Dave Segal already posted a fine preview of Hazed Dream. Unlike Segal, however, I had never heard of the band until their publicist sent a press release, which included an mp3 of "Mind Daze." That did the trick, and I had to hear more.
Sun-blasted washes of guitar, organ drones, loping rhythms, hints of harmonica, and whispered words that drift in and out of view: it's the sonic equivalent of a tapestry left in the desert to fade, to bleed, to take on new colors and textures.
Unless you're predisposed to the inner-space ramblings of Loop and Wooden Shjips, however, the Ills make themselves an easy target with song titles like "Incense Head," "Sungaze," and "Dream Repetition." Dope smokers, acid casualties, people who live in the past? Hazed Dream makes few concessions to the present. Clearly, those epithets mean nothing to these intrepid New Yorkers.
Singer Tres Warren even talks the hippie talk, much like Brightblack Morning Light's Nathan Shineywater. About the Ills' successor to 2009's Mirror Eye, he states, "It was about putting some words to some chords and keeping it simple. Getting back to something. Feeling a feeling. Shaking out the NY brain boil. Movin' away from some old bad vibes, by creating some new good ones."
You'd think the band, which includes bassist Elizabeth Hart and drummer Brian Tamborello, put this thing together in the Southwest (rather than Brooklyn).
It's not that they sound like Giant Sand or Calexico. They don't. But that they capture the same sort of windswept, widescreen atmosphere. As Warren adds, "This album lives in a sunny place. A half memory. A hazed dream." Exactly.