Thursday, October 25, 2012

Hallelujah! There's New Lilys Music In The Air!

Lilys/Big Troubles split 7", 2012 Speakertree Records.

"Here. This sounds like something you might like."

These were the words spoken to me in English by my friend Mark's roommate, Leif, as he handed me a CD titled Eccsame the Photon Band with an album cover depicting blurred swirls of red, yellow and purple against a baby blue background. In the lower left-hand side was a small box featuring a blurry image of what appeared to be the band members, with the name of this crew superimposed over them with the "S" slowly creeping out: Lilys.

Lilys Eccsame the Photon Band
Leif was right. This CD was something I would indeed like. At the time (1994, or somewhere thereabouts), I was ear-deep into the cross-pollination discovery of both shoegaze and slowcore (My Bloody Valentine, Codeine, Bedhead, Slowdive, Low, Ride, The Telescopes, etc.) and Eccsame The Photon Band was like manna from Heaven. Multiple listens to this record were like breathing fresh air after being holed-up in a city too long, successfully ollieing up a curb for the first time, or your first real good lay after losing your virginity.

This record was a revelation; something I wanted, yet didn't know I was waiting for it. Eccsame opens all slow and measured, taking it's time weaving around your brain, while breaking occasional to let loose a barrage of distortion and electricity. The vocals were hushed and haunting, but not in the cheesy I just described five words ago in this very sentence. This record even featured these little melodies lasting only a couple of seconds every other song, stretching an nine song album out into 14. "Like" this band? Hell, I was in love.

So, you could imagine my consternation when I hoofed-it down to Tower Records to purchase another Lilys recording (the A Brief History Of Amazing Letdowns EP) only to get home and hear Dinosaur Jr-esque porch rock winding out of my stereo speakers (not a disappointment, mind you, but rather an eventually pleasant surprise). Then, to compound things further, a later purchase at Amoeba Records in Berkeley of both In the Presence Of Nothing (shoegaze-y) and Better Can't Make Your Life Better (British Invasion-ish) only added to my perplexity. Don't get me wrong; these were (and still very much are) great albums, but what the hell was going on here?

What the hell was going on here, it turned out, was the gliding force behind this hazy bouquet of a band:  one Mr. Kurt Heasley, a nomadic mad scientist roaming the east coast while making merry with the genre shifting of his band. Wrangling members of indie-rock luminaries (that would include members, over time, also attached to the likes of Velocity Girl, Beachwwod Sparks, Ape School, etc.), Heasley's musical output ran the spectrum of whatever sound seemingly mastered his attention. It also helped that his considerable songwriting talent and penchant for rendering near-flawless melodies and harmonies kept the entire affair far away from the territories of kitsch and novelty. Heasley was/is handy with the guitar, sings with a static lullaby coo and, at 8 feet tall, makes for one tall drink of showman where live appearances are concerned.

So, yeah, naturally, I had to collect every album, EP, single, and rarity track these Lilys ever put out. I once shelled-out $50 bucks for the band's "Tone Bender" 7" on eBay. I squealed like a little girl upon discovering the Which Studies The Past 7" EP in a bin a Tonevendor Records in Sacramento. I even begged (no, really: begged!) a fellow fan with a now-defunct Mediafire webpage dedicated to Lilys for a CD-R of his entire collection of non-album rarity tracks. 

To say I love this band is an understatement. Lilys are to me what your favorite (yet vastly inferior) band are to you. My Bloody Valentine, Love, Pavement, John Coltrane, Nina Simone, Big Star, Frank Sinatra, The Smiths, Guided By Voices, etc., etc., etc...: Lilys are at the top of the heap in my appreciation of music (your heap may differ. and bully for you!) 

So, you can imagine my unmitigated glee-gasam upon discovering that Lilys have released a new song after six years of hibernation. It's called "Well Traveled Is Protest," and in my completely biased opinion, this three-minute ditty is pretty fuckin' great. It features catchy melodies that dodge left when you think they're going right, acoustic strumming cresting over lo-fi chamber-pop orchestration, cryptic lyrics ("I Change For Change/I Don't Know Why"), Heasley's mischievously breathy vocal delivery, and so on and so forth. This song is the A-Side on a split 7" with Brooklyn-based Slumberland Records' artists Big Troubles. You can Tumblr more about this release here and pre-order it at the Speakertree Records blog-site here. And you can listen to this new song below:


Glad you're back, Wally!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Mixtape Making In The 21st Century

A couple of months ago, whilst answering a friend's dire call for suggestions for new music on the FaceBook, I wrote to tell her that I could have a mix CD sent out to her, toot'sweet. Her reply?

"A mix CD? How old school. Thanks."

Old school, indeed. I've been making audio compilations of music since I was a teenager, and handcrafting collage covers for my audio creations for just as long. I still fondly remember that Christmas day in 1986 when my sister surprised me with a Memorex dual-deck cassette player and recorder. Aw shitness! That was a red letter holiday for me. When home CD burning technology came along in the late 1990's, my mix-making went into overdrive. Oh, and the effects ones superior mix CD-making prowess has on the opposite sex. Color one, possibly two, women impressed, I tell you.

But this is a new century, and as my friend in Brooklyn (oh yeah, I know people in Brooklyn. Impressed?) so indelicately educated me, and physical compilation of recorded music are about as technologically savvy as a Nintendo Gameboy connected to a dot matrix printer. Enter the music sharing site Here, I can make and share my compilation creations without involving the blank compact disc-manufacturing, paper printing, stuff-sending-through-post-offices industrial complex. The charm of receiving a mixtape now beams from the cold, sterile screen of a computation device. 

The ritual of recording music tailor-made to the individual, now rendered via chips and blips and 1's and 0's. I'm Robocop with a iTunes playlist, now. Welcome to the new tradition.