The Autumn Defense

Circles (Arena Rock Recording Company)

The Autumn Defense's sophomore disc was just released. It's brand-new. Really. You can check the date on the back. But if you listen to the record blindly, you'd swear that Circles -- with its Burt Bacharach-esque string and horn arrangements, undulating bass lines and delicate vocals -- was recorded around the time that Tricky Dick went from hero to zero in the collective consciousness. In this case, though, that's not a bad thing. Unlike the no-talent simpletons who've taken revisionism to another level, the members of Autumn Defense -- John Stirratt, a member of Wilco who also played in Uncle Tupelo; multi-instrumentalist Pat Sansone; bassist Brad Jones and drummer Greg Wiz -- manage to deliver a classic-sounding album without coming off as shlocky, retro-loving opportunists, taking their shared influences and feeding them into the music like a wood chipper. The result, pressed into particleboard as strong as its sources, reflects splotches of the raw material: Listen closely and you'll hear elements of (gasp) Bread, Todd Rundgren, Simon and Garfunkel, Nick Drake, the pre-disco Bee Gees and -- probably to the band's chagrin -- England Dan & John Ford Coley. It's sophisticated pop for the -- ah, who am I kidding. I'm not talking about movin' in, and I don't want to change your life. It's light rock for a new generation.
 
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