Brooklyn-based Stone Cold Fox – a name Inspired by Kirsten Dunst in Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides – have been on a journey of self discovery both musically and in life. Since the release of the rather different debut LP Memory Palace, two years ago, they got straight to work on the tracks that make up their new EP Tunnel Vision, which can only be considered as a step in the right direction and a tuneful coming of age.
A considerable chunk of the band's creative force was removed with the departure of Ariel Loh, who decided to pursue other musical aspirations, but Tunnel Vision made it out in one piece and the whole collaborative input from all involved still keeps us enthusiastic about the future for Stone Cold Fox.
‘Contagion’ kicks the EP off and serves as a good starting point for what’s to follow. It highlights the sound shift from the old and the expert mix tells us that there is no going back. Aaron Hamel’s exquisite use of the hi-hat and toms alone makes this a journey worth exploring. The snare snaps are accentuated by machine pads and, to what at one point during the creative process would have been an all out rocker, the added synths and keyboards lend way to a genre that the band themselves might label distorted disco.
Follow up track ‘Firing Squad’ was penned by Kevin Olken Henthorn during a bout of seasonal depression in a wintry NYC and a Woody Allen movie marathon at the end of last year. Kevin says "it began as a very slow acoustic version, all miserable and shit. And I showed it to Ariel and he was like, Wait, why don’t we just make this faster? If you’ve heard the song by now, then you’ll notice it is definitely not an old sad bastard song anymore”.
It’s a concept not just fundamental to the sound of Tunnel Vision, but by the stages of the song writing process. Likely starting as acoustic before the band repositions them as rockers that are ready to undergo the process of pointed focus on retro-cool electro whilst maintaining the core principle and emotional sustenance.
There is an altogether lighter, hazy feel to ‘Morning Light’ with the rhythm section creating dead space to let single notes ring out that attract your attention but inviting you to use your own imagination. The keyboards are more prominent on ‘Change My Mind’ which just about makes it an all out pop track from the '80s. A track that was maybe lucky to ever see the light of day had it not been for persistence. With Kevin and Ariel beginning it while tripping on acid in the sunroom of a cabin it never got past a couple of lines and having shelved it numerous times, it took the full two years to eventually complete.
The only unreleased track from the EP is the disc curtain caller ‘Polyethlene’ and it might just be the strongest track on it. With shades of Kings Of Leon at the intro, the drums, bass and dry pulsing synths – think a late night drive by city neon signs - provide a solid rhythmic chassis allowing Kevin to manoeuvre with thoughtful guitars and airy vocals.
Although Tunnel Vision may not be an EP that is crashing through the usual boundaries or venturing into the unknown, it does do a good job of containing warmth and subtlety and manages to never sound overblown or derivative.
Tunnel Vision is available to stream below.