My Morning Jacket's One Big Holiday

My Morning Jacket's One Big Holiday

My Morning Jacket (THREE Shows), Gary Clark Jr., Preservation Hall Jazz Band (TWO Shows), The Head and the Heart, Kurt Vile & The Violaters, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Deer Tick (TWO Shows - Acoustic Sunset Show + Late Night Show), Lucius

Sat, February 4, 2017 - Wed, February 8, 2017

12:00 pm

Hard Rock Hotel (Riviera Maya, Mexico)

Riviera Maya, Quintana Roo, Mexico

$1499 - $3499

My Morning Jacket's One Big Holiday
My Morning Jacket's One Big Holiday
My Morning Jacket is bringing their tropical concert vacation to Mexico for the 3rd edition of One Big Holiday! Enjoy the ultimate fan experience with the amenities of an all-inclusive resort and an incredible lineup at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya from February 4-8, 2017.

From MMJ:
We are thrilled to return to our One Big Holiday adventure!! With only the fondest of memories from our previous years scaling the cosmos of the Riviera Maya, we can’t wait to rejoin such a magical place with some of our favorite people. Excited to see our pals, old and new, all come together for music, art, magic and celebrating this thing we call life!
My Morning Jacket (THREE Shows)
My Morning Jacket (THREE Shows)
“The new record, Circuital, is named after the title song,” explains Jim James, of My Morning Jacket’s sixth studio album. “On that song I sing about ending up in the same place where you started out. And that makes a lot of sense for this album… I hate the phrase ‘going back to our roots’, but for this record we came home and made it in Kentucky. And it just felt a lot like it did when we were first starting out...”

My Morning Jacket formed at the tail-end of the 1990s, when Jim James’ group Month Of Sundays folded, and he began recording new songs with ex-members of local rockers Winter Death Club. At Above The Cadillac Studios – in reality, a shed on the grounds of guitarist Johnny Quaid’s grandparents’ farm – the group took shape, drawing upon their rich knowledge of classic rock, country, soul and psychedelia, and spinning these influences into fresh, life-affirming rock’n’roll and aching, haunting balladry. My Morning Jacket made their early reputation off the three sublime albums they recorded at Above The Cadillac – 1999’s The Tennessee Fire, 2001’s At Dawn and 2003’s It Still Moves – and legendary live shows that proved here was a truly magical group for the ages. It Still Moves marked a move to the major labels for the group, while its heavy touring cycle prompted the amicable exit of Quaid and keyboardist Danny Cash from the ranks.

Album number four, 2004’s Z, was a brave step outside of the group’s comfort zone, recorded in New York’s Catskill Mountains with the aid of respected producer John Leckie (Stone Roses, Spiritualized), and with new members guitarist Carl Broemel and keyboard player Bo Koster making their debut appearances on tape, their skilful performances swiftly proving themselves cut from the same cloth as their bandmates. The album also saw James stretch his song-writing chops beyond the familiar reference points of My Morning Jacket’s earlier work, an impulse he furthered with 2008’s Evil Urges, which scattered the group’s ragged rockers and tender, keening ballads with subtly sensual grooves and tracks that sounded like heavy metal laced with psychedelic soul and feral funk. Both albums helped grow ever-swelling following, a grass-roots movement that’s spread like wildfire in the wake of their many long and glorious tours, and already-legendary shows like their 4-hour 2008 Bonnaroo head-lining performance, which captured one of the world’s greatest rock’n’roll groups at their most masterful and alive.

Circuital is the first album the group have made in Kentucky since It Still Moves, recording it in the gymnasium of a Louisville church under the aegis of producer Tucker Martine. Jim bonded with Martine while recording backing vocals for Laura Veirs’ 2010 album July Flame, which Martine, Veirs’ husband, also produced. “We hit it off right away,” says Martine, who later helped set up a home studio in James’ Louisville home, where he’s working on a future solo album. “As a group, we’ve always been hoping to find ‘our guy’,” says James. “And we’ve worked with some great people, but we’d wanted to find someone who was, like, ‘one of us’. And Tucker fit in perfectly, and he had a whole set of skills we didn’t possess. He’s real smart, and fun to be with.”

