Artist: Uncle Lucius
Album: The Light
Label: Boo Clap/Thirty Tigers
Release Date: 06/09/2015
The Austin music scene has been so vital in the past few decades, many artists and bands have developed a strong following there but remain as hidden gems to the rest of us. After a full decade in Guitar Town, Uncle Lucius is now breaking out, having signed to an independent record label that is already bringing them widely deserved recognition beyond Texas. They are a band with five songwriters, pulling in their collective efforts into lyrics that are existential, searching and mostly about finding inner strength. Guitarist, Mike Carpenter, describes their sound as “Southern rock for the thinking man,” and accordingly presents wide ranging influences, quoting philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti and mythologist Joseph Campbell, alongside Willie Nelson.
Musically, they also traverse a wide expanse, evoking The Band, hip-hop and only because of singer Kevin Galloway’s deep, resonant voice, the Crash Test Dummies. Galloway is a terrific songwriter too, best evidenced by “Taking in the View,” one of the best songs I’ve heard this year. It depicts a mellow retirement in Asheville, NC as the retiree picks through a stack of vinyl records to a ridiculously catchy hook, punctuated by the Mastersons’ Eleanor Whitmore’s strings, which builds to a wondrous crescendo.
Uncle Lucius turns to noted producer, George Reiff, (Ray Wylie Hubbard, Band of Heathens) to add some new elements. Horns embellish “Age of Reason” and synthesizers accent “Ouroboros,” but the focus is always on the songs themselves. Galloway describes their songwriting democracy as “a five-headed beast.” Unlike many bands, Uncle Lucius offers a fresh sound on each track. With this lack of sameness to the material, combined with their intriguing lyrics, The Light makes one of this year’s surprisingly strong albums.
– Jim Hynes