by Rachel Brame —
Let me just say, I have a particular affection for this record. In a nutshell: It’s a short burst of energy, packed with roaring psychedelia and surreal lyrical play. I was introduced to The Lilys from a friend many moons ago (whom I had the pleasure of knowing but all too briefly). It was one of those noteworthy moments when you feel genuine excitement radiating from someone else about a band “You HAVE to check these guys out!” This kind of energy seems to come out when one knows people who’ve played in the band. From our encounter, I took home a borrowed copy of their CD and my eyes and my ears were opened to this highly eclectic group and awesome record! A Brief History of Amazing Letdowns is truly unique since The Lily’s catalogue ranges in genres and shifts from album to album from the hazy sounds of dreamy shoegazer music, to indie power rock, to spot on 60’s Brit pop. Originating from the D.C. area, the band’s incarnations have shape shifted with a wide variety of players over the years with the exception of Kurt Heasley who has also moved the band’s home base from city to city and coast to coast.
Originally released in March 1994, on sipnART Records (within their 1st Epoch era) this one is their 2nd offering in a long career spanning 9 albums and 12 singles/EPs and lasting over three decades. Clocking in at just over 21 minutes long A Brief History…. is technically classified as a ‘mini album’, not as an EP, but regardless it packs a potent punch of heavily reverberating guitar sounds and booming drums throughout its entire duration. “Ginger” opens the album with its crashing symbols, resonating fuzzy guitars, which seamlessly merge with a melancholy pop melody. The songs proceeding which include the nonsensically titled “ycjcyaqftj”; along with “Any Place I’ve Lived”; “Jenny, Andrew, and Me”; and “Dandy” all blend together well as a coherent amalgamation of tunes. The last song is aptly titled “Evel Knievel “which can best be described as one big blob of sonic chaos. The album goes out with a loud tangle of noise reminiscent of the ending crescendo on Dinosaur Jr.’s Bug LP.
I honestly have no idea what exactly Kurt Heasley was listening to at the time but A Brief History… has reckonings of classic mid 90’s Matador groups like Pavement, Guided By Voices and Yo La Tengo. If those three bands melted together and were sprinkled with some kaleidoscopic sound effects, this would be the album that would come out of the oven. It reminds me of the Zombies Odyssey & Oracle album…..but with a grungesque sounding twist. Overall, it reminds me of summertime and in my top 10 rotation of ultimate driving mixes. So take my advice on this one: pick a warm sunny day, take a ride somewhere, crank this up, and just sail along with the music. You won’t be disappointed.