Lucius in Colorado
When: Saturday, May 14 at 9 p.m.
Where: Gothic Theatre, 3263 S Broadway, Englewood
More info: www.gothictheatre.com; ages 16+
Twin hairstyles and wardrobes are more than a visual gimmick for Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, frontwomen of Lucius. The look is meant to emphasize their unity as singers — Lucius' best quality and the best reason to come back for the band's sophomore record.
Whether belting the melody as one or in perfectly calibrated harmony, their voices are at the heart of Lucius' swooping retro pop. When Lucius debuted Wildewoman in 2013, their appeal lied in the music's folksy, breezy feel.
In the years since — after that album's success launched Lucius into tours, late night shows and mid-sized billings at major music festivals — Wolfe and Laessig have all but abandoned that feeling in their songwriting. On Good Grief, the longtime friends dug deeper and unearthed a lot of turmoil.
Lead single "Born Again Teen" turned out to be a red herring — one of the few purely joyful moments on a record that features its vocalists coming ever more unhinged as they sing, "I can be the one who's gone insane." Most of these songs were born in the stormy patches of relationships and feel like emotional release. Wolfe and Laessig have channeled their considerable vocal power into something even more cathartic. "Madness" recounts an anxiety dream; "What We Have (To Change)" contemplates a breakup; "Gone Insane" embodies a fight; and "My Heart Got Caught on Your Sleeve" quietly admits: "Smoked another cigarette, 'cause even though I quit / I'd do about just anything to pacify my own torment."
Still, Good Grief is not a dour record. Lucius turned up the glam and bombast, and made everything bigger. Instrumentalists Dan Molad, Andrew Burri and Peter Lalish deliver maximalist, synth-driven pop, giving their singers a sturdy platform from which to belt. They joined the crowd making this kind of '80s-tinged pop. But with their own vocal stamp on it, it might not get lost.
—Ashley Dean, HeyReverb.com
Emmy the Great
To label Emmy the Great as an anti-folk staple is much like calling a pineapple tangy on the inside and full of spikes on the outside; the sheer image is an obvious, accurate-enough painting of the goings-on, but, peeling back the layers upon each subsequent taste, it starts to become more and more obvious that there is something more to the entire ensemble. In the case of Emma-Lee Moss' first full studio release in five years, Second Love, our beloved itinerant wanderer finds herself expanding further within the realm of post-modern musicality with, thematically speaking, an emphatic dosage of analyses of technology and its effect on the world in terms of love and heartbreak.
Dark subject matter marries ironically twee arrangements and vocal deliverances once again, making for some distinctively "Emmy" subject material straight out of the gate, but the abundances of electric, full-bodied musical influences remain abound throughout Second Love in a way most unlike the girth of her previous efforts. Perhaps it's been Moss' extended travels throughout Los Angeles, New York, Hong Kong and other modern cities in her years between releases that have extended her sound into previously unexplored avenues.
Opening track "Swimming Pool" maintains lush variances of synth-based percussion and bassy nu hip-hop-esque backing vocals alongside a muted, resonant acoustic guitar that seems to perfectly sum up the dichotomy between her earlier efforts and her latest contribution. Follow-up "Less Than Three" carries a heftier dosage of her trademark sarcasm, with repetitious lyricism and a down-tempo, groovy chill separating it significantly from her previous work altogether. "Algorithm" and "Hyperlink" seem to maintain similar themes of abhorring today's "romance" tying handily into modern tech.
—Jonathan Frahm, PopMatters.com
Other notable releases:
Jeff Buckley, You and I
3 Doors Down, Us and the Night
Dalhous, The Composite Moods Collection Vol. 1: House Number 44
Killswitch Engage, Incarnate
Penny and Sparrow, Let a Lover Drown You
Pete Yorn, ArrangingTime