Now here's why we need independent record stores: I first heard Rilo Kiley while trying to unload some weak used CD's (one good song, lots of filler) at Rhino Records in L.A. "Execution of All Things" was playing over the store speakers, and immediately I thought -- no, can it be? -- yes, alternative rock that's actually catchy! Most alternative rock albums are vast atonal blurs of auditory sameness. But Rilo Kiley's "Execution of All Things" dares to display different tones and colors, and generally defies description. Indeed, the closest I can come to describing their sound is "Nancy Griffith with an electric guitar filtered through a David Lynch soundtrack." And that's not even close. Do yourself a favor: listen to this album. Not the samples below, but the whole thing. You may find yourself asking the same thing: "How can someone (lead singer Jenny Lewis) sound so cute yet so dark at the same time?"
I can only pick out two downsides to the entire album. First, the cover is atrociously ugly -- yeah, go ahead artsy people, call me a Philistine with no appreciation for drab blue-and-brown sketches of homely people, but you gotta admit it's ugly, and does a disservice to the sound it makes no attempt to represent. Second, and this is strictly a personal preference, but I cannot listen to cowriter Blake Sennett sing -- unless I'm in dire need of a nap. I think a general rule most male vocalists should follow is to try to sound less feminine than your female partner. But that's just me. And other than his two tracks, the album is worth repeated listening. I won't be trying to unload it at Rhino Records anytime soon.