The LILYS – ” The Album ” Reissues

Posted: November 4, 2021 in MUSIC

While the Lily’s haven’t released a new record in over a decade formed in Washington, D.C in 1988., bandleader Kurt Heasley has reignited the flame in recent years, reissuing their first two albums and putting together a new line-up of the group for live shows. There is more archive digging on the way: earlier this month, they announced that Lilys’ great, ’60s pop-inspired 1999 album, “The 3-Way”, would be getting its first-ever vinyl pressing via Sundazed Records.

An ever-morphing vehicle for songwriter and sole consistent member Kurt Heasley, Lilys have swung wildly between genre and sound in different phases of their career. Moving rapidly through bandmembers, home bases, and musical fixations, Heasley took the Lilys through adventurously overdriven shoegaze on their 1992 debut “In the Presence of Nothing” before taking a sharp turn toward Kinks-indebted mod pop on 1996’s “Better Can’t Make Your Life Better”. Later releases like 2006’s “Everything Wrong Is Imaginary” forged new ground while calling on shoegaze elements from the band’s early days.

And now comes word that their 1994 EP,  “A Brief History of Amazing Letdowns”, is also being reissued, this one by Frontier Records who also reissued The Lilys’ “Escame the Photon Band” and “In the Presence of Nothing” a few years ago.

Lilys’ etheric second full-length album, “Eccsame The Photon Band“, has become a shoegaze collector’s favourite. Out of print for twenty years, the highly sought-after, rare first-edition vinyl is nearly impossible to come by. This 21st anniversary re-release includes original artwork and has an enhanced dynamic range with the re-ordering of songs. “The Hermit Crab” has been moved and now begins side two, allowing for a deeper cut of side one and therefore increased audio fidelity, creating a more exciting listening experience than previously available. “Eccsame The Photon Band” has been described as “one of the Lilys‘ best,” “a hallucinatory revelation” and “a masterpiece of mood, atmosphere and production.” Originally released 1994.

The Lilys are a very underrated band that sit right next to MBV in shoegaze conversations. Their second album is near perfect and a great follow-up to their excellent debut. 

Heasley relocated to Boston and Lilys took their first dramatic turn with Better Can’t Make Your Life Better. The album completely abandoned the dreamy shoegaze sounds the band had just a few years earlier, opting instead for songs strongly influenced by the Kinks, the Small Faces, and other British mod pop bands from the mid-’60s. This phase of the band’s style took them through the next few years and resulted in two EPs and their 1999 album “The 3 Way“, which received critical praise and was their sole release on major-label Sire.

“Amazing Letdowns” contains one of their best-known songs, “Ginger” (which appeared in a ’90s CK One commercial and a ’00s Cadillac ad), It was among the list of Best Shoegaze EPs of the Early ’90s, and has been woefully out of print pretty much since it was released, and hasn’t been on streaming services either. This new reissue will be out February 12th and comes in expanded form, taking five of the six songs from the original EP and replaces the sixth track (which was “Glosseder” on the vinyl and “Evel Knievel” on the CD) with previously unreleased song “G. Cobalt Franklin.” Additionally, the reissue adds four songs (recorded in 1994) that were on their 2000 split EP with Aspera Ad Astra.

These will not be the last Lilys reissues we’re likely to see, either. Three more albums — 1996’s “Better Can’t Make Your Life Better” (which contains their UK Top 20 hit “A Nanny in Manhattan”), 2003’s “Precollection” and 2006’s “Everything Wrong Is Imaginary” — have yet to get the reissue treatment, and there are dozens of unreleased (in some cases, unfinished) tracks from the last 12 years that have yet to see the light of day, too. One of those unfinished tracks ended up being completed and realeased as “Unheard Of Curiosities” for the “Lodge 49” soundtrack, and was the first new Lilys song in ages.

Kurt talk’s about the reissues, “Lodge 49“, getting songs placed in TV commercials, playing Top of the Pops, the possibilities of future tours once COVID is out of the way, and a whole lot more. A hyper-intelligent, hyper-literate and very funny person, Healy talks at lightning speed, free-associating and swerving through tangents.

Lilys have been reissuing much of their ’90s catalogue on vinyl. We got “In The Presence Of Nothing” and “Eccsame the Photon Band” a few years ago, and this year saw “A Brief History Of Amazing Letdowns” and “The 3-Way” get repressed. To complete the collection,1996’s “Better Can’t Make Your Life Better“, is also getting a vinyl reissue via Sundazed Records.

