CS Luxem – Symptoms

CS Luxem is a solo folk artist from Lawrence, Kansas, and he just released a new album Symptoms. I’ve been excited for this album since Luxem did a Classroom Series with KSDB in 2015, and it definitely did not dissapoint.  The album was upbeat and fun. There was a great mix between some old favorites and new gems, and I know I’ll be listening to this constantly.

There is one thing overall I’d like to mention about the sound, though. Since Luxem is a solo artist, he loops his music in order to layer the vocals and instrumental. When listening to him live, there’s an echo that I really think adds to the sound, and there’s less of that in the album. That’s really just a nitpick, though, and just gives me an excuse to keep going to Luxem’s live performances.

The first song on the album is “Goat Ghosts”. I love how the drums and cymballs come in to simulate the sounds of floorboards and thunder in the song. That makes it sound like the song is really dark and spooky, but it’s not. The same idea is followed up with “Let Me Go On”. Luxem keeps repeating “let me go on”, while the beat is dancing you through the song.

“Space” is a perfect example of what I was describing earlier. It’s not polished, Luxem’s voice isn’t trying to be perfect, and it sounds amazing. It’s about the feeling behind the song, which is shown at the end when Luxem is yelling “I don’t know what you want from me / I just wanna give everything” and the instrumentals in the background just go crazy. The sound shifts at the end to transition to “Heal Support”. These songs go together really well, because this is another song that’s about having fun. At the end there’s not even lyrics, just “ahs” and “bah bahs”, which are impossible to not headbang to.

The next song, “Hot Corn Girl”, slows it down a little bit. It makes me think of driving to the city at night while it’s snowing lightly, for whatever reason. It’s one I haven’t heard before, but I’d love to see Luxem do more songs like this.  “Redundancy” slows it down even more. It’s not my favorite from the album, but it’s ok.

The tone is completely shifted again with “Own Way”. The drums are a lot of fun, and there’s some kind of vocal distortion and whistling at the end that is different from how I’ve usually heard it, and it sounds neat.

“Tornado” is another new song from Luxem. It’s upbeat, but somehow also restrained, like the calm before a storm. It’s very beautiful, and one of my new favorites.

After the transition song “Where Are You Going?” is the title song, “Symptoms”. The instrumentals are kind of jazzy, and there’s three or four part harmonies from different vocalists, which sounds amazing.

The album ends with my personal favorite, “Feed the Dogs”. It’s just the most fun to me, and the drum solo just seems to kind of put you into a trance. It’s a great way to end the album.

It’s really hard for me to be super critical of this album, because it will always be tied to working at this radio station. But if you’re looking for an album that is fun and happy, give this one a try.

By: Monica Brich

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