Archive for the Rilo Kiley Category

Hump Day Notes: New Josh Ritter, New Brandi Carlile, and More

Posted in Brandi Carlile, Dawn Landes, jenny lewis, Josh Ritter, Rilo Kiley on February 10, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

It’s time for some mid-week notes…

***This qualifies as old news by this point as the official release went out on Monday… but it’s still news that I’m excited about.

Josh Ritter has completed work on his new album, So Runs the World Away. The release date here in the U.S. is May 4th (my birthday is May 3rd if any readers want to pitch in and get me a copy). This is Josh’s first full release since 2007’s The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter, and he says he’s extremely proud of the songs on the new record. He’s never made a bad one to my ears, and I’m almost giddy with the thoughts of new music from one of my favorite artists.

You can view a brief video and download a free track from So Runs the World Away at Josh’s website. “Change of Time” sounds like a perfect introduction to the new album.

Josh Ritter: Change of Time (Sign up for Josh’s mailing list)

***I learned recently in this post from High Noon Saloon that Dawn Landes is Josh Ritter’s wife. I somehow failed to notice that when I first mentioned Dawn here a few weeks ago.

Warren’s review of Dawn’s new album, Sweetheart Rodeo, is much more in depth than the brief one I put up… so I suggest you just go read that one. His assessment of the album is pretty much spot on anyway. While you do that, you can listen to one of the more country inspired tracks on the album.

Dawn Landes: Sweetheart Rodeo (Buy Album)

***Rilo Kiley’s long time drummer Jason Boesel granted an interview to Paste Magazine last week in which he says new music is on the way from everyone’s favorite indie band fronted by child actors. Well… not completely new music really. Rather a compilation of rare and unreleased tracks from the band’s back catalogue. Of course, to me, any new Rilo Kiley is good Rilo Kiley. Look for this sometime later this year.

Boesel also says Rilo Kiley vocalist Jenny Lewis is working on another new solo album away from the band. She’s working again with her boyfriend Jonathan Rice who was heavily involved in 2008’s Acid Tongue. Maybe the new album will contain one of the new songs I saw Jenny perform last July.

***Finally… Tonight is the night Brandi Carlile makes her way to Knoxville for a show at the lovely Bijou Theatre. I wrote rather extensively about Brandi’s music and her new album Give Up the Ghost in this post a few months ago. I’m pretty excited for the show.

Brandi has also just released a new EP in time for Valentine’s Day. XOBC is an iTunes exclusive featuring three new original tracks along with covers of The Beatles’ “All You Need is Love,” and Bryan Adams’ “Heaven.” You can purchase it from iTunes here. It serves as a nice addendum to Ghost and well worth the minimal price for Brandi fans.

I’ll leave you today with another video from Brandi’s recent session at The Interface. This is “Dying Day” from Give Up the Ghost.

Friday Top 5: Top Five Most Listened to Songs on My I-Tunes

Posted in Andrew Bird, Josh Ritter, Rilo Kiley, The National, Tift Merritt, Top 5 on October 24, 2008 by AmericanaPulse

You’ve seen the commercials on TV where the straight-laced nerdy guy argues with the hip young guy about the merits of PC’s versus Macs? Well… for the record, I’m the straight-laced nerdy guy. I’m a PC. I’ve always had issues with Macs and Mac related programs.

I think that’s why I resisted I-tunes for so long. I had always used Windows Media Player to play any music I had on my PC, and it had always worked out fine. I didn’t feel the need to switch to anything else… no matter how much “easier” or “better” it was. I didn’t have that much music on my computer anyway.

About a year ago, something changed. I finally got my first I-pod and began the process of transferring my entire music library to my hard drive. Of course, the use of an I-pod necessitates the use of I-tunes. I was reluctant to use it at first, but now I can’t live without it. I have roughly 13,000 songs at my fingertips now anywhere I go. I can listen to them all randomly, make playlists, and do just about a billion other things with just one simple program. I’m converted.

One of my favorite features of I-tunes is the “play count” feature. It keeps track of everything you listen to on your I-pod and on I-tunes and counts how many times each song has been played all the way through. Since I first started adding songs to I-tunes roughly a year ago, I thought it would be fun to take a look at my play count numbers to see what I have listened to the most over this past year.

Here then, are the five songs that have been played the most over the past year on my I-tunes, my I-pod, and my wife’s I-pod. That means that most of these songs are ones that my wife and I both enjoy, and her extra listens have put them over the top. Most of these songs also appear on albums that got a lot of play around these parts in the last year. A few of these artists have more than one song in the Top 10. Anyway… here we go…

#1.) “Broken” by Tift Merritt
This one leads the count by a large margin. My wife and I both love Tift’s new album Another Country, and we saw her perform live three time in the last twelve months or so. This track was also nominated for Song of the Year at the Americana Music Awards, and I listened to it a lot when I was working on that post… and when I was working on my Tift Merritt profile post. There isn’t really a whole lot else I can say about this one that I didn’t say in those two previous posts. If you haven’t discovered Tift Merritt by now… I don’t know what else I can do.

Tift Merritt: Broken (Buy Album)

#2) “Squalor Victoria” by The National
This is another song that I’ve hosted here before from the band that really opened my eyes to the world of mp3 blogging (more on that next week). This is a track from the band’s 2007 album Boxer that highlights my favorite aspect of The National’s sound… the work of drummer Bryan Devendorf. Devendorf propels the song along with a complex beat that reminds me of a military march sped up to ten times its normal speed. Matt Berninger’s vocals are icing on the cake. Three songs from Boxer were in the Top 10… one of my favorite discoveries of the past year.

