Album review: Dollar Fox - Little Mother's Things I Am Keeping

(Photo by Todd Zimmer)

First off, let me say this: Dollar Fox plays great music.  We’ll get deeper into that in a little bit here.  What I really want to start with is how warm it made my jaded musician heart to read the biography on their web site.  Too often these self-written, masturbatory passages are overflowing with clichés, trite phrases, and one big, smoke-filled asshole.  They applaud … something I guess, but rarely actually define or express the music in any way that actually means something.  Check your band’s.  If it says anything to the effect of “can’t be pinned down by one genre” or uses the words or synonyms of “groundbreaking” or “up and coming,” I suggest you give serious consideration to spending the first 15 minutes of your next band practice kicking each other in your stupid, stupid balls.
 
But Dollar Fox’s immediately made me want to listen.  It is heartfelt, articulate, and sincere.  They talk about serving the song above all else.  They talk about keeping their music pure, honest, and, most importantly, a direct reflection of themselves.  It is a perfect explanation of everything that is right about the core of musical expression.
 
So, I started off impressed without having heard a note.  Fortunately, the music is just as good, if not better.  Dollar Fox’s Little Mother’s Things I am Keeping is a superb collection of beautifully crafted music.
 
True, there are many bands out there riding the alt-country/folk-rock boxcar right now.  Dollar Fox is able to hold onto their ticket without falling into the pitfalls of this wildfire genre.  They apply a sly wisdom and reflection to a style of music too often crutched on group chanting and handclaps.  Thematically, the songs all tend to ride the good old “longing for love” or “weeping over love lost” trains, but through dynamic vocal performance and just witty enough phrasing, Dollar Fox is able to sell me on every fluttering heart palpitation or tear of agony.  Couple that with a perfect balance of impactful yet tasteful musicianship, and you get ten beautiful slices of heartfelt reality.  The true brilliance of this album is its ability to cut through all the pretenses and bullshit applied to modern music and just be a damn beautiful and honest batch of songs.
 
“Letter” is the perfect barnstorm of high energy folk rock to kick off the record.  The haunting, chugging strains of “Josephine” take the listener through the throes of scorn and regret.  “Don’t Remember Names” is just barely not a Tonic or Gin Blossom’s song, in a “vacations but doesn’t want to live there” kind of way.  “No Accords” tears at the heart like a guitarist trying to rip off a broken A string halfway through the first chorus.  “Keep it Straight” closes out the album with a playful and dancey two-step kick to the ass on the way out the door.
 
Money Wolf Records has put out some very solid releases this year (see also The Hillary Watts Riot, Alacartoona, The Peculiar Pretzelmen, among the others on the Money Wolf roster. With an innovative blend of ideas old and new, Dollar Fox is certainly a rising and consistent voice in the Kansas City scene (and beyond).  As long as they keep putting out records as good as this one, they are destined to be around for a long time.
 
Dollar Fox is playing its first round of shows since the album was released in late October. The group will be playing next Friday, January 11 at The Clarette Club in Mission, and Saturday, January 12 at recordBar for a dinner show with the Rumblejetts.
 

--Zach Hodson

 
Zach Hodson is a monster. He once stole a grilled cheese sandwich from a 4-year-old girl at her birthday party. He will only juggle if you pay him. I hear he punched Slimer right in his fat, green face. He knows the secrets to free energy, but refuses to release them until "Saved by the Bell: Fortysomethings" begins production.

He is also in Dolls on Fire and Drew Black & Dirty Electric, as well as contributing to various other Kansas City-based music, comedy, and art projects.