Since striking out on their own as The Autumn Defense, Wilco bassist John Stirratt and multi-instrumentalist Pat Sansone have seen their soft-rock side compared in Rolling Stone to Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and the slower side of Big Star. But the lead-off track to The Autumn Defense's new self-titled effort is actually closer in spirit to Traffic than Big Star or the duo's day gig, with its melancholy flute and its Latin percussion. Mostly, though, this album finds Stirratt and Sansone reveling in a fondness for the early '70s, with some songs almost hinting at the kind of folk-inspired chamber-pop that makes Nick Drake songs sound so sweet when they pop up on every third commercial, and other songs suggesting a number of Steely Dan records in someone's collection. According to interviews, Stirratt and Sansone initially got the group together after bonding over Love's Forever Changes and The Zombies' Odessey and Oracle. Which is certainly reason enough to start a side band. But they also openly invite comparisons to Bread, then make good on those comparisons. If quiet is indeed the new loud, The Autumn Defense could damned well be the Blue Cheer of its generation.
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