ARTICLE MICHAEL RUNION
PHOTOGRAPHY SASHA EISENMAN
#THROWBACK 2002: V16
WITH THE RELEASE OF THEIR B-SIDE RETROSPECTIVE, RKIVES, RILO KILEY HAVE BECOME SOMETHING OF A RELIC, BUT V REMEMBERS WHEN IT SEEMED NO ONE KNEW WHO THEY WERE, AND EVERYONE WAS ABOUT TO
You know how a lot of so-called indie bands these days try to maintain credibility and integrity even as they play music that was commercial twenty years ago and flirt with (and hope for) a level of mainstream success? You know what I’m talking about? Well, if those are the kinds of bands you’re into, if that’s what gets you excited, then you probably won’t appreciate Rilo Kiley. At a time when LA is desperately trying to be NYC and when very few artists are being honest with themselves or their music, the Los Angeles–based quartet has bypassed deceit to focus its efforts on a single concern: songs. Imagine that: no gimmicks or getups. Kiley just wants to play songs. It’s good to hear that for a change, isn’t it? And just who is this group of individuals with such level-headed ideals?
Allow me to introduce them to you. There’s Jenny Lewis, lead singer/sometimes bassist/occasional guitarist. She brings that great voice with the country inflection that never touches on parody. Now say hello to Blake Sennet, constant guitarist/occasional singer. Thankfully he still subscribes to a belief in solid, melodic songwriting (in this day and age?). The next firm handshake goes to Pierre de Reeder, longtime bassist/sometimes guitarist. That rhythmic backbone is de Reeder’s doing, so point your finger in his direction. Finally, give a big wet kiss on the cheek to Jason Boesel, the band’s newly acquired drummer. Boesel gets only a one-word description: chops.
So now you might be wondering, what do these MFs sound like? What’s their deal? Like I said, Rilo Kiley is not rehashing any old retro sound—unless, of course, you feel that the late ’90s were aeons ago. Then I suppose you could say that the band is a throwback to those good ole days when Elliott Smith played by himself and Polvo was still around. I don’t want to paint a vulgar picture by offering up one of those inaccurate “so-and-so” meets “this band” comparisons, so I’ll just tell you to check out their new album, Take Offs and Landings (Barsuk). Whether you want a soft-sung acoustic piece (“Bulletproof,” “Go Ahead”), a driving rock-tinged number (“Always”), or a moving ballad (“Pictures of Success”), there is plenty to keep things interesting. But you know, now that I think about it, there is a slight chance you have already tuned in to the Kiley sound. After completing a nationwide summer tour with Nada Surf (I said “slight.” I can only guess how many V readers can honestly say that they follow Nada Surf), Kiley has been back home in Los Angeles opening for the likes of the Breeders, Pedro The Lion, and label mates Death Cab For Cutie. Trust me, Kiley is giving indie bands everywhere a good name—even if I still have no idea what the name means.
Makeup Rachel Goodwin (for Smashbox using Nars) Printing Flashtone LA