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The Aislers Set "How I Learned To Write Backwards" CD $18 (L&L013) Add To Basket.


A breathtaking journey through the Aislers Set's intriguing musical neighbourhood, in which the interweaving streets and pathways offer a present-day glimpse of such revered notables as Phil Spector and Dan Treacy. This San-Franciscan posse of proud musical revisionists have taken their classic sounds and delivered a bold statement of where they are heading. From the colourful girl-group chime of opener "Catherine Says", to the brash punk energy of "The Train #2", to the sparse aching minimalism as evidenced on "Unfinished Paintings", there is a rare quality of songwriting on display here, humbly delivered and wrapped up in soul, all strung together by Amy Linton's off-the-cuff, ice-cool vocals.

1) Catherine Says
2) Emotional Levy
3) Languor in the Balcony
4) Mission Bells
5) Sara's Song
6) Attraction Action Reaction
7) Through the Swells
8) The Train #1
9) The Train #2
10) Unfinished Paintings
11) Melody Not Malaise

"What Phil Spector's nightmares sound like
Imagine 60s girl group The Ronettes playing guitars in a deserted school hall at midnight. They're cranking out barbiturate-clouded fuzz as a Motown beat keeps metronomic pace, their beehives nodding in silhouetted syncopation. This is how The Aislers Set sound. Mating the faded spectre of Spector with the nihilism of grrrl punk and a spot of Lynchian disorientation sounds a bad idea on paper, but, in the case of album two from Amy Linton's tragic romantics, it makes imperfect sense. Sleighbells, Cuban trumpets, half-inched Smiths lyrics and chasms of lovely echo all add to an insomnia-like reverie that clings on long after its mere half-hour is up. 7 out of 10." Mike Carhart-Harris, NME

The San Franciscan indie five-piece backs up 2000’s The Last Match with another set of pop gems, this time with more variety and stronger songwriting.
There’s the Phil Spector-style ‘Catherine Says’ and ‘Emotional Levy’. Then How I Learned… jumps from punky pop (‘Languor In The Balcony’) to what could pass as surf (‘Mission Bells’) to slow, sparse piano (‘Sara’s Song’) to jangly guitar pop (‘Attraction Action Reaction’). After that there’s catchy guitar/piano pop (‘Through The Swells’), the rough’n’ready ‘The Train’, virtually a cappella ‘Unfinished Paintings’ and brass-touched closer ‘Melody Not Malaise’.
Amy Linton’s impossibly high vocals are still a big part of this band’s signature sound, but their third album finds them developing in other ways.

Eileen Dick"
Time Off Magazine (Brisbane)

How to enjoy How I learned to write backwards (and acquire a stiff, dignified BUZZ simultaneously!). First obtain a crisp, fifty-dollar note. How you do this is strictly up to you. Next pop over to the local bottle-o for a cheap bottle of gin, a couple of limes and a bottle of tonic water. Oh wait, before you do this, make sure the ice cube tray's filled. Get the necessary components brown bagged, than drop into your local independent music outlet. Locate section A. Hand the amiable shop clerk cash for a copy of the Aislers Set's new album. Hustle home! Once home, wait patiently for nightfall (this album, unlike the sunshine melodies of 2000's Last Match, is very much a night record). Keeping with that, the presence of a red sky or an ascending moon will add considerable merit to your listening experience. Catherine Says, the opener, blows a wet kiss to Lou Reed and makes reference to subway trains. It's a New York song about losing faith. By the second song you should be on your fourth drink. That one's called Emotional Levy. Here Amy gets all jazzy, throaty and soulful, rendering Lauren Hill hopelessly inadequate. Enjoy how the dirty bassline and intoxicating kick drum accentuates your blissful inertia. Languor in the balcony takes visionary 60s pop and puts a nice layer of fuzz guitar over it. It also says the gin gently flows, speaking of which you probably need a refill. While you're up, feel free to access a dictionary because, if you haven't noticed, Amy uses big words like atavistic, and makes them sound as beautiful as bird songs. Mission Belles reaches a number of climaxes, one features a guitar, another horns, and the last one, a breathtaking organ and harmony crescendo easily touches the sky. Next is a song for Sara called Sara's song. Admire the elegantly strangled surf guitar. Track seven is lovable, here Amy hits a party and is forced to carve Through the Swells of perverts and shy mission belles so she can sing and dance with the band. You love it! Tambourines, handclaps, bells, and a special affinity for the kick drum remind us that this is a party album for people with sophisticated moods and dark clothing. Pay extra attention to the amazing closer, Melody or Malaise. It's a vague, anti-war number about a girl who sings lullabies to help a child ward off bad dreams. Let the song fade and sink into your sofa like a mirage. Then go bathe yourself you smell like a drunk pig.

Shane Moritz"
Beat (Melbourne) March 26 2003

As indie-pop gets willfully trickier, San Franciscans The Aislers Set do well in going with the flow and not the flock. Neither simply served straight up nor merely quirky, Amy Linton's tunes hold an uncanny grace; the wistful wiggle of 60s girl groups filtered through a smoky lounge-noir, where mood swings emerge through Mariachi brass sections and flitting organ washes. If Linton did indeed learn to write backwards with these songs, she's come out the other end with a cool play on reinventing one of indie-pop's golden qualities - the vibe of the thing.

