When: Wed., Sept. 7, 8 p.m. 2011
Because John Stirratt and Pat Sansone are both in Wilco, the Autumn Defense is something of a side project for them (Sansone joined Wilco in 2004, six years after he and Stirratt started the Autumn Defense). But on their fourth album, last year's Once Around (Yep Roc), they prove the group is no time-killing lark—they seem to take as much care with the Autumn Defense as they do with Wilco, if not more. Both Stirratt and Sansone are keen students of early-70s pop, and it's hard to miss the defining influences of Big Star and Bread in their immaculately crafted, ambling vocal harmonies and hook-crammed melodies. Thanks to overdubbing, the album provides rich, shifting arrangements for their overtly retro tunes, with layers of acoustic and electric guitars cushioned by strings, keyboards, and lovely backing vocals. The band's live show is more direct and a bit harder, but whether in the studio or onstage, Stirratt and Sansone sing like a couple of brothers who've been harmonizing with each other since they were kids. In this week's Artist on Artist, Sansone interviews Davey Pierce, bassist for Of Montreal, who play the North Coast Music Festival on Sun 9/4. —Peter Margasak Plush and Dorian Taj open.