Trailer for the as-yet-unreleased documentary film on Heasley and his remarkable music. Kurt was asked about this film in an online interview and this is what was said: Q-Do you know if the film about Lilys, “Everything Wrong is Imaginary”, will be released? It seems pretty fascinating from the trailer.

The television series “Lodge 49” used some of our songs, and awoke the current incarnation of Warner Music. [Both Better Can’t Make Your Life Better and The 3-Way came out via Warner imprints/subsidiaries Che/Sire, respectively.] This was the third Warner Bros. Records owner since ’99. Like the guy who owned Warner Bros sold it to Edgar Bronfman Jr a couple of years after we were done on the label. Then Len Blavatnik bought it from Bronfman, Jr. And when you have that level of top down reorganizing, there’s nothing organizationally left. So I basically flew out to LA and I was like, “Hey, I don’t mean to be a total douche, but that Kurt Heasley, that’s me. I’m Kurt, that guy from this television show,” They realized after six months of not taking any payment, “Oh wait, this is one of ours.” And a couple of days after Business Affairs got wind that Che/Sire was “one of theirs,” they took the check. A few days after that, [those albums] went up on iTunes.

We’ve just been in contact like, “Okay. Hi, like I said, I’m Kurt.” And so basically all year was attempting to discover our current relationship — Lilys current relationship — with the Warner Bros. products. That’s what I have to refer to them as, they’re no longer records. They’re these things in a database, in a filing system probably in Ohio. Something really just dark. Not Ohio. Ohio’s great. I’m talking about Warner Bros’ filing cabinets. As we were leaving LA, Sundazed reached out to Rhino Records’ Jason Jones who said, “Oh, this is amazing. Sundazed wants to do a [reissue].” I was like, “Wow, that’s really incredible.

My first Beau Brummels record was a Sundazed pressing. So I’m like, “Okay well, there we go.” Beau Brummels were so hot back in ’91, you had to buy a reissue. [laughs] Introducing the Beau Brummels, listen to that shit. That is Love Rock 101. I’m like, “Oh, it’s true, man. Wait a minute. Did Sly Stone produce this? What the fuck was going on in San Francisco?” [Laughs] .

Better Can’t Make Your Life Better” was originally released via Elektra Records subsidiary Primary Recordings and found The Lilys shifting from the sludgy/shoegazy sound of their indie label albums into more of a jangly ’60s psych-pop / British Invasion vibe akin to The Kinks, The Monkees and The Creation. The album also gave Lilys a belated UK Top 20 hit with “Nanny in Manhattan,” after the song was used in a Roman Coppola-directed Levis ad in 1998. More recently, a couple of the album’s songs made it onto the soundtrack of AMC series Lodge 49.

2012 saw The Lily’s re-imerge with the Bowie-flavoured song “Well Travelled Is Protest” on a split-7″ with Big Troubles. By the 2020s, the band’s earliest albums had become increasingly rare collectors’ items, and various reissue campaigns were launched.

This is the first vinyl pressing of the album since its initial release, and has been remastered for vinyl by Joe Lizzi and cut and pressed at Third Man in Detroit. It also features restored artwork. You can preorder Better Can’t Make Your Life Better in the BV shop, and listen to the album –watch the “Nanny in Manhattan” video .If you haven’t heard the “Eccsame the Photon Band” album, give it a listen.

Heasley has collaborated with other acts such as Nobody, appearing on the band’s 2005 single “Fancy”, a cover of the Kinks song, and The Brian Jonestown Massacre, singing “Tschuss” on their 2003 album “And This Is Our Music”. He also contributed “effects” to Poole’s “Snowcicle” on the band’s Alaska Days album, and performed on Apples In Stereo’s 1995 album “Fun Trick Noisemaker“, and with Neko Case’s 2009 album Middle Cyclone. 

Albums:

  • In the Presence of Nothing (1992),
  • A Brief History of Amazing Letdowns (1994) (10″ mini album), 
  • Eccsame the Photon Band (1994), SpinART, reissued in (2015), 
  • Better Can’t Make Your Life Better (1996),
  • The 3 Way (1999), 
  • Zero Population Growth: Bliss Out Volume 15 (1999), 
  • Precollection (2003), Manifesto, reissued in Europe with 3 bonus tracks as The Lilys (2004), Rainbow Quartz
  • Everything Wrong Is Imaginary (2006),

He has also produced recordings by other artists including The Asteroid#4 (Apple Street: A Classic Tale Of Love And Hate, King Richard’s Collectibles), The Ladybug Transistor,

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