Converting the gymnasium into a recording studio wasn’t an easy task, says Martine, but the extra effort yielded unique results. “It’s a big project, to record in a space like that. It has so many limitations, compared to working in a modern studio, but they were limitations we were all drawn to. The focus became on communicating and interacting, and not on what modern trickery we could use later.” At the group’s insistence, the album was recorded live, with few overdubs;
James’ vocals were recorded at the same time as the band’s performances. “We were going for full takes; we wanted everybody running back to the control room afterwards, freaking out and wanting to listen back to the take,”remembers James. “We’re A Band, and so I want our records to be made that way, with us being A Band. Capturing performances, that intangible thing between us, some kind of soul. When friends have been through as much as we have together… It’s not something I could even describe. We wanted to capture the sound of us just playing, being in the same place and just feeding off each other.”

“This is truly a great band, and they play so well together, it would be wrong not to document that,” adds Martine. For James, the new album finds a sweet understanding between the questing creative impulses of Evil Urges and the more familiar feel of My Morning Jacket’s earlier work. “The album’s like a rolling, gentle soundwave,” he says, in comparison to Evil Urges’ jagged edges. “But I don’t feel Circuital sounds like our earlier recordings. We’re always trying to go in new directions.” His memories of the sessions for Circuital are only fond. “There was no AC, no-one had their laptops. We recorded everything on tape. It was like, we’re just who we are, with what we have with us at the moment, and that’s all we have. It was a beautiful thing, and it really cemented what we all mean to each other, as people and as a band. We’ve learned, slowly over the years, how to function more healthily, I guess, so we don’t all combust. Making this record, it felt like our friendship was only strengthened.”
Gary Clark Jr.
Gary Clark Jr.
Ever since 2010, when Gary Clark Jr. wowed audiences with electrifying live sets everywhere from the Crossroads Festival to Hollywood’s historic Hotel Café, his modus operandi has remained crystal clear: “I listen to everything…so I want to play everything.” The revelation that is the Austin-born virtuoso guitarist, vocalist and songwriter finds him just as much an amalgamation of his myriad influences and inspirations. Anyone who gravitated towards Clark’s, 2011’s Bright Lights EP, heard both the evolution of rock and roll and a savior of blues. The following year’s full-length debut, Blak And Blu, illuminated Clark’s vast spectrum - “Please Come Home” is reminiscent of Smokey Robinson, while “Ain’t Messin’ Around” recalls Sly and the Family Stone. 2014’s double disc Gary Clark Jr–Live projected Clark into 3D by adding palpable dimension and transcendent power –– songs soared and drifted from the epic, psychedelic-blues of “When My Train Comes In” to his anthemic, hip-hop, rock-crunch calling card, “Bright Lights”, all the way down to the deep, dark, muddy water of “When The Sun Goes Down”.

There are a handful of folks who have informed for the mélange of genres and styles, which comprise the genius of Clark. One is Michael Jackson. It was on Denver stop of MJ’s Bad Tour where a four-year-old Gary’s life was altered after witnessing The King of Pop. By the sixth grade, Clark would own his first set of strings (Ibanez RX20).

As a teen, Clark began making a local name by jamming with adult musicians around nearby clubs. He struck a balance by singing in the church choir with his sisters. That gritty & sweet combination imbues the honey-thick soul that oozes from his vocals today. The eclectic Texas circuit, though, was Clark greatest university, where another culprit in the GCJ genesis lives: Clifford Antone, ambassador of the Austin music scene. Antone’s nightclub granted Clark the honor of sharing the stage with local blues heroes like Jimmie Vaughn, Hubert Sumlin Jr, and Pinetop Perkins. This on-the-job training, combined with studying licks by literal Kings like BB, Albert and Freddie, observing the mastery of Curtis Mayfield, Miles Davis, Hendrix, Marvin Gaye, Parliament-Funkadelic, and digesting the fresh edge of Tupac and Biggie, lifted the guitar prodigy up into a multi-instrumentalist, adept scribe, and undisputed music festival champ.

