Carlsbad’s Red Fox Tails are a veteran instrumental quartet that has built a sound upon influences that has included surf guitar, brass band, jazz, and funk. Their latest EP is Abeuelos, and it gives listeners a broad sampling of the group’s versatility. The six songs are all group originals, played by J.P. Balmat (sax, clarinet), Felipe Benavides (guitars, mandolin), Ron Bocian (drums), and Jay Reilly (bass).
Balmat and Benevides’ abilities to weave in and out of the spotlight on these tracks makes them work; the songs aren’t very long, but each of these aces is able to lay down their solo credentials. “Abuelita” opens, and clarinet notes wrap themselves around a central guitar statement conveying mystery as percussion takes the tune to an exotic location-then echo-drenched mandolin lines take their turn. Next up, “Shizuoka” takes the ideas of the opener into a more grounded jazz exercise.
“TJ Cab Ride” is bursting with energy as the sax lays down some dirty solo lines in preparation for some sizzling lead guitar, then back to Balmat for more–covering a lot in just over three minutes. There is a definite Latin vibe to “Fiesta,” with superb drums and percussion providing the bottom for Balmat to soar again, and for Benevides to play some surf-inspired scales on the disc highlight. The brisk energy remains switched on for “AC On,” which has a jazz-rock heartbeat and yet another catchy hook that gives these musicians another chance to shine–one of many on this EP with no slow spots by Red Fox Tails.