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Lushy: self-titled

Jason Thompson



Label: Dinoysus
US Release Date: 2003-06-17
UK Release Date: Available as import

Somewhere between 12 and 1:30 PM I went down to the Sharp Edge Brewery and had a great lunch and slogged down a draft of Kasteel (at 11% ABV) and then a Corsendonk Pale Ale (at 9% ABV). I'm telling you this so you know where my mind is at as I write these words for this review. Floating would be one way to describe it. Out of the gourd might be another. Who knows? Anyhow I have returned from lunch and Lushy's self-titled disc is the next in line for my review. All I can say is, I wish I liked this band a lot more, I really do. But it's hard to do that when I figure all that they've done is inject some tropical and French clichés into each of these tracks.

All you have to do is scan the titles to see what you're in for. Let's see�we have "French 75", "Coconut Grove" (unfortunately not the great Lovin' Spoonful track), "Trip to Cannes", "Go-Go!", and "Pali Highway" to name but a few of the songs here. It already smacks of faux grooving, and once the disc starts to spin after you hit the play button this fact is made clearer when the music begins to play.

Lushy is comprised of an assortment of musicians. Leading the way is Anabella Kirby on vocals, clarinet, and percussion. She is the mouthpiece for Lushy. She is what you will hear on every track leading you down the primrose to path to some sandy, utopian reality. Then there's Brad Chodos on congas, bongos, and percussion; Jeff McGrath on the trumpet, lap steel, ukulele, and keyboards; Jurgen Scott on keyboards, flute, tenor, baritone, and drums; and finally M.G. Nims on bass, guitar, drums, and lap steel. That's a wide assortment of musicians and instruments to get stroked on this album.

But as I said, this stuff is far too obvious and "cool" to make any kind of lasting mark. That opening track, "French 75", is the best thing here, and the band's entire shtick is played out in this song. As a funky organ percolates against a suave bossa nova beat and guitars fall into place, Annabella recites a list of French things that I can't even begin to spell, so I won't embarrass myself by attempting to do so. It's just a list, kids. Icy hipster gook the likes of which Fellini made fun of in his 8 ½, the likes of which still are regarded as cool. If a song that lists such mundane topics as pomme frittes and crème freche seems groovy to you, dig right in.

But I promise you the thrill won't last long. Other tracks like "Coconut Grove" rely on such simple chatter as "Oooooh�Coconut Grove / Come to the Coconut Grove!", as the rest of the band falls back into its lounge lizard attire and waxes coolly. Then there's the likes of "Go-Go!", in which Annabella suddenly sounds like Debbie Harry circa 1979 and recites such piffle as "Go-go girls drive fast cars / Hang out in swingin' bars / Smoke cigarettes in high heeled boots" as the flute goes all crazy-like and the saxophone moans tiredly. I swear, ever since the resurrection of Esquivel in the '90s, too many fringe groups have wanted to go down similar lanes to strut their cool stuff. Too bad Lushy doesn't have any.

But that doesn't stop them from offering up tracks like "Hidden Harbor" that sound like a Swing Out Sister throwaway from 1985 (only not ever that cool), or "Pali Highway", which is once again nothing but a skeletal list or description of said place. It gets old fast, truth be told, and it's way too easy to write off Lushy as a novelty act, but that's all they propose themselves to be on this album. Let's face it, singing about cool locales does not make one cool automatically, nor does it make for entertaining fare over the course of an almost hour-long album.

So cheers to Lushy for landing an album at Dinoysus. I raise my bottle to thee in praise of all that is cheap and obvious. Listening to this disc yet again, I come away with the feeling that I've just gone through some tourist trap and arrived on the other side with nothing but a crummy t-shirt and a plastic cup that proclaimed I was there. Beware of this one, listeners. Sometimes playing it cool means sticking to your own grooves.

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