Now, after spending the last five years transforming audiences from the California desert to the London metropolis, acquiring fans like Barack Obama, Keith Richards, Alicia Keys and Beyoncé along the way, the 6’4 Texan needs to spread his musical wings and spectrum hues wider. This exhibition will be Clark’s second full-length worldwide album, The Story of Sonny Boy Slim due from Warner Bros. Records on September 11th. The title’s inspiration is one half Clark’s Southern roots––those singers and local musicians who saw the future in this young man ––and other half, his acting debut in John Sayles’ 2007 film Honeydripper. A 23-year-old Clark played the fictitious Sonny, (in fact, already his family-given nick-name), a young musician who transformed the blues and R&B into rock and roll. On his latest, Clark isn’t trying to reinvent any wheel. He’d rather deploy as many wheels as possible in order to lead music fans toward his favorite destinations.

“The Healing” mashes blues and hip-hop into the 21st century with a Marleyesque message of hope and faith. This journey of the soul hits Mississippi on the Delta jam of “Shake,” before pulling into the spiritual station of “Church,” serving gospel made with the purist folk elements: hypnotic strum, sweet harmonica, and aloud prayers as painful as they are beautiful (dare we say, Dylan-esque). “Grinder” makes musical graffiti out of fierce, freeform wah-wah screaming that spars with rap-tough urban tension. The code is completed once Clark’s chordophone wails a salute to all guitar gods.

What this body of work accomplishes that its predecessors hadn’t is spotlight Gary Clark Jr., the artist first -- as producer, singer-songwriter -- and string master second. His textured voice and eyes-wide writing hug listeners in with a disregard for time period other than the future. The reassuring “Our Love” could’ve easily been a standard in any decade past or present; “Down To Ride”, an avant-garde, soul love letter with its sensual falsetto, classic Casio synths, and outer-space guitar fade, fits into fresh unexplored sonic territories. The trippy flight “Wings” is Clark’s most modern flip as the Outkast fan is heard in his lyrical prime: “We got issues and people get misused/and girl I miss you/but I know that we’ll get through what we go through.”

Sterling songwriting is where Mr. Clark’s evolution is arrayed best. Never has his pen’s moonshine been so in tune with the times. The Lone Star diamond gleams brightest when he’s sketching then voicing his country’s current and evergreen socio-economic tensions simultaneously. When he’s progressing the art of blues by replacing hopeless conclusion with empathy and strength. When he’s reintroducing and redefining red, white, and blue music. “Hold On,” impressively captures the struggle of being African-American in any era by stirring a pungent punch of Curtis Mayfield, Gil Scott-Heron and Buddy Guy influence over some serious (and visual) commentary. “Seems like new news is the old news from a different angle/another mother on TV crying cause her boy didn’t make it/She said, What am I gon’ do? What I’m gon’ tell these babies?”

A 2015 reply is offered on the all-consuming space-age funk of “Star.” “I am devoted to seeing you shine on,” could be a message in falsetto from Clark to those babies, his country, his family, and his innermost self. With a musical palette as gracious and glorious as Gary Clark Jr’s, the target is most likely all of the above. As Clark put his mojo in full motion on the album’s opening track, “The Healing”, he eloquently states his subtle and underlying theme that “this music” is our hope, faith and ultimate healing.
Preservation Hall Jazz Band (TWO Shows)
Preservation Hall Jazz Band (TWO Shows)
Preservation Hall was founded in 1961 to promote traditional New Orleans jazz in all its authenticity. Legendary players like George Lewis, Sweet Emma Barrett and Kid Thomas Valentine, all rooted in the formative years jazz, were its original stars. That generation is long gone now, yet the hall is still in business and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band continues to tour the world.

