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Album Review

The Autumn Defense let down their guard on Circles, their second album, to reveal the blue-green beauty trembling beneath. Less ambitious and far more intuitive, it's a mellow stretch of earthy folk-pop, where horns and strings are used because they sound nice, not out of a self-appointed duty to past musical idols. Between John Stirratt's busy touring schedule with Wilco and Pat Sansone's multitude of production engagements, Circles exudes the ameliorative qualities of an escape record that was made during downtime, for downtime — while mentally liberated from the pressures of the daily world, where the two writers could reflect upon the geyser of circles that is life. Sunny acoustics and vintage keys over lazy brushes set the character throughout Circles. "The Answer" rolls out a strata of guitars that suddenly reminds the listener of an old Gordon Lightfoot album, only to have the notion reinforced by the wave of strings and gentle background shakers that follow. "Some Kind of Fool" steals into brief moments of Pet Sound drama, with its bass-and-percussion breaks, but more often rides a '70s groove of vibes, Rhodes, and Bread-like guitar effects. Though comfortably stoic on their second album, the Autumn Defense maintain the charm of a perennial explorer, for whom Europe is still far away, and the California sun could still bring love back. ~ Lisa M. Smith, Rovi


Formed: 2001 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s, '10s

The Autumn Defense arrived with the 21st century, capturing colors of a bygone era. Fronted by John Stirratt, longtime member of Wilco and formerly Uncle Tupelo, the Autumn Defense is the result of a collaboration between Stirratt and musical compatriot Pat Sansone (who has worked with Joseph Arthur, Swan Dive, and Josh Rouse, to name a few). Sharing roots in the Southern rock scene of the late '80s, the two converged a decade later in New Orleans after Stirratt's completion of the Mermaid Avenue...
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Circles, The Autumn Defense
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