Klassics with a "K"

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Rare is the case where a side band becomes more compelling than its members' main gig, but the chill attitude and honest style of the Kostars puts Klassics with a "K" in that category. Vivian Trimble and Jill Cunniff of Luscious Jackson formed the Kostars after a few off-the-cuff acoustic jam sessions between the two on a Luscious tour. Klassics was released the following year, with three songs by each Kostar and four they wrote together. The other two members of Luscious Jackson show up to play (as do Gene and Dean Ween), but the Kostars definitely have their own sound, more organic and less busy. Jack Torso's liner notes explain that the seed of the Kostars was planted on a "sultry evening in Baton Rouge" when Trimble and Cunniff "made a beeline for the woods behind the club with acoustic guitars in hand." This summer night scene sets the mood of the album well; one can almost feel the crickets and the heat steaming off the Bayou in the slinky beat of "Jacqueline" or the campfire waltz of "Never So Lonely." Equally as evocative is the rainy day nostalgia of "Red Umbrella": Trimble and pal Niko Tavernise harmonize over a sweet progression "Through the window, I hear/the rain, it reminds me of you/the sounds of the drops/caress me as sweetly as you." The groovy, uptempo "Hey Cowboy" is the closest Klassics comes to a "rocker," as the record has a consistently relaxed feel throughout. By simply making fun music that appeals to their mellow sensibilities, Trimble and Cunniff created a pocket masterwork. Klassics is a classic itself, in the way it bottles up a universal set of reflective moods for easy but not schmaltzy listening.

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