Side Project: The term tends to bring to mind disgruntled band members storming off to the studio, laying down tracks that have been rejected by the rest of the band. Songs which hold too personal a place to be left unattended and fleshed out. Perhaps I’m being cynical. But I do feel that the imprisoned energy that accompanies the weight created by carrying around unrealized projects, can be overwhelming and needs to find a working outlet to plug into. Or maybe sometimes people just need a healthy respite from each other.
Regardless of the reason, when moments like these arise they can prove to be either cathartically creative or boringly self indulgent. Jill Cunniff and Vivian Trimble of the direly under appreciated all female 90’s band Luscious Jackson, whose sound was a seamless string of hip-hop, rap, lo fi, and laid back rock, decided to throw some tunes they had written while on the road into the side project realm. “Experiencing a different lifestyle while passing through the sleepy towns” was their claimed inspiration, and the sound of the album is indicative of a slow stroll through a small bedroom town on a Summer’s night. Catching the comforting strum and hum through the air of acoustic guitars being played on some not too distant front porch. Replete with soulful smooth harmonies, which have a lovely lullaby quality. Except with a better beat.
For the tracks on “Klassics with a K”, released on the Beastie Boys Grand Royal label, still hold that memorable steady rhythm, which gave LJ their groove. No surprise since fellow Luscious band mates Gabby Glasser and Kate Schnellenbach appear as guests on a few tracks, providing the signature bounce that graced LJ releases. Dean and Gene Ween also check in on the standout duet “Don’t Know Why”. Cunniff and Gene’s voices trading verses in dreamy harmony, it’s a shame they only sang one sweet song together on the album.
“French Kiss” with Cunniff’s fitting faux French vocals, ends the album in a jazzy crescendo. Ultimately falling into the cathartically creative category, Klassics with a K also sits among the list of those rare albums you pop on and can enjoy throughout, without skipping a track. It’s a treat to know that a side project could find a home in your permanent personal play list, when so few releases attain such a spot. It most definitely achieved a place in mine.