Outside of the music, Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig aren’t actually sisters, but by dressing identically and singing in unison, there really isn’t any reason to think otherwise. The two female vocalists met in 2005 when they attended Berklee College of Music in Boston and developed a mutual respect for each other’s talents and music taste (which included The Beatles and David Bowie, some old-school soul). The New York Times once referred to their music as “an art school take on girl group soul”. Behind their matching voices there are also three other members of the band, all gentlemen who occasionally add in vocals, named Dan Molad (drums), Peter Lalish (guitar and formerly apart of indie-rock group Elizabeth & the Catapult), and Andrew Burri (guitar). After graduating Berklee College of Music in 2007, Wolfe and Laessig moved to Brooklyn, where they eventually met the rest of the band and lived in a giant house that had been a music school and recording studio 60 years prior to their lease.
Mom + Pop Music, an independent record label based out of New York City, released Lucius’ first full album in October of 2013, it was titled Wildewoman. Play It Again Sam, a Belgian independent record label released the same album to Europe in late March of 2014. In addition to their debut full album, they also released an EP in February of 2012, which included one single, “Genevieve”, and the rest appeared on Wildewomen. Technically, Wildewomen wasn’t actually Lucius’ first album; it was their first with all the current members. Back in 2009, when Lucius was just made up of Wolfe and Laessig, they released Songs from the Bromley House, music that was reminiscent of sad and folk-like harmonies. The band has since stated on their Tumblr that they had no intention of releasing it again, as the album was from a different era when the band had a different foundation.
Songs from the Bromley House is definitely a thing of the past. After the album was released, both Wolfe and Laessig needed a drastic directional change in their music. That’s when Danny Molad, the quintet’s current drummer, also a producer, and the now husband of Wolfe came along. He was the turning point for the band’s direction. Once Molad joined, Lalish and Burri would soon follow and Lucius’ music started creating a whole new genre. Jess, Holly, and Danny started recording the album almost three whole years before its release date. Now we can characterize their music as a 2 flavored ice cream sundae with a mix of 1970’s glam rock, 1960’s girly-baroque pop, and some 1980’s synth-pop sprinkled on top. Their songs now are very similar to some older close-harmony singing groups such as The Shangri-Las, The Roches, and The Andrew Sisters.
Wildewomen has a very distinctive cover and used artwork created by the 1960’s Belgian pop-artist, named Evelyne Axell. The art piece was called “Ice Cream 1” and can be seen as a very striking piece. Lucius got in contact with her son, who interviewed Holly & Jess for a piece he was doing on his Mom. In the words of Holly and Jess, Axell was a really cool, inspirational female artist. It’s funny because Axell’s son told them that she had a really big thing for two women that dressed the same. Holly & Jess didn’t know that, so it was very exciting and enthralling unpredicted compliment to hear.
After Austin City Limits this weekend, Lucius is embarking on a European tour covering many countries and different cities from Gothenburg to Dublin, to Milano. Then in December, they will be back in the New York metropolitan area. It’s unsure what’s in store after their New York tour dates, but if they come to your area, I highly recommend you attend their show. Holly and Jess rock the same dress and hairdo that Evelyne Axell had once visualized, and the men in the back sometimes are all dressed identically in tuxedos, or something that’s contrasting to the colorful lead vocalists. I caught them earlier this year at Sasquatch! Music Festival and if you haven’t gotten the point already, their live shows are irresistible, they show the crowd as much appreciation as the crowd shows them, and on top of that, their unison melodies and upbeat stomping percussion sets up the best of moods.
By Ben Schechter