Sunday, September 9, 2007


I like to write about music in here. I especially like writing about music that I think is good! I first heard the group Rilo Kiley a couple of years ago, but I just recently began to fully appreciate them, especially lead singer and former-child star Jenny Lewis (she was in two of my favorite movies from when I was a kid -- The Wizard and Troop Beverly Hills). The band was formed in 1998 by Lewis and friends Pierre De Reeder, Blake Sennett and Dave Rock (the latter was later replaced by Jason Boesel). Their first full-length album was Take-Offs and Landings, released in 2001 under an independent label. That album was followed a year later by The Execution of All Things. In 2004 they released More Adventurous, which was distributed by Warner Bros. It was following this album that the band began to see more recognition. Asides from the album receiving favorable reviews, the band toured with both Bright Eyes and Coldplay and had songs played in a number of movies as well as several popular television series including Dawson's Creek, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Grey's Anatomy and Weeds.

So what's so great about them? Well, the music of course! They bring a sound and a quality of music that is both interestingly unique but also accessible. One reviewer describes their third album this way: "Part new-wave keyboards, part folky acoustic guitars, the music on More Adventurous is unexpectedly beautiful." Another states, "Basic but gorgeously textured pop-rock with a country tinge, Rilo Kiley's music is led by vocals that'll stop you in your tracks." Their newest album, Under the Blacklight was released only weeks ago and is earning the same amount of praise. The Onion, gives it an A, saying, "The L.A. quartet has returned with an album that's teeming with creatively executed ideas, to the point where it almost feels like the band was just using its first three albums to warm up." Blender: "Creamy and precise, every coo and arpeggio blows through your ear buds like the ruffle of crisp bills" and Spin: "Lewis' wordplay smartly unspools over the course of a song--with 'Breakin' Up,' she creates a 'Since U Been Gone' for grown-ups, and on '15,' narrates an Internet jailbait vignette without melodrama or moralizing." When you listen and watch them, you can't help but feel that you're experiencing something new.

As I said, Jenny Lewis is in my opinion the best thing about Rilo Kiley. Rather than fading like most child stars, she has completely redefined herself. A far cry from her acting days, 31-year-old Lewis is making her mark on the music scene. In early 2006 she released a solo album Rabbit Fur Coat, which was highly acclaimed and mixed music styles such as country, folk and gospel. She credits influences such as Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn and Laura Nyro and reviewers have compared her to Emmylou Harris, Dusty Springfield and others. One review puts it best, "Jenny's hauntingly soulful voice, sometimes bursting with buoyant spirit and at other times plaintive and world wearied, is deep, sensual and beguiling. Intricate storytelling and evocative lyrics infuse these songs with a captivating vibrancy but may be knocked sideways by the musical alchemy at play as a result of folk, country, and Southern gospel influences."

Here is the quirky video for her song "Rise Up With Fists!!!" followed by a stellar live performance of the song "You Are What You Love."

Whether Jenny Lewis and Rilo Kiley continue on in the mainstream music world, one thing is for sure: this is a musician with pure talent. Go! Listen!

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