The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Rilo Kiley puts away their political shoes for a new image

She appears from the curtains wearing only black hot shorts, a tight black bodice, and golden flats. Her fiery red hair flows down her chest, taking up a third of her petite, 5-foot-1-inch frame. She steps up to the microphone wearing a genuine, girl-next-door smile, which is refreshing compared to her audience of Santa Monica hipsters. She brings two drinks on stage: a bottle of Newcastle and a bottle of water.

Who is she? She is Jenny Lewis, the Las Vegas-born lead singer of alternative-rock band Rilo Kiley. The other members include Blake Sennett (guitar, vocals), Pierre De Reeder (bass), and Jason Boessel (drums). Together since 1999, they have formed unique songs, including those with political lyrics. Their opening song for the Oct. 15 show at the Santa Monica Civic Center opened with “It’s a Hit.”

“Any chimp can play human for a day. Use his opposable thumbs to iron his uniform, and run for office on election day, fancy himself a real decision maker and deploy more troops than salt in a shaker.”

These controversial lyrics obviously relate to George W. Bush and his decisions during these past years. A former child actor, Lewis proves her knowledge and opinion about world issues through some of her songs.

“It’s a Hit” is from the album “More Adventurous,” the 2004 release that made the band grow apart from it’s indie roots with its rising popularity. “More Adventurous” also included the song that perhaps the band is best known for, the hit “Portions for Foxes,” which has been used in many movies, as well as TV shows (such as Grey’s Anatomy).

Rilo Kiley’s first album, “Take offs and Landings,” is a great collection of mellow, as well as rock songs that revolve around complicated lyrics, mainly involving heartbreak. Their next album, “The Execution of All Things,” really allowed the band to develop their unique sound of experimental, raw-sounding rock. Sennett has a couple of songs on each Rilo Kiley album that showcase his personal songs. He did a great job at the show with “Ripchord,” a song which only requires his vocals and a ukulele.

After the band’s breakthrough with hits off “More Adventurous,” Jenny Lewis decided to go solo in 2006 with her album “Rabbit Fur Coat.” She went on tour with the Watson Twins as her backup singers to complement her soft, folk tunes before creating a new album this year with Rilo Kiley, “Under the Blacklight.”

From the three-year gap between albums, the change of sound is apparent. Upon first inspection, “Under the Blacklight” heads into some mainstream sounds, with electric beats replacing the band’s old alternative folk rock. The songs have simpler lyrics than songs like “It’s a Hit.” Instead of focusing on politics, this album seems to be a reflection of Lewis’s Las Vegas upbringing. The first single off the album, “The Moneymaker,” has repeated lyrics about a song of prostitution.

The band’s first three albums, complex and unique with each new song, have developed a wide fan base over the years. Changing the sound of a band that is liked for what they do is a risky move for any artist. In past years, whenever Rilo Kiley had a show, it sold out every quickly. For their Oct. 15 show in an area that is very musically inclined, it was surprising that there were tickets still available hours before the show started.

Sennett, who also is a member of the band “The Elected,” seemed to enjoy the spotlight in Santa Monica. During the end of the show, he got up on a podium with his guitar, risking serious injury in favor of showing off his musical talents.

Though Lewis and her band members acted the same, there was definitely an aire of change about them. Lewis’s outfit perhaps showed her audience that she is looking for a more provocative, sleek, and upbeat sound. This is definitely a band that will continue to experiment with new sounds, as any artist should. Though their old sound will always have a mark in music history, change was needed for them to expand their ability as an eclectic band.

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