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Photo by Jade Ehlers

Baraboo, Wisconsin is not what you’d call a cultural mecca. A rural town known primarily for its large press houses, it’s the type of place where you have to make your own fun. It’s no surprise, then, that PHOX hails from those wooded hills. They sound as if their sound developed in relative isolation, the product of disparate personalities meshing their tastes and their families’ record collections, irrespective of whatever trends might be developing in Brooklyn or L.A.

PHOX’s new track “Slow Motion” is something of a marvel, and a fitting microcosm of the band’s sound in general, which can juxtapose dixieland with folk with heavy rock grooves. It careens from sound to sound, somehow balancing Mumfordy rock-folk elements, whistling, handclap percussion, and hints of ‘70s sitcom themes in harmony with Monica Martin’s breathy yet soulful vocals, which themselves flirt with comparison with everyone from Alison Krauss to Roberta Flack. This description might make it seem like a mess, but what they do sounds effortless, organic, singular, and new.

An opening gig for The Lumineers at 2013’s iTunes Festival reveals the band to be as good live as their music promises, rollicking and passionate and genuine. If your tastes run toward the folkier side of contemporary rock, PHOX are essential listening. »

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– Eric Evans