January 22, 2014
Written by Jeff Ignatius on RiverCitiesReader.com

The Des Moines band Foxholes formed in late August 2012, and its first album is set to be released March 1. Can’t Help Myself is a surprisingly mature work, in the sense that a band this new has a clear sonic identity – rooted in late-’80s/early-’90s alternative rock – yet it doesn’t use its touchstones as crutches; the songs in no way suggest a group trying to find its feet over its first year-plus, or an ensemble beholden to its influences.

But the quartet – which will be performing its first show outside of the Des Moines and Ames areas at Rozz-Tox on February 1 – has indeed been a work in progress. And with a second full-length album planned for later this year, it’s evident that Foxholes moves quickly.

Founder and songwriter/singer/guitarist Trevor Holt said via e-mail that neither he nor bassist Jessica Villegas had played in bands before Foxholes formed. “Jessica didn’t even play bass prior to joining the band, so it took some time to figure out how to put on a good show, how to network, etc.,” Holt wrote. “Over the course of that time, we figured out what worked and what didn’t in terms of the set list and even the structure of the songs themselves. That was the biggest thing to come out of that first year – the development of the songs. Had we recorded this album a year ago, I can honestly say that it would not have been good. The sound would have been there, but it would have been an unfinished product. We really took the time to continually develop the songs ... .”

Drummer Ben Barndollar – who moved to Des Moines from the Quad Cities – said that because many of the songs were originally written prior to Foxholes coming together as a band, they’ve had the time and space to evolve. Holt “had these songs in his head for a while,” Barndollar said. “Although the band’s new, his ideas and his vision have been around for a while.”

The group describes itself on Facebook as what would result “if Pixies and the Replacements had a baby, and then that baby was dropped on its head a bunch of times,” but those cheeky references sell it short. Foxholes’ listed influences are undeniable, but the band has the conviction, creativity, and chops to own its sound and never comes across as nostalgic for the heyday of 120 Minutes – although it might make listeners pine for the era.

Holt called the band’s songs “dark, atmospheric, guitar-centric music,” and said his vision evolved from garage punk to “songs that have a bit more development and space.”

“So It Goes ... ,” for instance, is straightforward and simple jangle pop, but its use of mandolin (particularly when it’s paired with a gently moaning electric guitar and the bass) and Holt’s careful vocals (simultaneously weary and loaded with lament) are detailed and expressive. (While the album won’t be availble until its release date, you can hear its opening and closing songs at FoxholesDSM.Bandcamp.com.)

And then there’s the pleasure of a weird touch, such as the first solo of “Arizona” – where the playing sounds like it’s done on a guitar, but the tone is pure synth. It’s Kyle Folvag’s guitar, incidentally, and Holt called him “the best guitarist in Des Moines. I think I can say that ... because I consider myself the worst guitarist in Des Moines.”

The chorus of “Dirty Motels” is too nakedly reminiscent of Dinosaur Jr. in its vocals and guitars, but even that doesn’t qualify as a misstep; the refrains on that song and “Echoes” are simply too catchy to be denied.

By the time the album closes with “Minotaur” – which seems to channel the vocals of Lou Reed and Kurt Cobain in equal measure, and finally the guitar of AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” – you might think Foxholes has spent a lot of time living in the past – or at least borrowing from it.

But that’s only a problem if one chooses the wrong influences, or combines them in ways that don’t work well. Foxholes has neither of those problems.

Foxholes will perform on Saturday, February 1, at Rozz-Tox (2108 Third Avenue, Rock Island;RozzTox.com). The 9 p.m. all-ages show also includes Tambourine and TV Magic, and admission is $5.

For more information on Foxholes, visit Facebook.com/foxholesdsm.

Read the full article at http://www.rcreader.com/music/foxholes-in-rooms-rozz-tox/

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