Friday, April 17, 2015

Listening To Luxury

I didn't start my college life with a lot of experience with music. My conservative upbringing kept me rather confined to contemporary drivel, and the farthest I'd stretched my secular reach was listening to my friends Nirvana and Green Day albums while keeping my own CD collection within the confines of DC Talk and MxPx. So when I moved into Lindenwood University with my new roommate Keith in the fall of 1996 I was ready to discover new things and reinvent myself. Keith, whom I knew only slightly via other friends, was a young man who had given the middle finger to the Youth Group Nation that had undoubtedly left us hungry for a taste of real life. He was an inspiring person to live with that first year of college and we discovered a lot of music together. He also introduced me to a lot of what I had already missed out on, including a little group from Georgia called, Luxury.

Luxury was noisy at first and the melancholy vocals were hard to understand. Even so, I never pushed it away. I could see my roommate had discovered something special in their sound and I wanted to as well. The album was called "Amazing & Thank You" and was the first one released by Tooth & Nail Records in 1995. It was my introduction to Luxury, and it was later that year when their second album was released that they finally broke through to me. The Latest And The Greatest was my first Luxury album and twenty years later, it's still one of my favorites.

I vividly remember how eager I was to share my new discovery with the gang from my church youth group. I can still recall putting the CD into the player and letting the catchy and melodic punk spew forth into my friend's living room. I was young and naive and waited for their moment of clarity that was the discovery of Luxury. It never came. My youth pastor commented on how poor the quality of the recording was, and just like that I knew I no longer belonged among these people. It sounds ridiculous, but it was a major turning point in my life. The place where I raised my anchor and set sail, leaving one life behind for a new one. Luxury had become a pivotal part of my life. The band hadn't changed who I was but rather had helped me find who I was. Toby, Mike and Kevin could certainly drop some funky beats, and Billie Joe Armstrong could successfully validate my teenage angst, but it was Luxury who helped me examine my own soul, and getting anyone else to experience that as well would be a hefty challenge.

I recount all of this to you because Luxury's new album, Trophies arrives this June and all of that old excitement has flooded back to me. Thanks to being involved in a Kickstarter project I was privileged enough to get my hands on the entirety of the unreleased album and once again I find myself with an amazing discovery that I have almost no ability to share. Not because people can't listen, but because they won't. It's not the typical hipster tale of liking something no one else does, I experience that on a regular basis by admitting I enjoy The Decemberists. No, this is something that's always defined what Luxury is to me. It's mine. My own. I want to share it, but it isn't really meant to be shared because it speaks a little different to everyone who's immersed in it. It must be discovered. These guys know what it's like to live the hardships of life and they're not afraid to baptize you in the truth of it all. They don't subscribe to the happy-go-lucky Christian ideals that have polluted our churches for so long, but instead examine the heart of human intent and our need for salvation. At least, that's what they do for me. Maybe for you it'll be something else. You'll have to listen to find out.

Check out NPR's interview with Lee and Jamey Bozeman. Two brothers who are kind of the heart of the band. They also have a great Bandcamp page where you can hear all of their music including a preview from their upcoming album. Thanks for reading.

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