Champaign, IL trio Headlights will release its second album, Some Racing, Some Stopping on Feb. 19,
2008 on their hometown label, Polyvinyl Records. The band has built a devoted following by touring non-stop since the band formed in 2004. However, after all this touring, much of it just as a three-piece, the band members have learned that they cannot do it alone. This time they will be joined by Nick Sanborn (Decibully) on bass and accordion, as well as a rotating cast of friends, including John Owen (Shipwreck) and Kenny Seibert (Decibully), on guitar and other odds and ends, filling out the sound that is established on the album.
The story of Headlights’ new album starts in an old, two-story farmhouse just outside of Champaign, IL. Nestled between corn and soybean fields, and within view of encroaching industry-a freight train line, a FedEx plant, and the local mall visible from the 2nd floor window-this farmhouse was the site where the band wrote and recorded its sophomore full length album, Some Racing, Some Stopping.
To fully understand what went into the album, one must first understand what led up to it. Since its formation in 2004, the band has toured virtually nonstop, playing over 300 shows in the past two and a half years in support of both its debut Enemies EP and its stunning 2006 full length, Kill Them With Kindness. It was a remarkable achievement, but ultimately Headlights members Tristan Wraight, Erin Fein, and Brett Sanderson needed a break. So in the Spring of 2007, Fein and Sanderson moved into Wraight’s farmhouse, and leisurely, little by little, the trio started to write. This time they wanted something different from the live-based approach to writing and recording that had led to the obsessively crafted takes on Kill Them With Ki ndness. This time they wanted something more natural, more immediate, more spontaneous. As Fein says, they wanted to “capture the moment of a new song.”
Now working from home, without the pressures of studio timeframes and a ticking hourly rate, the band was free to write and record as they saw fit. The songs were recorded as they were written, and many of the tracks that were used were first takes. Based around Wraight’s acoustic guitar and Fein’s keyboards, the songs on Some Racing, Some Stopping purposefully lack much of the spacey atmospherics that define the band’s earlier work. Instead, the album, which is self-produced with drummer Sanderson manning the boards, is steeped in a classic pop sensibility, reminiscent of the ’60s, Brill Building song craft, and Phil Spector production. Songs like the chiming, harmonic “Catch Them All,” the light and airy “Cherry Tulips,” the solemn “January,” and the driving, string-touched “Market Girl” are evidence of an album that is more focused, and, in a sense, more simplistic than any of the band’s past work.
“It can really exhaust your ear if there’s a huge amount of stuff happening all the time, and that’s one of the things that we learned on Kill Them With Kindness,” says Wraight. “We really love that record and we’re really proud of it, but we also feel a little bit worn out after we listen to it because there’s always so much going on. We just wanted a few opportunities for people who are listening to the record to have a break and have a little bit of small space and a little bit of small sounds happening.”
This album is very much the singular vision of its three principal members who, by affording themselves the freedom to work in their own space, have created a work that distills the best parts of their songwriting into a concise, cohesive whole. Perhaps because of this, Some Racing, Some Stopping sounds like a breakout work for Wraight, Fein, and Sanderson. It is one where their true songwriting prowess is on full display. No distractions. No outside influence. Just three musicians, exploring their vision. And it all came together in that old two-story farmhouse. -Frank Valish
Headlights – Some Racing, Some Stopping track list:
1.Get Your Head Around It
3.On April 2
5.Some Racing, Some Stopping
6.So Much For The Afternoon
7.Catch Them All
December Tour Date:
12/31 Champaign , IL @ Cowboy Monkey w/ The Beauty Shop, Shipwreck, Common Loon