The Stone Foxes with Little Hurricane, The She’s
They don't smoke pot. They don't stay up all that late, since they like to run in the morning. Do they drink? Hell, yes! But not to excess. If you're looking to be a groupie, but don't want it to interfere with your career or personal life, the Stone Foxes are an excellent choice.
But they play like a dirty, dirty blues rock band, the kind that does things with underage girls and fishes and make for great biographies 50 years later. On stage, they swap instruments, switch lead singers, and sweat so much that they must have to replace equipment more regularly than Pete Townshend. I saw them rock out an audience of Google employees so hard that they all wound up on the stage. If they can do that to Google employees, imagine what they can do to people who aren't so rich they can pay other people to dance for them.
Shannon Koehler, who looks and acts a lot like Chris Pratt in Parks and Recreation, and his older brother Spence, grew up in Watts Valley. That's about an hour east of Fresno, which is about two and a half hours from anywhere you'd want to be. I know enough about rock bands to know that means that in the not-too-distant future, Shannon and Spence will hate each other. So enjoy the band while you can.
Aaron Mort, who also coincidentally grew up in the Fresno foothills, met Spence in the dorms at San Francisco State. When Shannon moved up for college a few years later, the three formed The Stone Foxes. In 2011, they added Elliott Peltzman, who is probably the only person they ever met nicer and less threatening than they are. They played San Francisco constantly, writing their songs onstage as they played. They are the anti-YouTube sensations.
The new album, Small Fires, finally gives them their own studio sound. The first song, "Everybody Knows," sounds like the soundtrack to a very late night spent walking home alone, if you were a guy full of passion and turmoil and harmonicas; I'll be surprised if Martin Scorsese doesn't use it. It's the kind of song you want to listen to a lot so you can get lost in it when you hear it live. For a band with such a distinctive sound, the album shows a lot of range. You could play "So Much Better" to get in the pants of your summer girlfriend, Small Fires when you're full of rage at your parents for just not getting you, "Goodnight Moon" when you're alone on the porch smoking pot wondering why you were so hard on your parents and didn't take it slower with that nice girl you met last summer.
Small Fires is as polished as they'll ever be. You can even understand the lyrics. It still sounds dirty, but it's a clean dirty. Kind of like the guys themselves. These are guys who worry about where to take girls on dates. For 50 years, guys have gotten into rock for the girls and drugs. The Stone Foxes might be the first band to get into rock for the rock. And you can hear all of that nice guy, Bay Area, liberal repression burst out on this album. It's raw and bluesy. I don't know where it comes from. But I get the feeling you have to know these guys a long time before you figure that out. - Joel Stein
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