ill lit

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Daniel Ahearn

[The astute may notice that I have changed layouts a smidge — Benevolence wasn’t widget-friendly and when I updated to WP 2.5, it had to go. I miss its turquoise self very much and I’ll have to visit Song, By Toad once in awhile to see it again. But this new layout is actually easier to frak around with than Benevolence, so hello to Tarski!]

The bleepity blooping shick-a-shick that characterized Ill Lit got me right on board with their 2006 album “Tom Cruise.” It’s electronic alt-country, perfect for LA, where the man behind the music does his work. He is Daniel Ahearn, and he recently released an EP called “Pray For Me By Name.” The email I was sent notes that the muted sound on the EP is deliberate:

Late in 2007, Daniel was robbed. His electronics, his boom box, keyboards, and pedals—all stolen. All the songs on his new EP, Pray For Me By Name, were written to be songs that Daniel felt like he could play with just an acoustic guitar and his singing.

It sucks beyond belief that someone would steal all that equipment (though it happened to a lot of folks last year). But Ahearn didn’t let it stop him, and there is still some nice electronical buzzing in “Down For the Count” (and a violin too). The EP is fairly standard soft country, well lyricked and easy to listen to — plus, the man knows who Anne Carson is, so he’s obviously a superior being [sorry, poetry geek moment]. If you liked Ill Lit, consider buying “Pray,” and hopefully Daniel won’t stay down for the count for long.

Daniel Ahearn — Site | Myspace

[ed note — tracks removed. pls contact me for a copy.]

Daniel Ahearn — Down For the Count

Ill Lit — The Homewrecking Ball

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Ill Lit

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.

Ill Lit: Site | Myspace

[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