Spotlight on Loraxx
The seeds for Chicago's Loraxx were planted in 1996 when vocalist/guitarist Arista Strungys and bassist Santosh Isaac decided that they didn't much care for the drummer that they were working with. Replacement Elliot Talarico turned out to be a marked improvement, although the band split in '97 and was off the map for a year-a rather unremarkable genesis for a group that has, since their reformation in 1998, racked up serious praise from the local press, continued to work day jobs, and record two solid LPs. Simply put, Loraxx takes a laid-back approach to creating music that is anything but.
"You would probably never get another good song out of us if we were forced to do this for a living," according to Strungys. "A good number of bands have made careers of putting out records on their own (terms)."
Great songs-three minute exercises of controlled noise anchored by Strungys's arresting vocals-are Loraxx's specialty, as evidenced on their debut Canada and the recently released follow-up, Yellville. Both albums were recorded at Electrical Audio by Steve Albini, whose own band, Shellac, is cited by Loraxx as a musical/operational (like Loraxx, Shellac play and record only when they feel like it) influence. According to Strungys, it wasn't Albini's status that made the band nervous the first time around-it was simply being in the studio. "The most daunting thing was that we were making a record."
After Canada's enthusiastic reception, the band decided not to tamper with a sure thing. "It's that drum sound," Strungys says of Electrical, "you get it once, you have to go back."
As for their status as critical darlings (the band was hand-picked to play Jim DeRagotis' Let it Blurt book release), Strungys would rather be pragmatic than let it go to her head. "(The critics) have established themselves as pretty reliable sources for information," she says. "It's good to have these people on your side, and we are incredibly appreciative." In addition to the wealth of available "information" put out by the rock press, the band maintains a Website (www.loraxx.com) that is, according to Strungys, "very information-oriented."
In a world of over-hyped bands that burn out too soon, the most striking thing about Loraxx is their success in subtle self-promotion. Strungys throws out terms like "cluster tours" and "tracking mechanisms," tentatively. You can almost sense her amusement at all the fuss. After all, being in a band should be fun, and Loraxx's fierce live sets and buzz-bomb recordings are just that.
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