WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
TONY GOES LOOKING FOR LUSCIOUS JACKSON AND THE LEMONHEADS
About ten years too late, I finally realized what a great band Luscious Jackson were. A little pop, a little hip-hop, a little rock, a little dance, a little alternative, but not quite any of the above, they were the first act signed to the Beastie Boys' Grand Royal label, and made three great albums and a killer EP between 1992-99. They only had two sizeable hit singles -- "Naked Eye" and "Ladyfingers" -- and they always seemed to be just under the radar of mass acceptance. But that doesn't explain their near-total disappearance since their breakup in 2000. I mean, I can Google-stalk old friends from college who've never done a noteworthy thing in their lives and find more info about them than I can about what the four Luscious Jackson gals have been doing for the last half-decade or so.
With the help of Lexis-Nexis and an intrepid investigative journalist friend, I managed to track down some minimal info on three out of four. Vocalist/frontwoman Jill Cunniff was recently signed as a solo artist to a small indie label, but no word on when or if she'll be putting anything out. Drummer (and original Beastie Boy) Kate Schellenbach played drums on Indigo Girl Amy Ray's solo album in 2005. And bassist/vocalist/rapper Gabrielle Glaser has an as-yet-unsigned band, Gabby, who sound like a punkier version of L.J., as well as her own myspace.com page. No evidence that they're playing anywhere anytime soon, alas. The only completely MIA member is keyboardist Vivian Trimble, who left the band in 1998 to pursue her own project, Dusty Trails, which she founded with former Breeder Josephine Wiggs. They put out a gorgeous, loungey album in 2000, had a few more tracks on the soundtrack to Happy Accidents the following year, and apparently played a stray NYC gig in '02. Since then, absolutely nothing.
Come home, Luscious Jackson! All is forgiven! Email us at HEYNYCD@aol.com if you have any info on the ladies of Luscious, and let's start working on a reunion show. If we build it, they will come... or something....
Another '90s semi-star who disappeared completely was Evan Dando, former leader of The Lemonheads, who made one of the great power-pop albums of the decade, It's A Shame About Ray, and then proceeded to burn out in a storm of tabloid headlines, hipster backlash, and massive drug use. After the mediocre 1996 album Car Button Cloth, Dando proceeded to fall off the face of the earth, save for the occasional shambling solo show.
In 2003, Dando resurfaced with a forgettably pleasant solo album and the first full-on Lemonheads tour in close to a decade. The show I saw was so thrilling and passionate, not just because Dando went back to his classic material and performed it with such conviction, but because in doing so he vindicated all of us who were there, singing every word along with him -- all of us who'd put our bets on him ten years earlier to be the next pop genius, only to see him transform from alterna-rock boy wonder to drug-addled nincompoop almost overnight. Maybe we weren't wrong after all.
It's been three years since that show, but Dando is finally all the way back with a new, self-titled Lemonheads album that's heavier on the guitars than anything since their early punky days, and their most consistent work since It's A Shame About Ray. It may lack the one or two tunes that make you think "This is the greatest song ever written" as you play it 50 times in a row, a hallmark of past Lemonheads albums, but on the whole, it's one of the best records I've heard all year. What a surprise. (The Lemonheads will be released on Sept. 26.)