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"A rainy, shabby-looking alley."

Listening to Lylas is kind of like ducking into a rainy, shabby-looking alley and discovering a garden full of color. - Nashville CIty Paper

"Sophisticated is the new loud"

"Sophisticated is the new loud. Like their predecessors The Kinks and The Zombies, Lylas abandon riffing in favor of refined, cleverly arranged songs on their 2003 mini-LP …Makes a Friend. The Nashville-based band, which includes pedal steel, theremin, piano and cello, build simple arrangements for the macabre, chamber pop originals of singer-guitarist Kyle Hamlett, whose delicate melodies and thematic lyrics suggest the soundtrack to a musical written by Ray Davies and Morrissey. A dark narrative replete with Siamese twins, summer sweaters and no shortage of death ties the songs together." - Nashville Scene

"Review of debut EP"

"It is both deceptively simple and perplexingly difficult to describe Lylas' music. The elements are nothing new: gentle, deftly finger-picked acoustic guitar and banjo, brushed drums, quirky production… but like all great music, Lylas' work has an uncanny ability to build on influences while transcending them, coalescing in a unified whole and concealing all semblance of contrivance." - Nashville Rage

"Somewhere close..."

Lylas blends the reflective, folky feel of some of the songs off the Beatles’ White Album with a hearty dose of modern edge, and the result comes off somewhere close to wind rustling through autumn leaves. - Nashville City Paper


Lylas' music weds the baroque intricacy and character studies of golden-era Kinks with the post art school fey foppishness of bands like Belle & Sebastian. Instrumentation includes everything from acoustic and steel guitars to glockenspiel, cello, keyboards and accordion, casting singer/guitarist Kyle Hamlett's adept wordplay in a half-light that provides an appropriate foil for his wry musings. The key to Lylas' sound is ambiguity. Much like Leonard Cohen or lambchop's Kurt Wagner, Hamlett and his flock have a knack for framing tragedy in the loveliest of window trimmings. In a black-and-white world Lylas is the cross-hatch of grey peering from the shadows, shining light on our befuddled expectations. - Ryan Noris - freelance music writer

"cockeyed for a pop album"

While everyone has been thinking of the “Nashville sound” as a countrified one for many decades now, some forward thinkers recently have been reinventing it. Lylas is one such band. Sure there’s whispers of roots rock down in there deep, enveloping somewhere lightly in between the chamber pop and crisp indie folk patterns that comprises “Lessons for Lovers”, but this is quite a journey from the traditional sounds associated to the south of the Mason-Dixon Line. The vast array of instruments that were used to compose the album read like an eclectic storyboard: theremin, glockenspiel, accordion, pedal steel guitar, piano, and cello, along with the traditional band implements. It’s a bit cockeyed for a pop album but damn if it isn’t downright neat and something that would make Conor O’berst an instant junkie -


On their first full-length album (or their first disc to run over 20 minutes, anyway), Lylas serve as a platform for lead singer/acoustic guitarist/lyricist Kyle Hamlett on a series of short songs (only one running over three minutes). The band works up engaging folk-pop arrangements, and Hamlett, positioning himself close to the microphone, sings in a light, unruffled voice that bears more than a slight resemblance to Ray Davies. Indeed, this is music imbued with the sound of 1966-1967 London made by a group of Nashville residents who have more than a passing familiarity with the Kinks' Face to Face and the Rolling Stones' Between the Buttons. Occasionally, as on "His Master's Merriment," for example, it take a minute or two to be certain one isn't listening to some long-lost Kinks outtake rather than a new band from Tennessee. Of course, the major difference is that Hamlett and company are not nearly as interested in conventional songcraft as the Kinks were; rarely do they deign to do anything as mundane as coming up with a hook or even a true chorus. And while Hamlett's delivery is off-hand, an examination of the small-print lyrics that fill three panels of the CD booklet reveals a rather ambiguous, if poetically reflective worldview. The effect is reminiscent of the British stars the Beautiful South (like the Face to Face-era Kinks, an act that couldn't get arrested in the U.S.), whose pretty music is belied by their caustic lyrics. -

" band of the day"

On the spectrum of wimpy indie rock frontmen there's twee and then there's Kyle Hamlett, lead singer for Nashville's Lylas. Hamlett writes fragile, melodic pop songs and sings them in a voice that's just decibels above a whisper. And while he's probably the only guy that Conor Oberst could beat at arm wrestling, Hamlett would be a formidable challenger in any songwriting contest. The songs on Lylas' debut Lessons for Lovers (out this week) are melodic and well-crafted, built around warm harmonies and clever chord changes.
Lessons has the distinct feel of a concept record, but you'll probably have trouble picking out the theme from the lyrics (it's either Siamese twins or sweaters). This is mostly beside the point though, as the 16 tracks all feel as though they belong together. Credit Lylas' inventive arrangements: Songs begin on acoustic guitar, then swell into pocket symphonies, typically before the first chorus. The band augments the traditional rock'n'roll hardware with banjos, pedal steel, theremin, and glockenspiel, making their best moments sound like Brian Wilson on an austerity budget.

