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Last Minute Plans: The Autumn Defense At Lincoln Hall

By Lizz Kannenberg in Arts & Entertainment on Jun 17, 2010 6:20PM

Chances are you know who John Stirrat and Pat Sansone are. You've seen them around - be it sipping a drink at Danny's or performing on Saturday Night Live with their "side project" Wilco. But these two local legends were making music together far before the world tours, Grammy awards and network television producers came calling, in a tidy, throwback-inspired duo called The Autumn Defense.

Now nine years and four albums later, including 2003's critically lauded Circles, Stirrat and Sansone are still enjoying the freedom their day jobs offer to explore a dusty, cozy library of 60's and 70's pop sounds. We'll offer up as prime evidence the warm, sunshine syrup songwriting that dominates the band's fourth full-length effort, Once Around. A perfect Sunday morning collection of references to the music its members grew up on, Once Around feels like a well-worn favorite t-shirt - you've heard it before, even on the first spin. And that's a good thing.

The album kicks off with the almost yacht rock-meets latter day Beatles piano drive of "Back of My Mind," which gives way to the muscular string arrangements of "Allow Me." Though the AD is foremost a pop band, the pair's alt-country roots show through the AM golden sheen to lend a rollicking backbone to "Tell Me What You Want."

The back half of the album is as warm and fuzzy as a weekend brunch Mimosa, with the subtle calypso rhythms of "Don't Know" and Stirrat's lovely vocal turn on the Laurel Canyon folk of "There Will Always Be A Way."

It shouldn't be a secret that The Autumn Defense is a study in pop musicianship, but what's surprising is how under the radar these guys fly. Consider tonight an up close and personal opportunity to see two of Chicago's finest players at work.

The Autumn Defense Lincoln Hall tonight with Kevin Junior, 9:00 p.m., $15, 21+