Lilys – live at VPRO, Amsterdam – August 11, 1996 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
Lilys to close out the week. Live in session for radio network VPRO in Amsterdam and recorded on August 11, 1996.
Lilys formed in Washington, D.C in 1988. The only constant member is Kurt Heasley, with the line-up changing regularly. Several of the band’s tracks have been used in television advertisements, including the band’s biggest hit, “A Nanny In Manhattan”, which reached No. 16 in the UK after being used in a Levi’s advertisement directed by Roman Coppola.
The band’s music has shifted style several times in its history. The early recordings, including debut album In The Presence of Nothing, were strongly influenced by My Bloody Valentine. They then moved through dream pop before settling on a new style that has been described as mod revival and a particularly strong influence from The Kinks, and other 1960s bands such as The Monkees and The Zombies leading to the 1996 album Better Can’t Make Your Life Better, Later releases included elements of psychedelic rock and a return to their earlier shoegazing sound. The band have gained a reputation for sounding very similar to other artists and bands over the years, with Michael Sandlin of Pitchfork Media going as far as saying “You might say Lilys frontman Kurt Heasley is a world-class thief”, but as one journalist put it “I know we’re supposed to hate bands that sound too much like other bands, but the difference with the Lilys is that they do it so blatantly and so shamelessly that it’s somehow rendered okay.”
In 1996 a Lilys song ‘A Nanny In Manhattan’ appeared on the Levis Christmas advert. The band subsequently sold 85,000 copies of the single and appeared on Top Of The Pops, the first band to play completely live on the show for 20 years. However, things all went wrong when their recording contract was inherited by a major label’s imprint. Despite their popularity and delivery of one their finest records (The 3 Way), the band were pushed aside and near on forgotten. But you can’t stop the pop.
Robert Christgau described the band’s sound as “amplified watercolors”.
Have a listen and get ready for some fireworks . . .or not.