published Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Strong harmonies, pop hooks aplenty in this week's Nightfall headliner

Lucius is, from left, Peter Lalish (guitar/vocals), Holly Laessig (lead vocals/ keys), Dan Molad (drums/vocals), Jess Wolfe (lead vocals/synth) and Andrew Burri (guitar/drums/vocals).
Lucius is, from left, Peter Lalish (guitar/vocals), Holly Laessig (lead vocals/ keys), Dan Molad (drums/vocals), Jess Wolfe (lead vocals/synth) and Andrew Burri (guitar/drums/vocals).
Contribued photo by Peter Larson

"Songbird" is a word bandied about a lot to describe vocalists, but in the case of Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, it's too apt to avoid.

Like a pair of swallows flying in tight formation, Wolfe's and Laessig's vocals twine about each other in harmonies so knife-sharp and precise they're shocking even to their bandmates in the Brooklyn-based pop quintet Lucius.

"When they're singing, I'll try and figure out who's singing what part, and all of a sudden, they'll sing the same thing," says guitarist/vocalist Peter Lalish. "They just went into this [band] as, 'Hey, let's do this as one two-headed beast with one sound, one voice.'"

Despite their almost biologically identical vocals and playfully identical costumes and silver-dyed hair, Laessig and Wolfe are not related. They first met as vocal students at Berklee College of Music in Boston, where they participated in a number of projects together before meeting fellow Berklee alums Lalish and Danny Molad (drums/vocals).

Molad and Lalish had been collaborating for more than a decade when they met their future co-lead vocalists, who chose Molad's studio to produce a four-song EP. After hearing their preliminary recording for "Go Home," Lalish says, he became enthralled with their vocal chemistry.

And when Molad invited him to lend his talents to the project, he jumped at the opportunity, quickly discovering that the girls were as easy to work with as they were to listen to.

THE OPENER

Danimal Planet is a local "psychedelic beat-driven duo" consisting of frontman/writer Danimal Pinson with drummer/producer Adam Brown. To hear samples of their music, search for them on Spotify or visit www.danimalpinson.com.

IF YOU GO

What: Nightfall concert series featuring Lucius.

When: 8 p.m. Friday, July 18; Danimal Planet opens at 7 p.m.

Where: Miller Plaza, 850 Market St.

Admission: Free.

Phone: 423-265-0771.

Venue website: www.nightfallchattanooga.com.

Artist website: www.ilovelucius.com

"It was a pretty quick thing when we all started playing together and realizing the potential of collaborating with one another," Lalish recalls. "We all had these eye-opening moments of, 'Whoa, this is a really fast way to arrange a song.'

"It's a lot of ideas going on, but we manage to come to conclusions quickly, and I think we all realized the potential for how well we could work together. It was a pretty immediate thing."

After five years together -- the last two with the addition of multi-instrumentalist Andrew Burri -- Lucius has been on a decidedly vertical ascent recently. In 2013, the band's country/folk/pop-inspired, harmony-centric music attracted notice from prominent outlets such as NPR, Rolling Stone, Billboard Magazine and The New York Times.

Friday night, July 18, the band will make its Chattanooga debut as the headliner of this week's Nightfall concert.

The rush of accolades has been wonderful, Lalish says, but their attention lately has been thoroughly consumed by the rigors of what has essentially been two straight years of nonstop touring.

Not that he doesn't take a moment every once in a while to be properly in awe, he says.

"You try to reflect as much as you can and soak it in, like, 'I want to remember this moment. This is an amazing show,' but everyone is running their engines pretty hot, so there's not a lot of time to do that," he says. "It's always a surprise when I hear those things, and it's really cool."

Contact Casey Phillips at cphillips@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, young adults, technology and people of interest. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German. He previously worked as the features editor for Sidelines at Middle Tennessee State University. Casey received the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists Award of Excellence for Reviewing/Criticism in ...

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