Therein lies a paradox: how does an institution based on an early 20th century musical culture prosper in the 21st? When asked that question on the occasion of the Hall’s 50th anniversary, Creative Director Ben Jaffe had a ready answer: “This anniversary is about the next fifty years.”

For Jaffe, 41, this not just a business question: he’s carrying on a family tradition started by his parents, Allan and Sandra Jaffe, who were instrumental in founding the Hall and turning it into an internationally known cultural icon. When Ben took over the operation in 1995, he faced the challenge of keeping it going with a dwindling band of veteran musicians and an aging audience base. His solution has been to inject the touring band with new blood, bringing in some younger players with fresh musical ideas and to form collaborations with groups and musicians from outside the New Orleans tradition. In recent years, the PHJB has performed and recorded with a wide array of musicians, ranging from groups like My Morning Jacket, Tom Waits, Merle Haggard, Pete Seeger, and the Del McCoury Bluegrass Band. The culmination of this collaborative effort was the sellout 50th anniversary concert that the PHJB hosted at Carnegie Hall in January 2012.

This album breaks new ground for Ben and the PHJB: it’s the first time in the history of the band that it has recorded an album made up of entirely original material—most of it composed by Jaffe and members of his group. The album was co-produced by Ben Jaffe and Jim James, leader of My Morning Jacket, and encouraged by songwriters Paul Williams, Dan Wilson and Chris Stapleton, who co-wrote three of the titles with the band. Band members Charlie Gabriel, Rickie Monie, and Clint Maedgen also pitched in on some of the compositions.

Once the material was written and rehearsed, Jim James and his sound engineer Kevin Ratterman drove down from Louisville with a van full of equipment and set it up among the splintery wooden benches and smoky paintings in Preservation Hall. That recording session produced the eleven tracks on this historic album.

Though it was not unheard of in the past for Preservation Hall musicians to compose some of the music they performed—drummer Paul Barbarin wrote “Bourbon Street Parade” and clarinetist George Lewis wrote “Burgundy Street Blues,” for example—this album marks the first time that a substantial body of new music was created by the band and entered the Preservation Hall repertoire. This constitutes a rich lode of fresh material not only for the current members of the touring PHJB, but also for other musicians who play at the hall and may be inspired to pick up on some of these songs. In the heyday of the Jazz Age, New Orleans musicians learned new tunes all the time by listening to what their peers were doing in the dance halls and on their recordings. One of the aims of this album is to stimulate that kind of cross-pollination among today’s New Orleans jazzmen.

Though some traditional jazz purists may be surprised, the broader public will hopefully find this music engaging, enthralling—and irresistibly danceable. No one who hears Jaffe’s funky tuba lines, Joe Lastie’s backbeat drumming and the band’s groove on tunes like “The Darker it Gets” could doubt the group’s traditional New Orleans roots.

On the other hand, Clint Maedgen’s boozy “August Nights,” with it’s haunting tenor sax riffs and sultry muted trumpet work by Mark Braud, is a Tom Waits-like hymn to urban despair that would be at home on any barroom jukebox in the world. The punchy horn-section riffs on “Come With Me” and “That’s It” have a bite and exuberance that recall the Ellington big band sound. “I Think I Love You,” is a pop tune with a Caribbean beat and a smooth, sexy vocal by 80-year-old reedman Charlie Gabriel (with Jim James singing backup).

In addition to Gabriel, Ronell Johnson (“Dear Lord Give Me the Strength,” “Halfway Right, Halfway Wrong”) and Fred Lonzo (“Rattlin’ Bones”) turn in strong vocal performances that underscore the wide variety of talent this band embraces.

In short, “That’s It” is an eclectic album that draws on the collective experience of players nurtured in the New Orleans tradition but determined to build something fresh and exciting on that foundation. It marks an important milestone in Jaffe’s crusade to carry forward the Hall’s original mission while making it relevant to today’s audiences. For his part, co-producer Jim James is convinced that the PHJB has a future as vibrant as its past: “The music will speak forever,” he says. “Will people stop listening to Beethoven? Will people stop listening to Bob Dylan? Will people stop listening to the Preservation Hall Jazz Band?”

