It’s rare for one of our favorite bands to sneak out an album without telling us, but in the case of Foxhole, it’s understandable; the Kentucky band’s last release was in 2006, a full five years before we existed. Yes, post-rock fans, this is indeed the Foxhole of We the Wintering Tree, which was included in our popular feature, The 25 Best Winter Albums of All Time. A dozen years means a lot of personal changes: births, deaths, new relationships, a shifting global climate. Thankfully, the sound of the band hasn’t changed all that much. The brass is still there – hurrah! – along with a languid vibe that reminds us how we felt, once upon a time, before everything got so loud and divided. The titles of the LP and remix EP remind us that there are some things worth keeping: civility, beauty, connection, community, all symbolized by the band’s incredible consistency.
Listening is a comfort and an encouragement. Foxhole fans may recall how they felt in those younger days, experiencing a certain wistfulness. Newcomers may ask, “Where has this band been all my life?” All will be treated to a warm style of post-rock, with the timbre of a living room jam session. “After the Walk” starts things off like a fireplace in a hearth, “do-dos” crackling atop the dried wood. The band can still roll; but can they still rock? Listeners won’t have to wait long to find out, as “Count Basie and His Daughter’s Shoes” puts the electric bass in one speaker and the electric guitar in the other before kicking out the jams. When the brass arrives, you’ll want to turn this one up. The aforementioned warmth is not lost; but enough heat is added to change the color of the flame.
“Noble Scales” is one of three tracks to receive the remix treatment on the Keeper EP. The original’s burgeoning four-note theme fills the room with depth, while Daniel DeWitt’s remix amplifies the bass and beat and stutters the percussion. When the theme enters, it contains even more power than it did at first. One is reminded of the best tracks of Linkin Park’s Reanimation. “Something or Other,” on the other hand, should have been left alone; Waco Bell’s short rap may fit the tempo, but it battles the theme. Album closer “Pine Resin Transfer, Amber Hands” is twice transformed by Murphy DX and o8o8o8. The lovely operatic vocal of the original is transferred to the latter, but not to the former; it’s worth preserving. To lose each other is to lose ourselves. The original is the finest, bursting into a cathartic brass and guitar finale, but the remixes add something to the equation: a 65dos vibe from o8o8o8, an EDM brightness by Murphy DX.
The album is filled with highlights, from the languid “Enlist Now” to the trumpet-blasting “Gottlieb’s Dragon” and “Calm Blood.” Well Kept Thing is indeed a keeper, and the splattered vinyl is a treat as well. As much as the world has changed since 2006, it’s good to know that some things remain the same. Our faith has been renewed. (Richard Allen)