The Autumn Stones – Escapists
The saxophone. A deep resonance, rich, vibrant and mellifluous.
I personally love the saxophone, and co-incidentally, have seen 2 videos cropping up again recently on social media of buskers playing sax which both had me enthralled. I often scan videos on social media, but both of these I watched all the way through, then did it again.
The sound and look of a sax being played just has something that draws me in.
Over the years there have been many great alternative/rock bands and/or songs that have used the sax to great effect. From the obvious – bands like Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Madness and countless ska/ska punk bands, through the melodic punk squall of X Ray Spex “Oh Bondage, Up Yours”, Psychedelic Furs, Hazel O’Connor and the magnificent “Will You”, the talented Mr Michael Monroe of Hanoi Rocks fame and in more recent years, I have also been drawn to Melt Yourself Down. That list merely scratches the surface.
Suffice to say, I like a wee bit o’ saxophone.
The Autumn Stones
With this in mind, Canada’s The Autumn Stones this is one of several boxes they tick for me. The saxophone being an integral part of their sound. This gives them a sophisticated edge and adds another layer to their 80’s influenced indie/post punk sound. A fact which sets them apart from other bands of the genre.
The band aren’t new, second album “Escapists” (and my introduction to the music of The Autumn Stones) was released in July 2015. They are however “new to me” so that’s as good as any reason to feature them on my blog.
The Autumn Stones are Ciaran Megahey – vocals/guitar, Gary Butler – horns, Matthew McLaughlin – drums and Michael Newton – bass.
The 9 tracks on offer here, from the opening “Time is a River” with wistful opening sax and bass and Ciaran’s soulful vocal through to the build to a final crescendo of “Dark Age” all have something different to hook the listener and reel them in.
There are various points of reference for me on the album Morrissey/The Smith in parts and a nod to Gene’s Martin Rossiter in others. Jangly guitars reminiscent of early folky James from their Stutter/Strip-Mine era.
The band give a nod to The Wedding Present on the Christopher Hitchens influenced “Endless War”. Fast-paced strummed guitar and driving bass are complemented by harmonic sax.
The simplicity of the reverb guitar and rhythmic bass of “End of Faith” is overlaid once again with lead saxophone. Ciaran’s breathy vocal gives rise to Morrissey-like inflections. Particularly on the refrain “You’ve come a long, long way, but this is our day”. “Ooh La La” demonstrates more of these nuances in Ciaran’s voice.
In With the Out Crowd
Pop sensibilities of 80’s bands like Its Immaterial and The Lotus Eaters with indie guitar stylings come to the fore on tracks like “In with the Out Crowd”, “Sweet Libertine”. & “Creatures”. The band wouldn’t have sounded out of place alongside the likes of The Jazz Butcher, The Weather Prophets and Jasmine Minks on classic Creation/indie compilation “Doing it for the Kids”.
“Spirit Shadows” & “Dark Age” show a brooding darker/harder edge to the band’s sound and lyrics, leaning more towards a post-punk goth-like bombastic sound that reveals the bands other influence, Echo and the Bunnymen. The rise and fall of “Dark Age” to its final cacophonous climax is the perfect end to this accomplished album.
Find their music:
Get the album online at various outlets including iTunes, Spotify and Bandcamp.