Not if Ben Jaffe can help it. “My parents were never preservationists in any strict sense,” he says. “They simply presented the music the way the old jazzmen wanted to play it. This is the music we want to play today. We’ll continue to do the old standards, along with new material that allows us to be creative and relevant. With this album, I wanted to do something that would challenge us and make us proud.” That’s it.
The Head and the Heart
The Head and the Heart
It wasn't that long ago that the members of Seattle's The Head and the Heart were busking on street corners, strumming their acoustic guitars, stomping their feet and singing in harmony as they attempted to attract the attention of passersby. That unbridled energy informed their earliest original material, which was honed in local clubs before eventually being captured on the band's 2011 debut album for hometown label Sub Pop.

Then, something unexpected happened. That music began to reach audiences all over the United States and the rest of the world, and The Head and the Heart went from playing open mic nights to selling out headlining shows in prestigious venues. The album became one of Sub Pop's best-selling debut releases in years. And slowly but surely, ideas began to form for the band's second album, imbued with the experiences of traveling the world and cultivating a listenership with a deep connection to the music.

"There is a certain level of confidence gained from having such an amazing fan base," says group member Jonathan Russell. "You start to trust yourself more. When we were busking, we were filling so much space to keep the listener from walking away. Now we are in a very different situation." Adds group member Josiah Johnson, "We wanted to write songs that felt bigger, and didn't need to be so frantic. I think for the most part we wanted to record an album that sounds like the way we play now."

Indeed, The Head and the Heart's new release, Let's Be Still, is a snapshot of a band that didn't exist just four short years ago. Virginia native Russell and California transplant Johnson formed the core songwriting partnership, which was rounded out by drummer Tyler Williams, keyboardist Kenny Hensley, vocalist/violinist Charity Rose Thielen and bassist Chris Zasche, who'd met Russell and Johnson while tending bar at an open mic they frequented. The nascent group dove headfirst into writing, recording and performing, and even moved into the same house to ensure that inspiration could strike at any moment.

"The first record was very thematic. It just had to do with all of us being together and writing songs, and leaving home to come to Seattle," says Thielen. "I honestly don't know if there is a theme this time around. There are things that stick out, like the idea of going from busking to becoming a full-on band and touring like crazy." Adds Williams, "Before we started recording, I wondered, 'What if this doesn't work? What if the momentum dies down?' But once we got in there, we realized that we felt so good together doing it. The weight was lifted. It was like, 'Right! This is what we do.'"
Let's Be Still was recorded at Seattle's Studio Litho with assistance from prior production collaborator Shawn Simmons. Later, the band traversed the country to mix the album in Bridgeport, Conn., with Peter Katis, revered for his work with bands such as the National, Interpol and the Swell Season. The 13 tracks here build naturally on both the sounds and themes of the debut, from the piano and violin-dappled opener "Homecoming Heroes" and the heartfelt "Josh McBride" to vibrant, bouncy future concert staples "Shake" and "My Friends."

"The first record was written and recorded with a lot of limitations. It's almost easier that way," says Zasche. "This time around, with more time and resources, there were few limitations, so we had to be in charge of keeping a focus and not getting distracted but at the same time exploring the options available. It wasn't easy, but from this I think a clearer, more focused record has been made."

