Rilo Kiley is a band I’ve always known of. They’re a band with a name I like saying out loud. Rilo is a pleasing word to form. Of course, we’re here because I refuse to listen to most things.
The things I know about Jenny Lewis are as follows:
- Postal Service
- One time she did an Austin City Limits performance my dad likes in which she says something about “slick LA studio musicians” in the interview thing they do when they televise those programs but I don’t remember her point
I was told I should start with The Execution of All Things even though I like the art of Take Offs and Landings way more. I love the blue and the cream and the diagram… it’s art I like so much I don’t think I should ever listen to it just to keep it pure. Maybe I’ll buy it on vinyl and never listen. I believed my friend who said to start at Execution so that’s where I started.
For the record, though, I hate this album cover.
Let’s talk songs.
The album starts perfectly. The first three tracks are.. perfect. No two ways about it. The Good That Won’t Come Out is sparse and cool. There are moments of clarity when the effect on Lewis’s vocals drops and in those moments I can feel the pent up emotion that makes this album feel special. It really sounds like Saddle Creek but that’s okay. Paint’s Peeling is a really good indie rock song that doesn’t feel dated the way some of this record does. It builds nicely and I prefer when Jenny Lewis is angry and loud instead of the whisper warbling on some of this album.
The title track, however, is one of those songs that made me smile the second her voice came in. I love this song. Some songs grow on you, some songs change you immediately. I love this song in that immediate, lasting way I loved Fireworks by Mitski or Morbid Stuff by PUP. It’s a pure moment of understanding why this thing, this band, this album is beloved.
Chasing that feeling of remembering why I love music and why my friends love the things they do is the reason I write this newsletter.
That all said, I don’t love all of this record. I think a lot of it feels dated the way early 2000s indie rock stuff can.
So Long is a reminder that Rilo Kiley wouldn’t be anything without Jenny Lewis. I read a bit where Jenny Lewis demanded she sing leads or she wouldn’t be in the band. She was right to do that. This song isn’t bad but it is boring. This song is what Fleet Foxes sounds like in my head.
I also made a note calling So Long “this carny song” ? Which I think is not in reference to So Long as much as it’s in reference to the broken up thru line song that goes through the album about Jenny Lewis’s childhood and parents’ divorce.
Capturing Moods is the worst offender. It’s that sickly sweet 2002 indie that doesn’t work for me. It sounds dated and cutesy and weird. The 2009 Zooey Deschanel of indie music.
A Better Son/Daughter I heard and was like, “oh i know this song” as I, too, watched Nanette in 2018 and then watched it later to see if I thought it was as good as everybody thought it was two years ago. I think it is. Anyway, this song is marching band indie but in a good way. I like it a lot. It feels like looking at photos of my friends I took on film with flash at parties or bars or while getting drunk on a rooftop to avoid paying for drinks at the venue.
I miss my friends.
What am I talking about?
Hail to Whatever You Found doesn’t do much for me. My Slumbering Heart is a song I like but definitely feels.. dated. Some songs can live for years without thinking “this sounds like it was released 20 years ago” and some can’t. Doesn’t make them bad songs necessarily. Just a moment.
With Arms Outstretched is another favorite on the album. I love a good prolonged gang vocal. There’s even some claps! Very good very cool I love it.
Overall, I like this album I think. I think it’ll grow on me, too, if I keep listening to it. I expect I will. I get why people love Rilo Kiley. I get why people love Jenny Lewis. This sort of ultra talented person who makes the things they do and their collaborations with others special.
Just the way Jenny Lewis is described on wikipedia speaks to a quality of being hard to define with just one project. We do not talk about Jenny Lewis in the same breath as Rilo Kiley the way we talk about someone like Conor Oberst with Bright Eyes. It feels like a very LA musician thing. I think, and hope, Phoebe Bridgers will be loved in this certain way. It’s very special to see that collaboration and diversification of influence strung together through one person.
Corey Flood is a band from Philadelphia who I just came across on Twitter I think. Being the very superficial person I am, the thing that got me first was the art. I love the dark green. I love the font. It doesn’t follow album art trends of the moment. After listening, it sounds just like the cover looks. Stunning on all accounts. I love the sound of the band name and the album name.
Corey Flood. Hanging Garden. The names just sound nice. I immediately wanted to like it. I do.
This album is 20 minutes but doesn’t feel incomplete or underdeveloped. It’s more hazy and pretty; full of stunning vocal melodies and bass lines and meandering effected guitars.
It’s not representative of most music I really love in that it’s subdued and subtle and melds into itself in ways my similar obsessive listens are not but I think I listen to music, often, in a very utilitarian way.
I spend a lot of time sitting in my apartment because I’m in law school and have to read a lot but, even when I’m focusing on that, I can’t be in silence. Every ambient sound of my apartment building or my body or my boyfriend listening to a podcast is so distracting and consuming I cannot focus. I need music to fill that space but I can’t handle constant drastic changing of songs. Usually I listen to songs on repeat because the constant, predictable, comforting sound isn’t distracting. It’s rare an album can fill that space but this one does.
I realize that “it doesn’t distract me while working” doesn’t sound like a tip top selling point for an album but I struggle a lot with auditory sensitivity so having things that feel comforting instead of irritating and frustrating is important to me. For that to be an album instead of just one individual song is beautiful.
Music being able to calm my mind is something really important to me and I love this record for being able to do that.
I bought Hanging Garden on vinyl and was going to wait to get it to post this lil review/experience thing about it but it felt right to do it now.
Miranda Reinert is a zine maker and law student based in Philadelphia. She is looking for friends. Follow me on Twitter for more on music and other things like polling the emo community on where good pizza in Philly is: @mirandareinert. Thanks for reading! There is no goal, only work!
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