EP REVIEW: Fox - Fox EP :
by: Cyrus Rhodes
Psychedelic Rock, Jam Band, Rock, Blues
Weakness: More vocal harmonies, EP release, winded songs, short-sided songs
Riff-rock/blues-rock band out of Kalamazoo, MI. The Band: Chris Sinclair, Carman Goodrich, John Lawrence just released a 5 song EP entitled “Fix EP” in 2014. Influences include: Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Neil Young, Pink Floyd, Albert King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Gary Clark Jr., The White Stripes, The Black Keys, Junior Kimbrough, Wax On Radio, Roy Buchanan, ZZ Top, John Lee Hooker.
The EP quickly takes to flight with “Big Fred” a psychedelic intro piece that serves up steady rock rhythm, well placed guitar ambience against bluesy vocal melody and phrasing from Sinclair and company. Track 2 “The Morning” keeps thing grooving with its impressive groove, mesmerizing vocal hooks and rocking guitar that peaks and valleys its way through to emotional fruition. Track 3 “Let Me Down” shifts gears with bluesy rock groove that delivers impressive guitar phrasing against hypnotic vocal delivery and mesmerizing musical flow. As this CD slowly unfolds I can hear many different musical soundscapes reminiscent of Cream, The White Stripes, Soundgarden, and even Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy and Grand Funk. Despite this the 'grip it and rip it" sound of this band is extremely unique when compared to today's modern music. The music itself is an impressive blend of Trippy Grunge and Psychedelic Blues-Rock of the 70’s – all with a Jam Band aftertaste. The production touches are brilliant and are clearly above the bar. Besides the 4 piece standard you will notice lush instrumentation with things like impressive rhythm guitar, well placed vocal phrasing and melody, impressive hot to the touch solo guitar chops against a thick as a brick rhythm section. Turning our attention squarely to Sinclair – his vocal/guitar playing style fit together with this style of music like a hand in glove. Imagine guitar playing and singing that's a hybrid between The White Stripes and Led Zeppelin. Surprisingly the whole thing works remarkably well. Sinclair takes many musical risks and strikes gold when he goes intense. This indicates to me a song and confident artistic ability. The songwriting is consistent and provides as much musical variety a 3 piece can dish out. All engineering aspects check out. .EP possesses solid low end punch and crystal clear high end clarity. Sinclair has an effective baritone and is no slouch on guitar either. I like his shoot from ths hip vocal and solo flair. From dynamic “High Tide Rising” to grooving and dynamic ‘Apathetic People” this 5 song EP has something for just about everyone.
I wish there were more vocal harmonies throughout. I typically deduct 1 star for EP releases. The fully loaded CD release is the best and most accurate releases to judge an artist by at any given point in time. All songs over 4 minutes tend to drag you across the finish line, all songs under 3 minutes feel like incomplete statements to me. Drumming (tom fills) on Apathetic People sounds extremely sloppy to me.
From start to finish this latest EP release called “Fox EP” is an impressive catalogue of music and is like a drug. I give these 3 high marks for just being themselves musically and letting it all hang out. The final result – a cutting edge musical production that is a breath of fresh air. The musical signature of this band is reminiscent of music 20 years ago with a slight modern day twang. Song for song: the music is very consistent, intense, and extremely entertaining.