Band members point to "Another Story" as a moment that embodies their collective creative spirit. Russell wrote the song shortly after the elementary school shooting in Sandy Hook, Conn., but hadn't showed it to anyone in the band except Johnson. "One day everyone was taking a break from tracking and I was sitting in my booth and started to play this song," Russell recalls. "You could hear what I was doing in the control room and then one by one, a bandmate would walk in, grab their instrument and start playing along. We didn't talk about it. We didn't have to go back and rearrange anything. It was all there." Adds Williams, "Jon is so smart about waiting to introduce new ideas. He knows when the mood will be right." Says Johnson, "The song was undeniable, and the vibe didn't change from when he was playing it acoustically. Everybody just lifted it up, in the way that this band does."
On the opposite end of the spectrum was "Gone," which dated back to sessions for the debut album but didn't make the cut the first time around. The band wrestled with the arrangement while performing it live for several years, and finally cracked the code after adding a laid-back bass-and-drum groove to the beginning. Described by Thielen as "striking" in its solo acoustic form, Johnson's "Fire / Fear" underwent similar revisions until the rest of the band settled on a new progression to link the verses together. "There is a lot more patience in the music," says Russell. "I think that has a lot to do with feeling more comfortable as a songwriter and a performer."
During the mixing process, Katis was tasked with polishing what Johnson describes as "a beautiful mess" of finished tracks. Says Williams, "We have a certain energy when we play shows that didn't translate to the first record. I was getting worried about that before we went to Peter's. Things seemed a bit muted and dry to me. But I didn't realize how much mixing could change a record. Peter actually went in and messed with tones, had some production suggestions and wound up really being the right guy to help us finish the record." "His mixes turned the songs around, and breathed vibrancy into them," says Thielen. "He added some auxiliary details that helped make things more full-bodied, but still within the realm of what we do. It was really refreshing."

With Let's Be Still ready for release, The Head and the Heart is eager to return to the road to further hone the musical bond its members formed in such whirlwind fashion. "When I think about the two records together, the first one feels like we all wanted to fulfill this dream we'd had about playing music, meeting people and traveling around," says Williams. "This one feels like the consequences of doing that -- what relationships did you ruin? What other things did you miss? You always think it will all be perfect once you just do 'this.' And that's not always the case."

Adds Russell, "Has there been an impact on our lives since we have become full-time musicians? Sure. No band wants to write that second record about how hard they have it. But it's hard to get around all of it. There are a few songs on this record that express the band's hardships for sure. On one hand, it's everything you have ever wanted. On the other hand, you start to miss the things you've lost and had to give up. And that's just life. My job is to write about it."
Kurt Vile & The Violaters
Kurt Vile & The Violaters
Kurt Vile (real name) has slowly, quietly become one of the great American guitarists and songwriters of our time. Kurt was born in 1980, one of ten children, and raised in the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia. As a teenager, his bluegrass-loving father gifted him with a banjo, when what Kurt craved was a guitar – so he played it as if it were.

Bewitched by lo-fi figureheads like Beck, Pavement, and Smog, along with a love for classics like Petty, Creedence, and Neil Young, he recorded his first songs and self-distributed them on CD-R between 2003 and 2007. These were compiled on 2008’s Constant Hitmaker and the 2009 mini-album God Is Saying This To You… The dreamy and psychedelic tangles of damaged but still-lyrical songcraft announced a major new artist wandering in from the hinterlands.

The Violators (then featuring Adam Granduciel, with whom Vile had co-founded The War On Drugs) debuted on the 2009 EP The Hunchback, coming into their own on Childish Prodigy, Vile’s third album and his first for Matador. More violent, more vivid, more ecstatically ‘rock’ than anything in Vile’s catalogue, the album was a righteous leap forward. The album that followed, the breakthrough Smoke Ring For My Halo, was more reflective, something sun-dappled and sexy in softly strung-out strums like “Peeping Tomboy,” the kindred flipside to barnstormers like “Freak Train” off the previous record.

