Remembering to be a kid is a huge part of rock. The Who made an anthem out of it. Kurt Cobain had a ‘k’ tattooed on his arm. Kids know what’s up, largely because they don’t know what ‘up’ is yet. Tilly and the Wall’s guitarist Derek Presnall elaborates, “People tend to focus on the cheery aspects of children. But there’s also a real beautiful, sad, dark quality to kids, too. Not like a depressing, crying aspect, but a deep purple one. Because things aren’t as layered, they really understand more than adults do.”

Omaha’s T&TW, just about to release their third album, take pint-sized sentiments to the next level. Their band name was lifted from the title of a kid’s book. The title of their debut is even We Like Children. And later this summer, you can hear the 5-piece jam the indie-ABCs on Sesame Street. Presnall chimes back in: “We’re trying to remind ourselves as people to never forget or lose sight of what’s real.”

As for the tunes, anybody who’s dived in to the sugar-punk harmonies and heel-stomp percussion (see Jamie Williams, band’s resident tap dancer) knows that said scope on reality has only to deal with kids in spirit. Wild Like Children screams tales of disillusionment and unrequited loves, slathered in f-bombs and heartache. Likewise with follow-up Bottoms Of Barrels, “Rainbow In The Dark” could be a Bright Eyes tune, save for the female overdubs, all dressed in horns and angst, and not because they’re good buddies with Conor Oberst. Or on the dude’s label (Team Love). Rather, it’s because they know how to write good pop songs, in that sweet melody, sour soul way.

Album number three sticks to the formula, the only difference being texture. Whereas previous albums had less knobs being twiddled, their latest untitled effort is punctuated with production guru Mike Mogis. Williams’ tap fills come thundering over actual drum parts, and there’s oodles of guitar effects and bursts of keys. “Pot Kettle Black” has angular Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitars and bitchy snarl. “Blood Flowers” takes New Pornographers shape, riddled with jangly vocals, bells and tambourine shakes. Fans of the unadorned yore will appreciate acoustic opener, “Tall, Tall Grass,” a tune the band has been repeatedly working on since the band’s first EP, but couldn’t quite nail. Presnall shares, “It finally came alive. I have a personal connection to that song. It’s like the story of our band. But it’s also a love song to music. And a love song to friendship. And a love song to a lover. So I feel like it tells the story of our band, emotionally and lyrically.” Kind of exactly why they idolize the little ones in the first place.

www.tillyandthewall.com

—Gavin Paul, photos by Tear-n Tan

 
  1. Their debut was “Wild Like Children” not “We Like Children” – honest mistake, nice article.

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  2. Not to mention they’re pretty much the nicest people ever! I couldn’t find it anywhere on their website about Jamie (tap dancer… Yeah, I know a tap dancer! Amazing!) and Derek (guitarist) being married. I know it’s lame, but I’m pretty sure I’d subscribe to your magazine if you did an article regarding this. ::HINT:: :)

    I know this is an odd request, but my fiance and I talked to them before one of their shows about their wedding and I haven’t found anything about this. Feel free to email me regarding this. Thanks!

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  3. You’re right — they all are the nicest people ever. FYI, Jamie & Derek got married in August 2006 in Omaha, and their friends in the band Of Montreal played at their wedding.

    Nice review of the new CD, “O.” I agree with the review, and think it’s their best CD yet.

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