Cincinnati Electronic Rock four-piece Eat Sugar released its fantastic debut full-length Levántense! this past summer as a digital-only offering. But early next year, the well-received album — which scored a Cincinnati Entertainment Award nomination for 2010’s “Album of the Year” — will be reintroduced to the masses thanks to Eat Sugar’s label home, the wildly eclectic and widely respected Mush Records. The release is set for a Feb. 22 launch by Mush.
For a number of reasons, Mush is a ridiculously perfect fit for Eat Sugar. The Los Angeles-based label’s esoteric output shows a dedication to creative, unique sounds over cash-cow potential. The label management is known for not meddling in the artistic process and allowing Mush recording artists to freely create and follow their own vision. The label has a snowflake roster — no two artists sound alike — yet the founders’ taste for music that is unclassifiable and fearlessly exploratory has set up such an impressive streak of artistic homeruns, the imprint’s dedicated customer base eagerly snatches up releases with the “Mush” name on it based on an earned trust. While a magnetic, subversive Pop charm is certainly a part of the band’s arsenal, Eat Sugar’s strongest “hook” — the thing that makes Levántense! such a rich, satisfying listening experience — is its imaginative eclecticism.
Though impossible to pinpoint a representative style in the label’s output, Mush artists all share an avant-garde spirit and many have an element of Electronic music, though the dizzying assortment of mad-scientist methodologies Mush acts employ severs any direct connective threads. Somehow, that array of approaches (from slanted Hip Hop to pulsating Indietronica) congeals to form Mush’s strangely identifiable “sound,” an alluring tangle of wires, words, tones and moods. And somehow, Eat Sugar’s guitarless, synth-driven spin on Art Rock, Electro, New Wave and Post Punk fits perfectly into a stable of artists where little fits perfectly.
Mush and Eat Sugar’s promising partnership is built on entangled roots — both were born in Cincinnati. Robert Curcio and Cindy Roche (also known as early Mush recording artist Lulu Mushi) founded the label in the late ’90s as a much-needed outlet for the unique electronic-based projects being recorded at Curcio’s Dirty Loop Music studio in Cincinnati. One of those artists, DJ/producer/musician Boom Bip (Bryan Hollon), was a cornerstone Mush act from the start, responsible for the label’s first ever release and then first album, Circle, a collaboration with Cincinnati pal Doseone, the devastatingly talented, word-juggling MC who helped launch leftfield Hip Hop (and beyond) label anticon with a whole other set of Cincinnati guys.
Curcio and Roche, like eventually all of those in that abnormally talented and inventive group of college students and Cincy natives, left the Queen City, moving Mush headquarters around the country a few times (New York, Chicago, San Francisco) before settling down in Los Angeles.
As of now, Mush’s latest hometown connection is still in its hometown. And Eat Sugar is in perfect position to gain a much larger audience. Levántense! is one of those albums that, if it gets into the right ears (and enough of them), it could catch on big. Having a stirring, potent live show certainly doesn’t hurt things either.