Lilys
(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso)
In The Presence Of Nothing (1992), 7/10
A Brief History Of Amazing Letdowns (1994), 6/10
Eccsame The Photon Band (1995), 6.5/10
Better Can't Make Your Life Better (1996), 6/10
Service For The Soon To Be Departed (1997), 6/10 (EP)
The 3-Way (1998), 5/10
Zero Population Growth (1999), 7/10 (EP)
The Lilys/Aspera Ad Astra (2000), 5/10
Precollection (2003), 4/10
Everything Wrong Is Imaginary (2006), 4.5/10
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Lilys is basically a nickname for Kurt (Wally) Heasley, a Philadelphia-based singer and guitarist, because the rest of the band changes with every album.

Heasley initially fell under the spell of Dinosaur Jr and My Bloody Valentine, as evidenced by the single February 14th (1991) and the album In The Presence Of Nothing (Spinart, 1992). Tone Bender, Collider, Elizabeth Colour Wheel and Periscope are quintessential shoegazing. The 12-minute instrumental The Way Snowflakes Fall departs from the album's center of gravity for a quasi-ambient excursion.

The EP A Brief History Of Amazing Letdowns (Spinart, 1994) signaled a transition in progress, from shoegazing to power-pop, with well-formed, catchy songs like Any Place I've Lived and Ginger (possibly their masterpiece).

Lengthy, majestic amorphous melodies in the vein of Talk Talk and Codeine surfaced on Eccsame The Photon Band (Spinart, 1995). High Writer At Home, FBI And Their Toronto Transmitters and Day And The Monkey signaled a hardening of Lilys' stance on the song format, but a few pop ditties (Hubble, Kodiak, Radiotricity) confimed a change of heart.

It came as no surprise that Better Can't Make Your Life Better (Che, 1996) suddenly resorted to a retrò sound, a blatant revisitation of Sixties garage-rock (Kinks, Yardbirds, Who), as in Cambridge California, Nanny In Manhattan, The Tennis System, Bring Up The Stamp. Heasley was now impersonating Davies and trying to rewrite a Village Green Preservation Society for the end of the century.

On the other hand, the EP Service For The Soon To Be Departed (Primary, 1997) is a confused, unfocused pile of Sixties stereotypes that don't quite coalesce. Heasley fares better with the innocent pop songs that pay tribute to the Beach Boys (Hark An Open Channel) and to the Monkees (The Energy Channel).

Heasley's garage-rock odyssey resumed with The 3-Way (Sire, 1998), that boasts two of his best songs, Dimes Make Dollars and A Tab For The Holiday, besides And One and The Spirits Merchant, but also lushly arranged jams like Accepting Applications At University, Socs Hip and the funky Leo Ryan. Instruments include banjo, toy piano, Hammond organ, harpsichord.

The mini-album Zero Population Growth (Darla, 1999) walked the line: the retro-pop of previous albums was set aside and replaced by electronic, ambient, psychedelic, and kraut-rock experiments. The eight-minutes The Escape is a percussive nightmare à la Neu, that can be divided approximately in two sections: first, cyclic polyrhythms invade the whole sonic space, and then melodic themes percolate through the lattice of beats. Back Again is equally hypnotic, and the mutation from the tribal setting of the beginning to the distorted landscape of the ending is even more extreme.
The Law builds a moody ambient soundscape via sequencers and minimal melodies à la Tangerine Dream, while the dance novelty You Win harks back to the likes of Vangelis and Jarre. The fractured disco-music of Windows and the industrial noises of Sharper Laws further refine the research program.

The dreamy Hymn is Heasley's main contribution to the split The Lilys/Aspera Ad Astra (Tiger Style, 2000).

There is little to salvage on Precollection (Manifesto, 2003), an album that documents Heasley's latest metamorphosis into a Smiths clone.

Everything Wrong Is Imaginary (Manifesto, 2006), produced by hip-hop specialist Michael Musmanno, tried to reinvent Kurt Heasley as a more eclectic and colorful musician, but, other than the more robust guitar effects of Black Carpet Magic, the mild synthesizer touches of With Candy, the instrumental Everything Wrong Is Imaginary, and the quasi-disco A Diana's Diana the effort is mostly pointless. The atmospheric pop of The Night Sun Over San Juan and Still in All the Glitter is not even lively.

