"Denver’s own Fox Street Allstars are dropping their second full length this month, and while fans of the band’s debut record Welcome To Mighty Pleasin’ will find a lot more of that soulful, funk-laced rock and roll, Tough Talk showcases a band that has aged well in short order and broadened their sound with a varied and well paced album.
“Too Good” opens the project with a chugging rhythm and sing-along chorus. It’s a powerful track that will stand up to repeated listens as it builds to a raging climax of squealing guitars and thundering drums, but the group truly dazzles on the slower bluesy cut “What I Know.” The number features the trademark whiskey-soaked vocals of lead singer Jonathan “Skippy” Huvard sweetened up a bit by The Black Swan Singers, whose dense layers of harmony give the song a unique and soulful undercurrent.
“Upstream” veers off down a dirt road in a decidedly country direction that features lead guitarist James Dumm on vocals. Admittedly, at first listen, the track sounds a little bit out of place on a funk and soul record, but in the end it’s one of the stronger tunes on the album.
While their originals pack a ton of punch, one of the highlights of this collection is a psychedelic eight-and-a-half-minute excursion into Stevie Wonder’s “Livin’ For The City.” The boys do Stevie proud with their take on the classic, with stellar solos from keyboard player Chris Speasmaker and saxman Nathan Peoples.
In the last third of the album, Speasmaker yields his piano bench to Joe Tatton of The New Mastersounds, for a take on the live favorite “Take It Or Leave It.” Fox Street then showcases their New Orleans influences on the playful “Saturday Night,” before paying tribute to Levon Helm by making The Band classic “The W.S. Walcott Medicine Show” their own and allowing Peoples to shine again on his horn.
Overall, this album is a very solid piece of work that showcases the band’s maturity in songwriting, playing and musicianship. From rowdy barroom rock to country shuffle to smooth R&B, Tough Talk has a little something for everyone, and those who still listen to albums from front to back will be thrilled with the variety packed into this project." — Timothy Dwenger of Marquee Magazine
ABOUT Fox Street Allstars: Make no mistake: the Fox Street Allstars (FSAS) reek of the roadhouses and West Texas honky-tonks of the deep south that inspired their signature sound. FSAS is a roller coaster of roadhouse blues interwoven with super-sized helpings of funk with elements of rock, soul and jazz and alt-country. No one really has any idea where front man Jonathan “Skippy” Huvard channels his soulful, whiskey soaked vocals and frenetic stage presence but the result is a blistering powerhouse of sound.
After hitting 20 Southeastern markets in just 24 nights in October of 2012, FSAS returned home to Colorado where they promptly sold out their end of year show. The band also sold out their New Year’s Eve show in Jackson, WY in advance at the Pink Garter Theatre. It’s full steam ahead as the band enters 2013 and begins touring for their sophomore release "Tough Talk."
"Tough Talk" was recorded over the summer of 2012 at Scanhope Sound in Morrison, CO and engineered by Josh Fairman (New Mastersounds, Ivan Neville, Kinetix). The album features Joe Tatton of The New Mastersounds on organ, pedal steel by Grammy-award-winner John Macy and The Black Swans on backup vocals and Bill McKay of piano (formerly of Leftover Salmon).
“It’s been an incredible last two years" Huvard said. "This second album has been a long time in the making, and we’re very proud of the results. We think it has a more mature and full sound and is a terrific reflection of where we are now as a band. Playing all over the country in the last year including headlining those 20 shows in a 24 day span across the Southeast in the Fall of 2012 really helped us come together and I feel we’re playing at a very high level right now. To see our New Year’s Eve show in Jackson, WY at the Pink Garter Theatre sell out in advance was a great feeling going into 2013. We expect this will be a big year for us.”
If their opening slots on multiple national tours with funk legends The New Mastersounds are any indication, the FSAS are a band that is poised to break through into the mainstream at any moment. There’s a reason why artists like Papa Mali, Robert Randolph, Brian Jordan, Nigel Hall, Stanton Moore, Tony Hall, Corey Henry, The Motet, George Porter Jr., and others have sat in extensively with the band: musicians realize these guys have serious chops and the sound is some serious fun.