“Bill’s Picks” is a new column we’ll feature right here on our blog each week featuring a new release selected and reviewed by our smartest employee, William Boyle–known as Bill to most folks. Bill is from Brooklyn, NY but lives in Oxford now. He is the author of the novel GRAVESEND and the story collection DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY. You can find him behind the counter at the record store on Sundays and Mondays. You can buy his books at Square Books in Oxford.
Bill picks Light Green Leaves by Little Wings and No Flashlight by Mount Eerie.
Two of my favorite records of the 2000s. Two essential reissues.
Light Green Leaves was originally released in 2002 on three formats (CD, LP, and cassette) in three different versions. The CD was the definitive studio album, the LP and cassette included sketches and rougher versions of the songs. This reissue is the first time that the definitive CD version has been put out on vinyl. For that reason alone, it’s worth picking up. It’s a record that has never left heavy rotation for me. When it came out, I’d just graduated college and was in wandering mode. It’s a perfect album for creek swimming, for windows down mountain-driving, for beer-drinking in the front yard. It’s pliable and pleasant, soft and silly. When my wife and I had kids, I also realized it’s a great children’s record. Try not to goof off with your kids to “Boom!” or “Uh-Oh (It’s Morningtime Again).” In that way, Kyle Field echoes Harry Nilsson. The comparison doesn’t end there. Field’s best songs—“Look at What the Light Did Now,” “Fall Flood,” and “Light Green Leaves”—have the same sort of shape and sparkle as Nilsson’s best. There’s no irony here, only goofiness and sweet wonder. Gnome Life Records, responsible for this excellent reissue, calls this “drifter-pop” and says the songs, like their singer, are “open-hearted ramblers.” Couldn’t agree more. Pick this up and let it soundtrack your summer.
My intro to Kyle Fields’s Little Wings came through K Records compatriot Phil Elverum’s The Microphones. It Was Hot We Stayed in the Water and The Glow, Pt. 2 were end-of- college staples for me. Elverum’s last album as The Microphones was 2003’s Mount Eerie. After that, in a move echoing Jason Molina’s switch from Songs: Ohia to Magnolia Electric Co., Elverum started recording as Mount Eerie. 2005’s No Flashlight was his first major release under this new moniker (and, I could be wrong here, but I’m pretty sure it was one of the first releases on his own label, PW Elverum & Sun, Ltd., still going strong). No Flashlight, remastered and reissued here, is a difficult and beautiful masterpiece. It’s a record that’s revealed itself slowly to me over the last decade. I visited Anacortes, Washington in 2007 and stood on Mount Eerie. These lines from opener “I Know No One” rattled in my head: “Knowing no one will understand these songs, I try to sing them clearer / Even though no one has ever asked, ‘What does Mount Eerie mean?’ / I have tried to repeatedly explain in complicated songs / But tonight we will try to find out / I know no one and no one knows me.” I was at the beginning of understanding then. Older now, I see new things. It’s on this album that Elverum transforms into a modern day Li Po. Asking questions, making observations, letting nature work through him. These songs are free of attachment, ethereal, and profound. They have some sort of mystical sludgy storm-magic.
Also, Elverum broke some sad news the other day. Help, if you can.