His fifth album, Wakin On A Pretty Daze, is a 69-minute double LP and Kurt’s defining statement to date. Where previous albums alternated between gorgeous fingerpicking and heavy guitar workouts, this album blends the two in dreamy, expansive songs that gradually unfurl like a massive flag. It is a record that would have sounded great 30 years ago, sounds great today, and will still sound great 30 years from now.
Deer Tick (TWO Shows - Acoustic Sunset Show + Late Night Show)
Deer Tick (TWO Shows - Acoustic Sunset Show + Late Night Show)
John McCauley and Deer Tick have long walked a tightwire between total despair and fractured resilience, but Negativity represents a heroic leap forward on virtually all fronts for the Providence, Rhode Island-based band. Recorded earlier this year in Portland, Oregon with legendary producer/musician Steve Berlin (The Blasters, Los Lobos, and last year’ s McCauley side project, Diamond Rugs), the album –Deer Tick’ s fifth full-length studio release, and follow-up to 2011’ s acclaimed Divine Providence – is McCauley’ s most personal work thus far as well as the band’ s most undeniable and universal, their famously freewheeling musical approach refined here into a gloriously cohesive whole. Deer Tick – sounding as sure-footed as one would expect from a band who have spent a couple of hundred nights each year on stage for more than half a decade – more than match the strength of the songs by taking a more detailed approach than on some of the breakneck recordings of their past. From the sparkling baroque pop of “The Dream’ s In The Ditch” (penned by guitarist Ian O’ Neil) to the full-blown Memphis showstopper, “Trash,” Negativity sees the Tick bridging boozy punk, AM gold, bar band blues, country soul, and whatever else catches their fancy into their own profoundly American rock ‘ n’ roll. Additional sonic color comes courtesy of magnificently arranged brass accompaniment by Austin, Texas’ s GRAMMY®-winning Latin fusion collective, Grupo Fantasma. While Deer Tick have been rightfully hailed for their raucous rave-ups and substance-fueled fervor, Negativity places considerable focus on the band’ s nuanced and tender side, with notable highlights including the wrenching breakup ballad, “Hey Doll,” and the stunning “In Our Time.” Written from his father’ s perspective, the song is a timeless country tearjerker featuring McCauley’ s good friend, singer/songwriter Vanessa Carlton singing duet vocals in the “role” of his mom. “I guess I’ ll catch you on the other side,” McCauley sings in the album’ s final moment, a promise that, despite the pain and fatalism and yes, negativity, he’ s here for the long haul. Heartbreaking, fist-pumping, and ultimately life-affirming, Negativity stands as an indisputable high water mark for Deer Tick – a defining collection from a rock ‘ n’ roll band driven by an undying faith in the power of redemption and transcendence.
Lucius
Lucius
What a difference three years makes. Lucius went from being the five-piece Rolling Stone claimed was the “Best Band you’ve never heard of” to the group you can’t get enough of.

Fronted by the sleek and compelling look-alike twosome of Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig and backed by their counterpart bandmates Dan Molad, Pete Lalish and Andy Burri, Lucius spent more than 250 days on the road in the past year. They’ve sold out shows big and small, headlined all over the US and Europe, played slots at Bonnaroo, Newport Folk Festival, Lollapalooza, End of The Road, Reading and Leeds Festivals and more and shared the stage with a variety of musicians including Roger Waters, Jack White, Mavis Staples, Jeff Tweedy, Sara Bareilles, The Head and the Heart, Tegan and Sara and David Byrne.

The band’s uphill ascent began when Jess and Holly crossed paths while at college in Boston; more than 10 years ago, Lucius started making music and hasn’t stopped since. Along the way they’ve become NPR darlings, grist for Britain’s prestigious Guardian and favorites of the Nobel-prize winning New York Times columnist Paul Krugman. Since the critically acclaimed release of their 2013 debut LP Wildewoman they have built a stunningly loyal following, and share an intimate bond with their fans. It’s not uncommon to see Lucius doppelgängers in the crowd.

Sitting with Jess and Holly to discuss the band’s sonically-grand and emotionally-honest sophomore release Good Grief, the first thing that strikes you when you meet the frontwomen of Lucius is how fine-boned and delicate they both are. But even more striking is that they don’t actually look alike once you see them offstage. Their builds are markedly different: Jess is curvy, with a generous mouth and eyes that tilt up at the corners; Holly is willowy and angular, serious and with the pale complexion that conjures up the image of a Nordic princess.

