"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 2000s
The Last Match with another set of pop gems, this time with more variety
and stronger songwriting.
Theres 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 (Saras Song) to jangly guitar
pop (Attraction Action Reaction). After that theres
catchy guitar/piano pop (Through The Swells), the roughnready
The Train, virtually a cappella Unfinished Paintings
and brass-touched closer Melody Not Malaise.
Amy Lintons impossibly high vocals are still a big part of this
bands signature sound, but their third album finds them developing
in other ways.
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
Rachel Leibrock, Bee staff writer
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
" Sacramento Bee
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.
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)
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)