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Published: 2013/04/05
by Joe Flick

The Stone Foxes
Small Fires

The latest offering from San Francisco’s gritty blues rock quartet is anything but small. It’s been almost three years since their sophomore LP, Bears & Bulls, but the band has not been wasting time. Writing and touring constantly, playing everywhere from bars to festivals, The Stone Foxes have built a steady following, testing and tweaking tunes on the road…and this is the result: Small Fires is an approachable, cohesive, and razor sharp rock ‘n roll record.

The Stone Foxes are absolutely explosive live, and this energy is channeled expertly on Small Fires with the help of producer Doug Boehm (Dr. Dog, The Vines). The raw energy and shout-along moments of the Stone Foxes unique brand of blues rock is still at the forefront. In full force on the lead single “Everybody Knows” and the catchy, distorted “Jump in the Water.” The addition of Rhodes/Keyboard played by Elliot Peltzman is a crucial element to their sound, adding subtle texture as well as punctuating fuzzy guitar with an organ-like wail that turns the title track into a seriously heavy, foot stomping jam. Lyrics are both straightforward and oblique, yet always relatable; running the gamut of romance, the economy, politics and even boxing (drummer Shannon Koehler and bassist Aaron mort alternately belt out the tribute to Miguel Cotto’s desperate fight against Manny Pacquiao on “Cotto”).

There is no filler here; every one of the album’s ten tracks showcases the Stone Foxes versatility as a band. From aggressive blues riffing and guitarist Spence Koehler’s deep, gravelly howl on “Ulysses Jones” to the plinking piano and spooky slide of “Battles, Blades and Bones,” the Stone Foxes leave it all on the table. Tracks that didn’t immediately jump out the first time around (“Cold Wind, So Much Better”) revealed themselves to be two of the albums most subtle and beautiful songs. As the record draws to a close with the twangy, soulful “Goodnight Moon”; you are left with one hell of a barnburner. Small Fires is sure to turn heads in 2013.

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