For any band, it's terrifyingly easy to get lost in the shuffle, especially in a city as vast as Chicago. Setting yourself apart, or even finding kinship with other like-minded acts, are tough tasks with all the booking and promotion that needs to be done. But from the start, it seems The Fox & The Hounds have never had such issues. Self-billed as "Chicago's only burlesque rock n' roll band," the area sextet create seductive and sensual sounds with elements of high-drama classic rock, baroque chamber pop and cabaret-style performance. There truly is nothing like them in the Windy City, and upon the release of their debut album, they're well on their way to making their mark.
Lead vocalist and songwriter Kendel Lester, who has worked with Styx's Dennis DeYoung, wraps each song in a flamboyant, commanding coo as she's backed by a small army of top-notch performers mixing dark themes with the whimsy of a Broadway musical. Rounded out by bassist Ira Ochs, guitarist Mike Sviokla, guitarist Conrad James, vocalist Crystal Corrine and drummer Tony Panico, the band has a countless array of genres and feels to pull from, and The Fox & The Hounds' self-titled debut album reflects this at every turn. The driving "Gypsy Fever" creates a world where a powerful act like Heart can shake hands and play nice with today's folk-pop of Beirut, whereas the five-minute running time "Nothing Left to Lose" allows the song to morph from hushed piano ballad to thunderous orchestral rock, climaxing in the kind of unrelenting group vocals that have attracted fans of Arcade Fire. The album is sure to entice listeners of all ages and musical backgrounds, which when you consider how so many Chicago bands seemed chained to their genre, is no small feat. For a debut, it's even more impressive.