Remember liner notes? Before tangible media was sacrificed at the altar of the digital, I used to dig into CD booklets like I’d be tested on the material. (Which, depending on how you feel about nerdily bantering with friends, you could say I was.) One of my favorite aspects of liner notes was finding which other bands were mentioned; most often these name-drops occurred in the “Thank You” section and were little more than a list of former touring partners. But sometimes there’d be a shout-out to a band whose members had directly contributed to the album in question, maybe by playing some instruments that the primary band’s members didn’t or, in one of my favorite touches, by providing additional heft to a backing or gang vocal.
As a person who idolized the bands I loved, there was something humanizing about knowing that when they got stuck on something in the studio, my indie rock heroes took the same approach I would have: They called their friends to come hang out and try to fix it for them. It seems overly simplistic to say that I was enamored with the idea that bands I liked were friends with other bands I liked but I’m not alone in this. So when I saw that a few band members from Lux Courageous contributed to my beloved Between the Heart and the Synapse, well, I more or less rushed out to purchase an album by a band I’d never so much as heard of.
Reasons That Keep the Ground Near proved to be Lux Courageous’ only release and, as you might expect for a one-off indie release on a then-fledgling label, it didn’t exactly make waves when it came out in early 2005. Part of that lack of measurable success probably comes from the fact that Lux Courageous sounds almost nothing like any of their labelmates and certainly nothing like the exploratory prog-rock extravaganza that introduced me to them.
And yet Reasons is secretly a great listen. It’s a pop-rock record and if that seems an oddly marginalized market now, I assure you that it was worse in 2005. Save for Acceptance, whose excellence also failed to materialize into tangible success despite some radio play, there weren’t really any bands successfully executing that style in 2005. It was a sound well outside the zeitgeist and so it was easy to overlook Reasons as an album out of time. That’s a shame, because for those like myself who really enjoy pop-rock, there’s a lot to like here. (I once likened Lux to The Dangerous Summer, for those who are looking for a slightly more contemporary parallel.) “Concrete (Broadway)” bops with a killer chorus, “Everything You Wanted” has a great hook and “This Town” rocks so hard that it immediately stole my heart and serial rights to my stereo.
That Reasons and Lux got overlooked in 2005 is a bummer. But it’s no reason to continue looking past a memorable record today.