s really impressive, since they all sound very tight and carry out their duties in a precise fashion.
At Saint Rocke, the people watching the show seemed to enjoy themselves; Shannon told me that their show the previous night at the Viper Room was packed to the brim as well. It’s great to see them getting this attention at venues across So Cal, as I think they’re one of the better bands I’ve seen in quite a while to emerge from the Bay Area. Their sound, inspired by the legends of the 60s and 70s, is both unique and a throwback to a different era, one of passionate, soulful music of blues legends such as Robert Johnson (whom the Foxes even named a song after, a newer tune about his murder). A newer tune, Mr. Hangman, was the last song of the set, with Shannon doing some badass harmonica jams and taking over lead vocals again. Awesome.
The second track on the album, Rollin’ and Tumblin’, starts with an excellent harmonica lead and some sick slide guitar from Spence, and goes into a group vocal hook. The song may be a blues standard, covered by a ton of artists over the years, but the Stone Foxes’ version is just as great as other artists’ impressions.
As a whole, the album is great, and the songs flow into each other really well. It’s a perfect soundtrack for a long car ride. The Foxes proudly display their inspirations on their collective sleeve, so to speak, and the result is an album that everyone should want to listen to. I know I say this in just about every album review I write here at BtH, but in today’s mostly empty popular music world, bands like the Stone Foxes are all the more important; they have an honesty to their music that other bands/groups lack. I think the Foxes would do well alongside Sub Pop bands like Blitzen Trapper, Grizzly Bear and Fleet Foxes, as they have that folk-y, bluesy sound that those bands employ, much to the enjoyment of the Pitchfork crowd. It’s amazing to me that the Stone Foxes still aren’t signed to a label, as I think they deserve to be.
They just played throughout So Cal, at the Viper Room, Saint Rocke, the Mint, and then at the House of Blues San Diego with the Black Crowes. I know I will sure as hell make an effort to see them next time they come around, and you should too.
I hope this review has encouraged you to enlist your support for the Stone Foxes.
Want to check out their album? Here's the iTunes link.
Here's my video of Beneath Mt. Sinai from Saint Rocke:
And here's a real video of Sweep a Road.