The members of PHOX did what many small town dwellers do upon turning 18 — they fled. But due to a series of unforeseen circumstances, the-soon-to-be bandmates found themselves back in their hometown of Baraboo, Wisconsin. Unwilling to completely give in to the tautological nature of rural American life, the six friends moved into a house together in Madison, and in two years time, they had a collection of songs which eventually became PHOX's self-titled debut. And while you may expect the product of the personalities of six budding adults living in close quarters to sound constrictive and rowdy, PHOX
is anything but. With slight and soothing songs like "Calico Man" and "1936" that rely on strings for melody and horns for added flavor, this folk-outfit separates itself from the percussion endowed and harmony heavy sounds of bands like The Lumineers and The Head and the Heart, though drawing such comparisons may be tempting given PHOX's neo-folk style.
"Shrinking Violets" is the most instructive song when it comes to defining what this vague "neo-folk" term means for the six-piece, as it serves as almost a microcosm for the entire record. With lyrics like "And they'll all say its too soon/Two shrinking violets in full bloom," this song highlights the band's wonderfully simple metaphors, but it does more than capture PHOX's storytelling abilities; starting out minimal and steady, the track builds to a crescendo with cymbals crashing and an array of strings strumming, exhibiting the sextet's endless capability of making unexpected melodies. And by continuously employing this change of pace, PHOX demonstrates that while their music is cohesive with its warm melodies, piano interludes and staccato strings, all tied together by the slightly raspy yet airy voice of Monica Martin, they are anything but redundant.
Read our recent interview with PHOX
is out now on Partisan Records. Get your copy here
and watch the video for "Slow Motion" below.