The Billions are one of the quirkiest, most amazing bands I've ever heard -- and I've heard a lot of bands. Ever since the release of Quiet As It's Kept, few have equaled in their greatness; as for their style, no one comes to mind. It's hard to liken to a Billions style when you're not really sure what the style is in the first place. But anyway, now they are back, and finally on a record label. Not just any label, I might add; Northern Records, officially the greatest record company in all the land, to me. With Never Felt This Way Before, they continue in their usual glories and keep the musical world guessing.
Many bands try to run from their musical influences. "We don't sound like anyone, we're very unique." "Phhhsha," I say. In actuality, every group has some type of something from some act before them and if The Billions are trying to hide their own predecessors, they're doing a horrible job of it. "I Won't Turn Away" comes first with a little Simon and Garfunkel while "Hey Girl" becomes a rockier version of The Strokes. "My Life" reminisces of young Vagrant Records act The Anniversary, as "Never Felt This Way Before" is something Tom Petty would be putting out if he was still making hits while "Everybody's Waiting" is a wilder Neil Young, musically.
"Asya" begins with a James Taylor guitar work but bleeds into a thick orchestra with some Beach Boy harmony thrown in whereas "Another Lonely Day" is Bob Dylan, almost. "Cure The Sea" would be the beautiful offspring of David Bowie and David Byrne of The Talking Heads if they joined forces, go figure. If you totally missed the point on prior tracks, and uncertainty befuddles you, "The Reason We Sing" throws everything out on the table about their stance on Spirituality and their apparent love of The Cars, drum machines, and calypso music as "Into The Light" ends this work of art with a stripped down acoustic guitar; no flash, just astonishment and praise. One influence that cannot go unnamed in this musical name-dropping would be The Flaming Lips. The great Lips are apparently the only act somewhat comparable to The Billions sound, but that is a stretch, indeed.
Once again, I am in awe. The Billions never cease to take me to a place wherever my parent's used to go in the 70's, but with a refurbished sound that a younger generation would swear is a lot cooler than wherever their parent's music used to take them. Quiet As It's Kept is behind it's time and ahead of it's time all in the same breathe and will surely always pass as a masterpiece. It's tough to watch such talent hover under the radar but as they say, you don't know what you got till it's gone. But stay a little longer with us, The Billions, and continue to make and repeat history, because we all should be willing to learn, if you're the ones teaching.
Oh, and Wes Anderson (director of the films Royal Tennenbaums, Rushmore, and Bottle Rocket), if you read this (who am I kidding), do yourself a favor and quit perusing through endless amounts of music for your next film. Just use a Billions record.- Review date: 1/10/03, written by Blake Garris
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