Posted by: will | August 3, 2006

Tilly And The Wall…


Tilly And The Wall “Bottoms Of Barrels” (Team Love)

Buy it at Insound!

Sometimes the description of a band can cause you to miss out on something truly great. Frankly, that was the case with Tilly And The Wall. The band released their debut album, Wild Like Children, in 2004 but I had never bothered to check them out. A combination of factors led to that. First, the band was the intitial signing to Conor Oberst’s (Bright Eyes) label Team Love. While I enjoy Bright Eyes, the hype behind him is a definite turn off. So, of course I thought any band (much less the first) for the label would be overrated to say the least. Secondly, the description of the band comes off as a gimmick at best. So you have an indie pop band who’s percussion is led by a tap dancer? While it may sound interesting it certainly did not lead me to run out and buy the album. My thinking was that they must not write good enough songs to be noticed otherwise, right? I could not be more wrong though.

Bottoms of Barrels is the sophomore album for Tilly And The Wall and it’s a dynamic and unique take on the Saddle Creek sound. The band certainly takes cues from Saddle Creek brethren like Rilo Kiley and Bright Eyes. In fact two members of Tilly And The Wall were involved in Park Ave., one of Oberst’s earlier endeavors. However, Tilly And The Wall offer some unique twists and turns away from their influential friends. The band can certainly stand on their own merit. They write great pop songs with enormous hooks that have a tendency to just leave you dumbfounded. The band attacks their songs with unbridled enthusiasm as they employ three different vocalists (2 female, 1 male). It all works together to create some kind of beautifully structured chaos. It’s remarkably well done.

“Rainbows In The Dark” starts Bottoms Of Barrels off with a brief harmonica and horns before Neely Jenkins’s vocals start in. Her voice has a wonderful dexterity to it. The song is about growing up and learning life’s lessons. I love the lyrics, I laid on my back, let the punk record spin/The stomping guitar, it was shooting out stars/It all went to my heart, yeah some rainbows in the dark, because I can definitely relate to the feeling. “Bad Education” begins with some spirited stomping and clapping before the rhythm of the tapping kicks in and the song is off to the races. The chorus is so addictive you’ll find yourself singing along in no time. On “Lost Girls”, the outstanding vocals of Kianna Alarid sound a great deal like Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley. Alarid’s vocals take center stage as she powerfully belts out her lyrics with great passion. “Love Song” offers a double take as vocalist Derek Pressnall sounds eerily like Oberst of Bright Eyes. It’s a fantastic slow number which rivals anything Mr. Oberst has written himself. I love the spirit that Tilly And The Wall possess. It emanates from a song like “Sing Songs Along” with its lyrics that touch on being free and feeling at home in the underground (’cause the dirt feels good when you’re underground). “The Freest Man” brings back Alarid’s vocals once again and dabbles in some electronics as well. You can feel the deeply personal nature of the song in Alarid’s vocals. The lyrics shake your head/loosen that grip/raise up your fist/you are the freest man/open your mouth/scream it out loud/forget all your doubts/you are the freest man are inspiring to say the least. The album ends with “Coughing Colors”, another down-tempo song with Pressnall taking the lead vocals. It’s a somber ending to a fantastic album of highs and lows.

Bottom Of Barrels is remarkably mature while still holding on to an amazing youthful exuberance. It’s an incredible combination that not too many bands can manage. Tilly And The Wall are one of those bands where you can seemingly ignore the lyrics and just sing along. Or you can choose to delve into them and be even more impressed. Perhaps the band comes off as trite or cheesy to some but I for one can feel these songs. I think the closing lyrics off of “Nights Of The Living Dead”, from the band’s debut album, perfectly describe this band and their music… I want to fuck it up/I feel so alive/And I feel. What’s more to be said?

RIYL: Rilo Kiley, Bright Eyes, Park Ave.

Listen: Full Album Download



  1. bright eyes lyrics

    I Googled for something completely different, but found your page…and have to say thanks. nice read.

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