THE FAUXTONS – Inclusive Or

CD Reviews 02 Aug 2016

The Fauxtons EP coverTHE FAUXTONS – Inclusive Or

(2016 Self-Release)


You can buy the album here.

The Fauxtons will celebrate the release of Inclusive Or on Friday, August 1st at the High Noon Saloon. This is a patio show so is early (6pm) and there is no cover.


Madison women are simply kicking ass in musical terms. There may not have ever been a time when that is more true than now, at least in numbers and momentum. Ask anyone who their idea of strong and admirable female musicians might be and they will surely have Annelies Howell on the list. Howell formed the German Art Students in 1997, one of the city’s most-loved and longest-running rock bands. Their quirky nature and Howell’s energetic stage presence also make them one of the more entertaining live groups. Howell also performs in several tribute bands including Gold Dust Women, a Fleetwood Mac homage that won a Madison Area Music Award this year. She’s also involved with Girls (and Ladies) Rock Camp.

Howell also has a family to attend to with husband Danny Hicks, a guitarist currently playing in BingBong. Howell decided to form the Fauxtons in 2014 in order to collaborate with Hicks. Inclusive Or is the Fauxtons’ first recording with all songs written by Howell who also recorded, mixed and co-produced with Hicks. The band has already seen some change-ups. Two former members of Jim James and the Damn Shames play on the EP, drummer Brian Bentley and bassist/vocalist Michael Gruber. Gruber has already moved on which is a bit of a shame since his bass playing and backup vocals add quite a lot to the EP’s six songs. The Shabelles’ bassist Patrick Sieben has taken over bass while Kelly Maxwell (Little Red Wolf / VO5) has joined as vocalist.

Howell explains the band’s ethos as such: “A photon is a particle of light…that also behaves like a wave. The dual nature of light fascinates physicists. The dual nature of people fascinates a songwriter. People often have an impulse to say that either A or B is true, and forget that both can be true. Ringo gets it. In A Hard Days’ Night, when asked if he was a mod or a rocker, he replied, “’A mocker!’”

Though the music on Inclusive Or is a folky pop-rock concoction, it probably has a little more leaning toward Tom Petty than the Fab Four. Take the EP’s edgiest tune “How Do You Know,” for example, where the jangly guitars are driven by a relentless beat and a catchy melody. The closing track, “Still Waters” allows Hicks to let loose on the guitar and rocks with surf-y new-wave intensity. The rest of the songs are mid-tempo musings on life and, as the press kit states, the duality of people. “Holy Roller” stands out; a smooth-sounding tune with ample harmony vocals, emphasizing Gruber’s contributions.

Lyrically the music examines a variety of topics. There is the struggle with dogma on “Holy Roller (I’m selfish and I’m shallow / I ought to live the straight and narrow / A set of rules that need no thinking / Look in the mirror without blinking).  Howell does hard self-examination on “Lost Yesterdays (It’s never the time or the place / She’s all grown up and puts on a brave face / The old her never escaped / It’s hidden away beneath layers of paint… / What good is youth anyway / How old is too old to play / She still gets carried away / In all those lost yesterdays). The long-term relationship gets similar treatment in “Rewriting History” (We got together I wrote a story / We spent a lifetime inside of me / Funny how life doesn’t live up to the dream / Funny how love turns cold and mean).

The Fauxtons are likely to crank these tunes up a few notches in live performance. The music may not completely bowl you over but there are plenty of relatable reference points and enough drive to make you forget about the mess you probably live in. One thing is for certain though, if it’s coming from Anneleis, it’s coming from the heart.

the fauxtons pic


About the author

Rick Tvedt

Rick is publisher of Local Sounds Magazine, formerly Rick's Cafe, Wisconsin's Regional Music Newspaper. He is also the Executive Director for MAMA, Inc., a non-profit organization that produces the Madison Area Music Awards and raises funds to promote youth music programs.

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