The Autumn Defense features Patrick Sansone and John Stirratt of Wilco, a titanic modern rock band that casts a long shadow to escape from under. But now, with the release of its fifth studio record (out Jan. 28 on Yep Roc Records and aptly named Fifth), Autumn Defense deserves to be considered a band rather than merely a side project.
“It was great to finally spend some time in the studio tracking with the complete live band we’ve had for the last seven or so years,” Sansone says via press release. “We’ve been working with our drummer, Greg, for over a decade and having the rest of the guys with us really helped create the vibe of this album. Of all of our records, this one feels the most like the work of a band.”
Wilco first made a name updating country rock for a new generation. Since then, the group has become a sort of Midwestern Radiohead — known as much for sonic noodling and experimentation as pop songwriting. At the band’s heart, and arguably at its best, Wilco remains a pop group. It’s this sunny sensibility that Stirratt and Sansone explore with The Autumn Defense.
The advance single from the record, “None of This Will Matter,” is a prime example; a mid-tempo and melodic power-pop ballad, the song is finely and thoughtfully composed, recalling Brian Wilson, The Byrds, George Harrison, ’70s AM radio pop hits, Jeff Lynne of ELO and fellow retro power pop revivalists, the Pernice Brothers.
The Autumn Defense plays with Melville 8 pm Thursday, Jan. 30, at WOW Hall; $12 adv., $15 door. — William Kennedy