Monday, July 29, 2002

Natural Ingredients - Luscious Jackson
Your feelings on the Beastie Boys are probably as good an indication as any of what you'll think about Luscious Jackson. There aren't many obvious references on this album straight back to the Beastie Boys, but it's in the same vein- all voices the first time you listen, heavily hip-hop influenced, bouncy music. Going forward to Hello Nasty and "I Don't Know" -not a typical Beastie Boys song- is the best reference I can come up with here. That track is slower than most songs on Natural Ingredients, but it has the same kind of easy groove.
I love the Beastie Boys- even in high school, I thought Sabotage was a great song, and happily bounced along to it. A friend noticed this & started playing Natural Ingredients for me, and I was hooked. To a 16 year old grunge fan, this was a new door opening. The baby feminist in me loved the songs that make me cringe now, but I still get a kick out of listening to most of this album. Deep Shag, all hook and quiet flow still grabs me like the first time I listened to it, and I'll never tire of the energy bound up in Here.
I thought it would pale in comparison to some of the richer sounding music I've been listening to recently, and it does feel thin compared to Since I Left You, but then it's strong enough to hold up to what it is. Perhaps the biggest thing I've gotten out of this album this time around is musing that I really don't listen to as many women as I used to. I went to a L.J. concert at my college, and it was an incredible experience- I had a great time at it, despite the fact that they played more of their Fever In Fever Out songs, which I don't like as much. What made the concert so special was that the audience was more than 98% women and it felt very different even from the Sleater Kinney concert I went to at the Middle East. The women onstage were laid back and clearly having a great time, and it inflected all my listening to their songs after that night.
What prompts the kind of music purchases that we make? When I was in college, I would guess that upwards of 75% of the CDs I was buying were women artists or groups with women singers. In the 3 years since I graduated, that number has dwindled ever lower without my noticing until I bought this cd and noticed that it was the first album with female singing on it that I'd bought in a very long time. Excluding Belle & Sebastian (some songs would fit here, but not the majority), the last one I bought was a Cocteau Twins album- Victorialand- in Febuary. I'm quick to ascribe this to the fact that my college buying habits were colored by listening to WZLY and going to on-campus concerts, but that's not true. I'm exposed to more CDs coming out each month now than I was at any point any point in school, and I certainly buy more- having a grownup job helps on that front. At some point in the last few years, I just moved away from choosing women's voices in my walkman. Natural Ingredients may well pull me back again to being a little more balanced, just as it pulled me out of my mostly grunge listening habits in high school. It fits in nicely with the summery evening music I've been listening to on my walks, so I think it will stay out with my heavy listening CDs for at least a few months.

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