The Stone Foxes – Twelve Spells


Dabbling with commitment…

Pondered over since its release on 18 March 2016 by Allan “hic!” Jones whilst consuming a reasonably-priced though not cheap bourbon…

The Stone Foxes are a San Francisco band, and they play in a lo-fi garage rock style. If that’s not enough to put you off then be warned that this album is their fourth and that, on this showing, they’re rather more concerned about their ‘credibility in the scene’ than in churning out great rock tracks. This is somewhat annoying, because they’re definitely a band with ability and potential – previous tracks of theirs have been used in the Sons of Anarchy TV series (‘Beneath Mt. Sinai’) and their cover of Slim Harpo’s ‘I’m a King Bee’ was used in adverts for Jack Daniels. But, sadly, there’s something missing. It all sounds a little bit thin and lifeless, which doesn’t help and turning it up loud doesn’t help any. One more annoyance: why call the album Twelve Spells and then have 13 tracks? Call it 13 spells, or drop a track. Grrr.

While it’s hard to put my finger on why it isn’t working for me, one part of it is that the gritty layer of dirt that’s supposed to be a fundamental part of that whole garage rock sound seems a little too clinical. For me, the key to this lo-fi garage sound is to fill it with wall-to-wall attitude and balls. It’s like they’re trying to construct it rather than feel it.

There are a few tracks that depart a little from the disappointing baseline – ‘Cold Like A Killer’ slows everything right down in a very dark manner, and ‘Jericho’ goes all harmonica-swamp-blues in another welcome change of pace. My favourite is probably ‘I Want To Be You’ which sounds like it could have been played in a dive bar on True Blood.

Everything else on the album, though, merely comes across as being by-the-numbers, with nowhere near enough life to drag me back into listening to it again. Sure, there’s some variation in tonality, and they’re not sticking to the same sound on every track – so that’s a positive. Or, at least, it would be if they could pull more of them off. It’s just a little bit dull, uninvolving, and lifeless – generic, even. It never quite goes deep enough into any style, and there’s an overall feel that they’re dabbling rather than committing to the album.

The Stone Foxes – Twelve Spells5 out of 10

Track List:

  1. Eye For Love
  2. I Want To Be You
  3. This Town
  4. Cold Like A Killer
  5. She Said Riot
  6. Dying Star
  7. It Ain’t Nothing
  8. Y.T. (New York Talk)
  9. Jericho
  10. My Place
  11. Greasin’ Up The Doorman
  12. Locomotion 1
  13. Count Me As One