But despite the six-inch disparity in their height on stage you could swear they were identical. Of course it helps that they always dress exactly alike, their hair is the same style and shade — right now a warm curry red — and they sing in a strong unison, doubling their high, clear voices and creating a third sound that is as unnerving as it is lovely, like two mirrors, creating an infinite number of reflections that reveal as much as they obscure.

“We wanted to feel like we were transforming ourselves and going into a different head space while performing,” Jess says. “In some way I think what we do is like a fantasy. We wanted to take people along with us for a ride. We wanted to present that visually so when you look at us you’re seeing what you’re hearing."

What you’re hearing (and seeing) when Lucius takes the stage are two voices becoming one. The band’s distinctive play on duality showcases Jess and Holly’s powerful voices at the center — bolstered and surrounded by the mathematically precise drumming of Dan with the graceful, chiming guitars of Pete and Andy. Together the quintet create a sound the New Yorker calls “seemingly impossible with flawless grace that brings delicate beauty to even the most bombastic moments.”

The recordings on Lucius’ second studio album Good Grief mirror the band’s distinguishing on-stage configuration. One shared figure 8 mic serves as an anchor for conversation between the band’s lead duo, which has resulted in the 11 raw and often heart wrenching songs you hear on the album. Among these is the explosive track “Gone Insane,” which gives a direct look into one of the few arguments between Jess and Holly.

“Some songs really feel like an expulsion of emotions, beyond your control,” Holly says. “The writing of ‘Gone Insane’ was based on the feeling after one of those loose cannon type of heated fights, with helplessness and rage hitting you in alternating waves.”

“But maybe the perfect description of this song comes in the recording process,” Jess adds. “Holly and I have seen maybe three arguments in the past 12 years. But perhaps the biggest of all, came the day we were to record this song. Emotions were running high, and at some point, Holly blew up at me. In shock, I yelled back and we both stormed off.

“This was a prime example of our partnership because a short while later she returned, we apologized, hugged and immediately went to record. It was just the two of us in the dark. There was no plan for vocal arrangement, we wanted to use the intensity of the moment and go for it. The ‘falling off’ part at the end of the song was completely organic, the two of us screaming into the same mic, losing it, together, in song form, as the lyrics suggest. “

“It was definitely one of those magic studio moments you can't quite explain,” Holly finishes.

A majority of the tracks on Good Grief fall in line with the overarching theme of discovering the goodness that can come from any hardship. The album proves to be a release for the band both physically and emotionally, after experiencing the highs and lows of being on the road for almost two years, the band moved to Los Angeles from Brooklyn where the album was recorded during the spring and early summer of 2015 at Grammy-winning engineer and producer Shawn Everett’s studio.

However, a few songs including the first single “Born Again Teen” became what Holly describes as something like “the antithesis of the other things that we were working on, to give ourselves some relief."

From the first swooping, synthy intro of “Something About You” to the alarm-clock menace of “What We Have (To Change),” there’s a sense that these expertly wrought pop songs are full of emotional depth.

They veer from sassy, soul-drenched vocals to glitzy rhythmic pop to songs that call up the charm and crushed innocence of '60s girl groups, but in the end there is no comparison to the dark secrets Jess and Holly convey when they put their two voices together.

“There are songs here that are deeply personal and emotional, and in a way we’ve exposed ourselves to reveal parts that are fragile, maybe even a little broken, but not destroyed,” Jess says. “There’s certainly a little bit of humor, and there’s also a lot of truth and sadness."

The lyrics of Good Grief read like personal journal entries because the friendship and writing partnership established between the band’s cofounders has given the women of Lucius an outlet to express their unusually parallel experiences.

“I always say Holly’s been the healthiest and longest relationship I’ve ever had,” Jess says.

That relationship has clearly blossomed musically into a many-faceted, enthralling sound and image sure to resonate deeply with music lovers everywhere.

March 2016 brings the release of Good Grief, the band’s highly anticipated sophomore effort.
Venue Information:
Hard Rock Hotel (Riviera Maya, Mexico)
Carretera Cancún-Chetumal KM 72
Riviera Maya, Quintana Roo, Mexico, CP. 77710