Andrew Khedoori"
Juice Magazine

"by Rachel Leibrock, Bee staff writer

The third full-length album by San Francisco indie rock supergroup The Aislers Set (featuring members of Henry's Dress, Poundsign and Track Star) shimmers with a '60s pop sensibility, like its predecessor, 2000's "The Last Match." Recorded in singer-songwriter Amy Linton's garage, the songs here are richly layered sonic wonders - dense yet crisp, complex yet unaffected. The album begins with a handful of sweetly melancholy yet catchy gems such as "Catherine Says" and "Langour in the Balcony" but slowly evolves into more experimental sounds. The album's first single, "Mission Bells," is a gorgeous California lament, drenched in sunshine and horns. "Through the Swells" melds mariachi and pastel-hued fuzz pop to a delightful effect. "The Train #1," a jazzy lounge number that evokes the retro-esque sounds of a spy film theme, is accompanied by the noisy, newfangled sprawl of "The Train #2." The true treasure throughout this disc, however, is Linton's voice - chilly yet alluring, composed yet emotive, its beauty is sparkling and pure. " Sacramento Bee

"Reviewed by: Cam Lindsay

The man responsible for The Aislers Set has been arrested for murdering a B-movie star. This has nothing to do with their new and third album, but there's no denying the fact that if it weren't for Phil Spector, The Aislers Set might sound like Tatu, Dixie Chicks or even worse, The Cheeky Girls. Actually, that's a load of rubbish, but they sure did take notes while listening to acts like The Ronettes and The Crystals, and their wonderful production has always been as on the mark as it was 30 plus years ago when Spector was creating it.
How I Learned To Write Backwards isn't as good as 2000's The Last Match, yet it isn't far behind. It's another fine batch of eloquent, classic sounding pop songs, with a little bit of mustard added to it as well. After touring with such acts as Belle & Sebastian and Black Dice (talk about polar opposites) last year, The Aislers Set have found themselves in a different place. There seems to be a lot more mixed into the band's songwriting formula this time around, exploring more of the band's influences and shaking up the foundations. "Was Either Easier" begins like a tame E.S.G.
track - very echoed drums, a slight groove in the bassline and a distant cow bell. By the time it's done, it sounds like a hit of the Supremes, but the transformation is done seamlessly. "The Train #2" seems to go back to the old days of Henry's Dress, using spiky overdrive and an attitude that screams Kleenex, yet in the sweetest way possible. It's the loudest they've been to date, and a welcome addition to their oeuvre.
Some other slight changes aren't as easy to adjust to. Amy Linton's angelic voice still sounds as sweet as ever, but a crumb of sinister darkness has been added. Okay, the words "sinister" and "darkness" in the world of The Aislers Set may be more like getting a yellow lollipop instead of a red one, there are some very gleeful moments captured on record. But it's not as if Linton has always written about sunshine and bunny rabbits, in fact as soon as "Sara's Song" begins, it shows that the band can be most melancholic if they want. The same with "Unfinished Paintings". Wyatt Cusick's voice, which brought a lovely contrast to their sound on previous records, is strangely absent. Yes, he sounded exactly like Stuart from Belle & Sebastian when he sang his touching acoustic numbers, but it was always fun to anticipate when he would be mixed into the batch with Linton's songs.
How I Learned To Write Backwards is a record that gets better the more you listen to it. Though there may be some adjustments needed to be made by the listener, it shouldn't take too long if you're a true fan. And now, since starting this review, it might be on par with The Last Match, maybe even better. You should probably try and judge that for yourself, I could spend days making such a decision. " Stylus Magazine

"OK, I was devastated when Amy Linton's previous group Henry's Dress disbanded back in '97. I thought they just couldn't be topped. The first Aislers Set album, "Terrible Things Happen" showed promise, and the second LP, "The Last Match," was great. I didn't think they could keep improving. But with the release of their third album "How I Learned to Write Backwards", they've proven that they are one of the most vital pop bands around today. The eleven songs contained on the CD range from '60s baroque-styled pop to c86 and back to buzzsaw punk -- all recorded in Amy's garage by the group -- which is one of the CD's strong points. Its Phil Spector-esque "Wall of Sound" reverbed-out recording quality might be a little lo-fi by today's pro-tools standards, but it makes the songs shine in all the right places, focusing on songwriting and smart arrangements rather than studio gimmickry. Given a chance, this album will slowly sinks its hooks into your mind and you'll be humming its songs all day. Recommended for fans of Henry's Dress, the June Brides, the Left Banke, Buzzcocks, Unrest, the Ronettes, etc. [RS]" Other Music (NYC)

"Hurrah! The much anticipated third album from our favorite world-weary pop angels has arrived! Very '60s Brill Building girl group style production but with less naive, sugarcoated lyrical sentiments. Sooooo sssplendid! Beautifully recorded, with layer upon layer of beautiful melodies and instrumentation. This band really does just get better and better. Their recordings have the hugeness and details reminiscent of Phil Spector or Joe Meek. And the use of reverb is flawless. The soft echoey lovely vocals just melt my heart and the songs are so individually rad that they stand on their own and apart from each other. This record is softer and sadder in some ways, perhaps their darkest work to date. Less poppy or optimistic than previous songs I've heard. I really can't take it off my stereo at home. Absolutely, totally and completely recommended!!!" Aquarius Records (San Franscisco)