The National: Squalor Victoria (Buy Album)

#3) “Plasticities” by Andrew Bird
I can say without fear of hyperbole that Andrew Bird is my favorite whistling violinist working in the world of indie-pop today. His Armchair Apocrypha album is another that I seem to return to time and time again with each listen revealing a new layer of sound. The gentle pluckings of strings and lightly struck chimes in the verses give way to an anthemic chorus filled with brushed drums and fuzzy guitars. This is the one song that made the list almost solely through my listens. I put this on almost every playlist and mix CD I made over the past year. I wanted everyone I knew to hear this song.

Andrew Bird: Plasticities (Buy Album)

#4) “Kathleen” by Josh Ritter
All of the songs on this list were originally released in 2007 or 2008… except for this one. It comes from Josh Ritter’s 2003 release Hello Starling and contains what may be the greatest opening lyric ever commited to tape. When Josh sings “All the other girls here are stars/You are the Northern Lights,” he immediately sets the tone for the song and makes my wife upset that I’ve never said anything that poetic to her. I went on a huge Josh Ritter kick following the release of his 2007 album The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter (my favorite album of ’07), and I’m a little surprised that track got more listens than a few of the songs on Conquests.

Josh Ritter: Kathleen (Buy Album)

#5) “The Moneymaker” by Rilo Kiley
I mentioned this song briefly in last week’s Top 5 and provided a link to the video. This song is simply a boozy swagger through the world of adult entertainment. Blake Sennett’s guitar sets the mood for the song perfectly and provides the perfect playground for Jenny Lewis’ sex-soaked vocals.

Rilo Kiley: The Moneymaker (Buy Album)

So there you go… the five songs I’ve heard the most over the past year. On January first, I think I’ll reset the play counter and keep track of this all again next year.

Friday Top 5: Rilo Kiley

Posted in Rilo Kiley, Top 5 on October 17, 2008 by AmericanaPulse

I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned this band yet. I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned Jenny Lewis at all here actually. I need to catch up.

Rilo Kiley has been one of my favorite bands in recent years after my wife introduced me to their music following the release of 2004’s More Adventurous. I had been aware of them before that, but she became a fan first and then converted me.

Rilo Kiley was formed in L.A. in 1998 by former child actors Jenny Lewis (Troop Beverly Hills) and Blake Sennett (Salute Your Shorts). Over the course of the next decade Lewis and Sennett would prove that the move away from acting was a good one. The two would share “front man” duties for the band for much of their early work before the focus began to shift more toward Lewis.

For me, Jenny Lewis is Rilo Kiley. All five songs I list here today will feature her on lead vocals. I don’t dislike Blake Sennett… quite the opposite in fact. I just get so much more out of Lewis’ torchy lyrics and scorching vocals. Whatever IT is… she has it, and it sounds great. Even her two solo records (which I will have to revisit sometime soon) just have a certain sonic quality that I’m drawn back to again and again.

But let’s get to the music. Rilo Kiley have released four full length albums and one E.P. I’ll be drawing one song from each release for the Top 5 today.

Let’s start with the E.P. Initially issued in 1999 as a self titled release, the disc was re-worked and reissued in 2000, and again in 2001. For its third pressing, the disc carried the title Initial Friend. As you might expect, this album is not as cohesive as some of their later work. It does, however, give us an early glimpse into their sound and provide us with one of their catchiest songs to date.

(All versions of the Initial Friend E.P. seem to be out of print. The only copy I could find online was on craigslist, and the guy was asking $500 for it. The “buy album” link here goes to an search for Rilo Kiley.)

Rilo Kiley: The Frug (Buy Album)

Rilo Kiley’s debut full length album Takeoffs and Landings was issued in 2001. Here, the band experiments with a vast array of sounds including sparse acoustic numbers and synthesized instrumental reprises. In the end, though, the album holds together quite nicely and that sense of experimentation that does not obscure the hooks that fill each song. “Plane Crash in C” plods along for a bit, propelled by a sparse arrangement and Lewis’ vocals before hitting the bridge. There, Lewis is wrapped in a blanket of horns and the song really catches fire.

Rilo Kiley: Plane Crash in C (Buy Album)

2002 saw the release of The Execution of All Things. As you might expect from the title of the album, some of the songs on this release deal with some dark issues, including the divorce of Lewis’ parents. The lyrics, however, are counterpointed with the bouncy, hook laden sound that was by then becoming Rilo Kiley’s calling card. The title track illustrates this perfectly. As you listen to all of these songs, pay close attention to the guitar work of Blake Sennett. My wife argues that his playing is as important to the band’s sound as Jenny Lewis’ vocals. She’s right.

Rilo Kiley: The Execution of All Things (Buy Album)

More Adventurous came in 2004 and was the band’s big commercial breakthrough, it was also the album that got me hooked, and the reason I decided to force myself to choose one song from each of their releases for this post. Otherwise, there may well be five tracks from this album in my Top 5. It would be easy for me to go with “It’s a Hit” here. That was the lead single and the song that sucked me in. Instead… here’s one called “Portions for Foxes.” It gets the nod for the palpable sexual energy that oozes through the whole track… especially in Jenny Lewis’ shouted command to her paramour roughly 1:50 into the song.

Rilo Kiley: Portions for Foxes (Buy Album)

Rilo Kiley’s latest effort, 2007’s Under the Blacklight, takes the muse for its lyrics from the underbelly of Los Angeles. The songs take us to nite clubs, sex clubs, and behind the curtains of the adult film industry. The song I want to feature here, however, is one of the lighter tunes on the album. “Breakin’ Up” is a fun faux-disco dancer that makes me want to strap on a pair of skates and head down to the local roller-disco (if any still existed). It’s a bit of a departure for the band, and may be a bit too bubbly for some. I just find it extremely fun.

Rilo Kiley: Breakin’ Up (Buy Album)