Reviewing Stone Foxes’ new, self titled debut is not a simple task. Based on the name and the group photo, I assume that they are a bunch of uppity Whitesnake wannabes who will only make it big if they cover a song by The Sweet. But then I hear their music. Certainly, lead singer Shannon Koehler could excel at mid-eighties faux-blues, but the band behind him is firmly entrenched in the early seventies. Koehler’s voice is young and crisp, and it’s shocking to hear how much bottom he can bring, when the song calls for it. Unlike other modern bluesrockers like The Black Keys, Stone Foxes show remarkable range. They go from the slow, bluesy “Sweep a Road” and their cover of “Spoonful,” to country (“Mercury”), and inject the garage/psychedelic sound of the sixties without adding noodley jams that are the trademark of bands like Black Mountain. (In fact, the longer songs on the record are also the weakest songs on the record.) And then there’s “Beneath Mt. Sinai,” which would be my choice for a single: It’s got the singalong blues growl of the best stuff on the first Jet album, but without the pop production. It’s easy to imagine the Allmans, Steppenwolf or Moby Grape doing the same song in the studio: Muscular, moving, and the kind of guitarwork that’s guaranteed to make college boys fall on their backs and strum the air with wild abandon.
Stone Foxes have a tight, bluesrock sound that recalls Aerosmith’s first record, a sound not often emulated by bands of today. If these guys don’t break big, I don’t know what will.