(Translation by/Tradotto da Davide Carrozza)

I Lilys sono fondamentalmente un soprannome per Kurt (Wally) Heasley, un cantante e chitarrista stabilitosi a Philadelphia, perché il resto della band cambia a ogni album.

All'inizio, Heasley fu preso dall'incantesimo di Dinosaur Jr e My Bloody Valentine, com'è evidente nel singolo February 14th (1991) e nell'album In The Presence Of Nothing (Spinart, 1992). Tone Bender, Collider, Elizabeth Colour Wheel e Periscope sono essenzialmente shoegazing. Lo strumentale di 12 minuti The Way Snowflakes Fall si allontana dal centro di gravità dell'album per un'escursione quasi-ambient.

L'EP A Brief History Of Amazing Letdowns (Spinart, 1994) segnalò una transizione in corso, dallo shoegazing al power-pop, con canzoni orecchiabili di buona forma come Any Place I've Lived e Ginger (probabilmente il loro capolavoro).

Lunghe melodie amorfe e maestose sulla falsariga di Talk Talk e Codeine si affacciano sulla superficie di Eccsame The Photon Band (Spinart, 1995). High Writer At Home, FBI And Their Toronto Transmitters e Day And The Monkey segnalarono un consilidarsi della posizione dei Lilys nel formato canzone, ma pochi ritornelli pop (Hubble, Kodiak, Radiotricity) confermarono un cambio di registro.

Non fu sorprendente che Better Can't Make Your Life Better (Che, 1996) improvvisamente ricorresse a sonorità retro, un'evidente rivisitazione del garage-rock degli anni Sessanta (Kinks, Yardbirds, Who), come in Cambridge California, Nanny In Manhattan, The Tennis System, Bring Up The Stamp. Heasley stava impersonando Davies nel tentativo di riscrivere un Village Green Preservation Society per la fine del secolo.

Dall'altra parte, l'EP Service For The Soon To Be Departed (Primary, 1997) è un mucchio confuso e dispersivo di stereotipi etereogenei degli anni Sessanta. Ad Heasley va meglio con le canzoni pop innocenti che rendono omaggio ai Beach Boys (Hark An Open Channel) e ai Monkees (The Energy Channel).

L'odissea garage-rock di Heasley riprese con The 3-Way (Sire, 1998), che vanta due delle sue migliori canzoni, Dimes Make Dollars e A Tab For The Holiday, oltre a And One e The Spirits Merchant, ma anche a improvvisazioni lussuosamente arrangiate come Accepting Applications At University, Socs Hip e la funky Leo Ryan. Tra gli strumenti usati troviamo banjo, un piano giocattolo, organo Hammond, clavicembalo.

Il mini-album Zero Population Growth (Darla, 1999) passò il confine: il retro-pop degli album precedenti fu messo da parte a favore di esperimenti elettronici, ambient, psichedelici e kraut-rock. Gli otto minuti di The Escape sono un incubo percussivo alla Neu, che possono essere divisi in due sezioni: nella prima, poliritmi ciclici invadono lo spazio sonico; nella seconda, temi melodici colano attraverso il reticolo dei battiti. Back Again è ugualmente ipnotica, e la mutazione dall'ambientazione tribale dell'inizio al panorama distorto della fine è ancora più estrema.
The Law costruisce un suggestivo paesaggio sonoro ambient mediante sequencer e melodie minimali alla Tangerine Dream, mentre la novelty dance You Win riecheggia Vangelis e Jarre. La disco-music fratturata di Windows e i rumori industriali di Sharper Laws raffina ulteriormente il programma di ricerca.

La sognante Hymn è il contributo principale di Heasley allo split The Lilys/Aspera Ad Astra (Tiger Style, 2000).

C'è poco da salvare in Precollection (Manifesto, 2003), un resoconto dell'ultima metamorfosi di Heasley in un clone degli Smiths.

Everything Wrong Is Imaginary (Manifesto, 2006), prodotto dallo specialista dello hip-hop Michael Musmanno, tentò di reinventare Kurt Heasley come un musicista più eclettic e colorato, ma, a parte gli effetti di chitarra più robusti in Black Carpet Magic, i miti tocchi di sintetizzatore in With Candy, la strumentale Everything Wrong Is Imaginary e la quasi-disco A Diana's Diana, lo sforzo è inutile. Non travolge neanche il pop atmosferico di The Night Sun Over San Juan e Still in All the Glitter.

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