on 27 May 2007
So the challenge - to write a review of a Tilly and the Wall album without mentioning...um, you know...their unusual percussion technique. Here goes.
First and foremost, Tilly and the Wall are proudly, fiercely, unashamedly melodic. You want tuneless sqwonking under the guise of "free expression" or "avant garde jazz" or whatever it's calling itself this week - go somewhere else. This is music for people who aren't embarrassed to like tunes - great big, pretty, sing-along-and-to-hell-with-the-neighbours tunes. This has led to some accusations of being formulaic and even (shock horror) a little twee. Well, they make not break down any musical barriers, but as experimentation is so often a byword for painfully unlistenable claptrap, who cares? Bottom of Barrels bounces along very prettily. Plus of course they do boast an unusual perc...whoops, that was close.
Stand out tracks include the...er...singalong Sing Songs Along, final track Brave Day (which even features drums! Yes, drums!), the uber-catchy and slightly sweary The Freest Man, and the astonishing Rainbows In The Dark, a song which contains enough words to make Paul Simon's lyrical technique seem positively taciturn and which moves from trot to canter to gallop before collapsing into its "hold back the river" coda, gasping for breath.
Perhaps the highlight vocally though has to be Lost Girls, in which main singer Kianna Alarid soars and shimmers majestically, but nevers shows off or grates on the nerves like certain "strong" singers can (evening, Mariah). If her vocal performance on this track alone doesn't send shivers down your spine, you're an invertebrate.
There we are then, and I even managed not to mention the tap-dancing.
Tilly and the Wall pioneered a weird new kind of indie-pop -- tap-dance pop!
That worked well in their debut, and it works even better in "Bottoms of Barrels," which makes everything about their sound fuller. The instrumentation is bigger, the melodies are catchier, the tapping is more promiment, and their second album is just more fun in general.
It opens with echoing vocals over a barely-audible electric guitar... then it's joined in by piano, increasingly with drama as the heels start ratatatting in the background. "I was kidnapped real young by the sweet taste of love/Built a fondness for things that just weren't good enough/I cradled the crow, always shooed off the dove/Which tagged me a naïve son," Kianna Alarid sings a little breathlessly.
It's followed up by the lo-fi mellotron swirls of "Urgency" and the Latin-flavoured stomp-stomps of "Bad Education" ("Girls and boys and full frustration/St. Valentine, I think I taste it!"). Then they tap and frolic through shimmering keyboard pop, pretty little piano ballads, solid indiepop, and tambourine-laden dance music.
This Omaha pop band really does have something special -- they really add life and vibrancy to retro indie-pop, and they have a knack for spinning up melodies that make you want to dance whether you like it or not. Perhaps the only weak spot is that their folkier songs are less engaging than their sprightly ones, though these are still above average
The album seems to center on unhappy, rebellious youth -- they're young, feisty, and they want OUT INTO THE WORLD. Boys who want to be girls, frightened young girls, and teens who "slept on the bad side of town." While the lyrics can be playful and fun, they can also be very dark ("so when your bones are broke and you're all alone/and the fog's so thick you can't see up close/just know that i will end up strangled too")
The music is a colourful swirl of bells, tambourine, xylophone, recorder and swirls of warm-tinged keyboard, with some guitar and bass lurking down there somewhere. No drums -- Jamie Williams just tap-dances really hard to the rhythm of the music, and surprisingly it works as well, if not better.
Tilly and the Wall are still as colourful and infectious as ever, and anyone who adored their first album will practically worship "Bottoms of Barrels."
on 5 May 2009
The first song I heard by Tilly and the wall was "Nights of the living dead" on their first album "Wild like Children".
I loved it and I bought the album (which is really great)
So then I decided to also buy "Bottoms of Barrels" so I could hear their other stuff.
and yeah although "Wild like Children" and "O" are great I think this is my favourite.
Every song is different and so full of passion.
They are often compared to bright eyes..and yes they are slightly similar but at the same time Tilly and the wall are totally original.
This album is simply fresh.And really addictive.
I couldn't stop listening to it for a week after buying it.
"Coughing Colours" and "Rainbows in the dark" are my favourite two songs on this CD but "Bad education" and "Lost Girls" are also brilliant.
I encourage you to buy this CD if you like really innovative,beautiful music with lyrics you can relate to. With a really good beat.
And the tap dancing does not sound odd.whatsoever.
on 11 December 2006
great 2nd album, not quite up to the standard of the first but still pretty good. The tap danceing instead of a drummer (the other instruments being an acoustic guitar and a key board with 3 singers) has not grown tired and set them into competition with Belle and seb for twee ist band. Up tempo happy sounding song with a campfireisdh sound nut they still get you tapping your feet. Stand out tracks are sing songs aloud , love song and rainbows in the dark.