"Whispery Chamber Folk Makes Gentle Waves"

Gentle, caressing, sparsely instrumented and ever so slightly country inflected, the songs on this Nashville chamber folk ensemble’s first full length fizz with quietly expressed enthusiasm. Songwriter Kyle Hamlett consistently underplays a loaded hand, tossing off gorgeous melodies and literate verses with a studied nonchalance. His band—brother Josh Hamlett on bass, Luke Schneider on pedal steel and Brice Blair on drums—does the same, placing notes with care but never overdoing it. There’s a lattice-work sense of space in all the songs, a half-buried quiet that makes their loveliness seem more fleeting. Even the relatively quick and upbeat “Tones and Echos” with its tap-dancing percussion and gorgeous harmonies, is airy and light and speckled with silence.
Hamlett’s voice resembles Joe Pernice circa Chappaquidick Skyline, the same high-ish timbre, the same light slide across intervals, the same engaging huskiness in the crevices. That’s a reasonable comparison, too, since Hamlett’s songs have a melancholy directness that you’ll find in Pernice’s more downbeat songs; it’s as if he’s just talking to you about life and love, and somehow, it rhymes and scans and fits the notes. “Home and Hugs”, for instance, starts with Hamlett singing, “I need home… /I need hugs...” in a purely conversational tone, aching and honest.
The album is structured around brief three instrumental lessons in love. The first, just 24 seconds long, is called “Lesson 1: Saying I Love You”. About halfway through the album, there is another, just pizzicato string plucks, just 28 seconds, called “Lesson 11: When a Lovely, Young Dish Unravels,” while near the end, an interval of strings and winds is the wistful conclusion, “Lesson 28: Last Kiss Rehearsal”. These cuts focus the discussion squarely on matters of the heart, the central theme of the album.
The songs are all about love, but from vastly different perspectives and in slightly different styles. “His Master’s Merriment”, darker and more muscular than the other cuts, slips in disturbing lyrics about abandonment and spills on magazine photos. The title cut has a son talking to his mother just before his wedding, deeply conflicted about the whole topic of love. “I’m so nervous/ I want to lock myself and bury/ Me deep inside/ No more giving me away,” he sings, against a flutter of airy folk guitar, instrumental prettiness battling anxious lyrics. There’s a sweetness in the singing that is not necessarily reflected in the songs themselves, and that gives Lylas an interesting edge.
If you’re a tweener girl, you might recognize Lylas as an acronym for “love you like a sister”. It’s an innocent, girlish sort of sentiment, uncomplicated and full of promise. Lessons for Lovers sounds just as fresh and lovely on the surface, but harboring adult contradictions underneath.


Describing their music as “[a] Faulkneresque/Dickensonian take on the South” may come off a bit pretentious is most circles, but I have to say, a little pretension never hurt anybody. If you’ve got the ilk, I say you can be as pretentious as you’d like. Lylas, heralding from the history-brimming streets of the ever-evolving Nashville, Tennessee, brings a welcome abstraction to their special little brand of pop music. I’ve heard their style described as “baroque,” and I would fully have to agree. There’s just something about the oration of the word and definition that somehow fully embodies what is to be found here.
Through the entire journey that is Lessons For Lovers, it always seems to be right there on the verge of just giving in, and becoming another muddled, obscure concept album; but it’s woven together with such tight craftsmanship that it never quite takes the dive. Don’t be fooled by the 14 song track listing, as most of the pieces here hover closely around the two-minute mark or so. It works nicely, as the songs all the way thought stay tight and concise, never rambling on in needlessness.
With an instrumentation list that consist of piano, cello, pedal steel, accordion, banjo, and glockenspiel; you’ve got to be on the open-minded-side coming into this record. The sound is meek, with this intangible level of dark subtlety somewhere underneath. You never can grasp it, but you know with all your might that it’s there. Not a song here ever stumbles into the obscure or hard-to-listen to side of things, though; each one a tiny little pop masterpiece.
Listening through the record, it’s as if the underlying joviality of the songs found here are somehow undercut by an unnerving wave of melancholy. The structure and vibe of Lylas is reminiscent of Connor Oberst’s alter-ego Bright Eyes, as well as bringing back fond (albeit more pessimistic) memories of Seth Swirsky’s solo debut album Instant Pleasure. It’s a lot like Instant Pleasure, actually; just without all of the polish. The songs are clean, but somehow dirty. The entire record is accented by this deep sense of foreboding. It keeps you coming back, for more and more, until the album climaxes with the closing uplift of the beautiful “Years and Years.”
It’s hard to point out a certain track as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in Lessons For Lovers. You must either take it as a whole, or not even listen to it at all. It’s not a concept, so much as a feeling. You have to dive headfirst into this record, and feel it with every fiber of your being. It isn’t really made for just a casual listen. This is one of those albums that you must truly be in the mood to listen to. It’s like you know you must lock the door, unplug the phone, turn off the TV, and dim the lights just to give it the proper atmosphere. Once there, all that’s left to do is just turn up the stereo, and soak it in until finally fades away.


...Makes a Friend EP on Cleft Music
You know...lylas 7" on Fictitious Records
What is undead, anyway? 7" Fictitious Records
Lessons for Lovers (2006) Fictitious Records/Cleft Music
Do You Believe in Blood? (2009)12"



The songs of shapeshifting folk ensemble lylas are sparkling bits of unusual pop. Like a coffin shaped candy bin, lylas populates its world with bloody nightgowns, suburban dissatisfaction, friendly demons, and pre-teen princesses with a penchant for the macabre. Here, silent ghosts of Flannery O'connor and Jeffrey Eugenides watch you accidentally ride your bike into a neighborhood that at first seems a little too shiny - until one of its peculiar populace takes you by the hand and shows you around. Too much candy isn't good for you; lylas knowingly weaves dark strings and unusual instrumentation in and out of its seemingly innocent songs so that even if you don't catch the lyrics at first, the listener has a hint that something sinister is afoot. lylas is not for everyone. There is no outright political or social rage here, no condemnation. But rather the creation of a self-enclosed world. Understanding that is essential to understanding this music. Like a beautiful nightmare - it's the lovely she-vampire, the enticing succubus... you have to be willing to step into the lylas kingdom. It won't shout at you, but like a vampire it will love you to death.