The Autumn Defense is an indie band, composed of multi-instrumentalists John Stirratt and Pat Sansone.
Stirratt is best known for his work as bassist for alt-country bands Wilco and Uncle Tupelo while Sansone has worked Joseph Arthur and Josh Rouse.
Their first album, The Green Hour, had Stirratt doing the bulk of the writing while Sansone focused on the technical recording aspects.
Since the release of their 2003 album, “Circles,” Sansone has joined Stirratt as part of Wilco’s current six-man lineup.
The latest Autumn Defense album, “Once Around,” is a formidable tapestry of thoughtful, intricate sunshine wrapped around a core of timeless, experienced songwriting. It’s the kind of record that needed to be made, for the audience but also for the artists.
The majority of the album was inspired Stirratt and Sansone were in New Zealand last year to record the Seven Worlds Collide charity LP with singer/songwriter Neil Finn and a host of other talented musicians.
“The experience in New Zealand was instrumental in this,” Sansone recalls. “We were spontaneously writing new songs, having other musicians that we really respect recording with us and reacting so positively to the Autumn Defense material.”
The result is a distinctly Autumn Defense record, full of lush melodic textures, invitingly delicate pop arrangements and frequents nods to the AM gold, soul and radio rock that dominated the group’s formative years.
But the band has also had its ear to the groundswell of modern independent music.
“Seeing a lot of the newer, vocal based groups like Grizzly Bear and Fleet Foxes makes me appreciate the vocal sound that we’ve always had,” Stirratt notes. “It’s prompted me to highlight the harmony aspect of our group even more than before.”
While those groups are currently selling out theaters and headlining festivals, the Autumn Defense is content to quietly lead the resurgence of the Laurel Canyon folk movement, much as they have for nearly a decade.
Trends in pop music come and go like the fashions that accompany them, and rare is the outfit that knows itself well enough to hang its hat on the belief that melody, harmony and a healthy record collection are the foundational elements of great music.
The Autumn Defense embodies a sound that doesn’t worry about fitting into the current independent cannon, chiefly because it’s a sound that never goes out of style.