When I was an Army brat teenager, I finally found the radio, thanks to my younger sister. Back before then, I’d been content to listen to my dad’s Beatles & Beach Boys collection, but then my sister turned on AFN (Armed Forces Network) and we were all, “Woah! Music!.” My sister listened to … whatever it was … I can’t remember (sorry J). But me? I turned the dial straight to country music.
When I was thirteen, my favorite band was Alabama. What did I find in those country tunes that was so comforting? Did I like that it sounded like Hank Williams, who was also in my dad’s collection? Was I attracted to those themes of loss and longing? Did I want to go down in the river three times, like Hank, but only come up twice? I have no idea — probably, I wasn’t thinking that hard. And then in ninth grade I won a copy of “Out of Time” in a contest and that was it. Wham! I was smack into rock & roll (although, you’ll note, “Texarkana” and “Country Feedback” put me on solid ground).
Since then I’ve gone pretty far away from those down-home boys in Alabama, and very seldom do I listen to straight-up country music. But I am absolutely susceptible to country and rock’s bastard child, alt-country. The first time I heard Ryan Adams, I knew I was home. In fact, I think alt-country is probably my favorite genre. The Old 97s, Whiskeytown, Haley Bonar, Tarkio, The Roy Owens Jr. — they all make me a happy happy girl. Of course, what is alt-country, you ask? It’s just a tag to help people classify the crush of music that surrounds them. Country and rock are enormous influences on each other, but it’s not too often that you get a great blend of both. When the blend is just right, you call it alt-country.
All this is to say — Ill Lit. They’re out of LA, of all places, but I guess that’s ok, because this is still the West, right? They have an “Old 97s Lite” sound — lacking Rhett Miller’s frenetic pace, but with the same kind of solid writing. And interestingly, they mix the country sound with some great electronica sampling. I wouldn’t call it fall-over-and-die music, like when you hear Heartbreaker, but it’s good, and it’s getting better, and that’s all I can ask for. They have a new album (self-released on their Myspace) called “Tom Cruise.” I hope the man himself doesn’t sue.
[These tracks have been removed. You can contact me if you’d like a copy.]
Ill Lit – Freeway
Ill Lit – Diner Girls
Ill Lit – Los Angeles
Tags: ill lit
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