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Review: Lucky Boys Confusion – Throwing The Game (Wea/Electra)

Creatively speaking, rock and roll is in a box: guitar, bass, drums, and vocals. A box. Sure, artists have introduced foreign elements: samples, loops, turntables, theremins, various techno effects. But it’s still a box limited by the traditional tools of the trade. Is this a bad thing? To some it’s the worst thing, like tape over your mouth, like handcuffs. To others, like Lucky Boys Confusion, it’s a challenge. What can you do in this box that hasn’t been done before? Not much, according to those artists who can’t help but step outside of the box (and hooray for them, they’re important too), but to bands still looking for true, undiscovered corners of rock and roll, the form is infinite, liberating.

Mining the rich soil of punk, pop and reggae, Lucky Boys Confusion have risen from the greater Chicago music scene to the edge of national notoriety on the strength of their ability to write music that unites their various musical tastes, while at the same time sidestepping the cross-training gimmick indigenous to the rapcore nation. Comprised of vocalist Kautsubh “Stubhy” Pandav, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Adam Krier, guitarist Joe Sell, bass player Jason Schultejann and drummer Ryan Fergus, the Boys first met at a local ‘Battle of the Bands’ contest. Listening to one another’s music, it became quite clear that these musicians were on the same page, which for most groups is half the battle. Almost instantly the Lucky Boys Confusion were out on the local suburban circuit playing gigs to unsuspecting music fans and finding their own common creative ground. Initially they earned support through their live performances, an invigorating combination of kinetic energy and youthful expression, but in diving into the recording process with their first EP in 1997, What Gets Me High, the band became aware of the craft of creating music: “Our live playing has always been a huge factor in the appeal of the band. But we also had all these great, diverse influences driving us too.”

Inspired by these influences, the Lucky Boys followed the D.I.Y. method to success with constant touring, self-promotion and recording to expand their fan base to include not only Chicago’s vibrant music culture, but also the surrounding cities’ of Milwaukee, Iowa City and Champaign, Illinois. The momentum they created fueled another record, 1998’s Growing Out of It, which sold close to 6,000 copies, and another EP, The Soapbox Spectacle, which yielded the band’s most significant single, “Dumb Pop Song.” Though it could be said that it was “Dumb Pop Song” that broke Lucky Boys Confusion – it’s been included on their major label release – as it found a place on local radio rotation, but the band would argue that this one song would never have existed without previous efforts no matter how successful or unsuccessful. Hard work, desire and the artistic maturity to be more than just a spec on the rock and roll map is what has propelled Lucky Boys Confusion to where they are today, one of Elektra Records’ most promising new bands.

Sticking close to their artistic guns, the group embraced major label support and the pressure of producing a record worthy of distribution, while also retaining their grassroots grit and stubborn self-awareness: “When we went to L.A. to work on the album we realized we were looking forward to this next phase of working with a big label, but at the same time we wanted to remember what was back there.” With the release of Throwing The Game, an album Adam Krier likens to the Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique in its seamless production and wide musical appeal, Lucky Boys Confusion prove they are a band beyond their years, beyond the suburbs of Chicago, a band within and beyond the box.

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