Lucius. Lucius EP
iLoveLucius and The Orchard, 2012.
Lucius is a band with a sound as eclectic as their beginning. While the quintet hails from Brooklyn, New York, the individual members come from all over, the US including one from our very own Cleveland, Ohio. The thing that they do share is a passion for good tunes and a house with a strong musical history. After finding a home on Craigslist in a Victorian house, Holly and Jess learned of the house’s 60-year run as a recording studio, musical school, and recital venue, they filled it with more musicians and began the group that recently released its first EP and is set to release a full-length album later this year. That group is Lucius, and their sound is nothing short of luscious.
They’ve been compared to the sounds of Emmylou Harris, an early 1960’s girl band, and an alternate-universe Fleetwood Mac founded by Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie, and all of those descriptions have some truth to them. Their debut album is a four track self-titled EP, and they were recently on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert with those same songs re-ordered. Don’t in any way think that this small repertoire represents all that they do, though. A bit of research reveals some more of their music available on Reverb Nation (including a stunning rendition of Shenandoah) and Sound Cloud. They also have a version of Wayfaring Stranger on The Storm is Passing Over, a compilation CD to benefit Occupy Sandy featuring new artists and musical monsters like Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn. It’s still not a huge selection, but hopefully enough to tide you over until the next release or a tour date near you.
In the Tiny Desk concert, Go Home starts easy and breezy, very much a sweet girl-band sound, and gets more rambunctious about half way through without ever crossing into angry or dark. Don’t Just Sit There keeps the energy level at the higher end of the spectrum, and slows down a bit for a break before revving up again to end on a high note. Turn It Around features some catchy a cappella parts, highlighted with clapping. When instruments do show up, they aren’t always the traditional instruments, adding in a healthy dose of shakers and other more playful pieces, and plenty of vocal gymnastics. The intro to Genevieve is a fun improvisational section with use of some “found” instruments around the NPR studio. It’s rhythmically driven and almost spoken word at times, with the melody playing a highlight instead of being a foundational element. Wayfaring Stranger on The Storm is Passing Over is a haunting melody to begin with, and verging on spooky in Lucius’s interpretation.
With their charismatic charm and quirky fashion sense, Lucius is a feast for the eyes and ears, and if the Tiny Desk concert is an indication, quite an act. They’re touring currently, and playing locally at the Beachland Tavern on March 21st, and Nelsonville Music Festival (formerly HockHocking Folk Fest) on June 1st. I’m aiming to get to at least one of these, and I can tell you that if you like the bands you hear about on Ear to the Ground, then try to get to Nelsonville. In the past, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, Justin Townes Earle and other musicians on ETTG have been in there, and it’s a great place to find new bands before they’re big. A year from now, when everyone else is talking about Lucius, you can say you heard it here first and really be the cool kid on the block.
Personnel: Holly Laessig (vocals), Jess Wolfe (vocals), Danny Molad (percussion), Peter Lalish (guitar, vocals), and Andrew Burri (guitar, vocals).
Tracks: Don’t Just Sit There; Turn It Around; Go Home; Genevieve