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Headlights Flash Their High Beams

By Scott Smith in Arts & Entertainment on Nov 20, 2006 5:30PM

If there is any justice, Polyvinyl Records will soon remake the musical heritage of Champaign, IL, in its own image, making the town known less for ridin’ the storm out and more for smooth, pop confections that are heavy on harmony and keyboards (Parasol Records is already fighting the good fight in Urbana, with guitars firmly in hand.)

2006_11_headlights.jpgHeadlights is the latest band to lend its support to the cause. After an EP of some acclaim and a split 7-inch, the band released Kill Them With Kindness, its first full-length, this summer. The first half of the record is laden with sweeping orchestral pop (“Put Us Back Together,” “Pity City”) guided by the lilting tones and wistful lyrics of Erin Fein. The second half is a mostly harder, fuzzed-out take on the same sound, with guitarist Tristan Wright and drummer Brett Sanderson mashing up ’70s AM radio (“Lions,” “Lullabies”) with feedback-infused shoegazer style. In an album full of gems, the standout track here is “Hi-Ya,” a song that’s made it onto several of our playlists this fall.

Headlights performs tonight at Empty Bottle in a free showcase, courtesy of bands in the Nicodemus Agency stable. There’s an extra curiosity thrown in with this show as Skeletons and the Girl-Faced Boys are one of the openers. Matt Mehlman of Skeletons wrote several songs with rock poet Thax Douglas during his recent sojourn to the wilds of Brooklyn. We expect to see Thax at the Bottle after he headlines (!!!) an all-ages show for $6 at Beat Kitchen at 6:00 p.m. Start taking bets now as to whether the sound guy plays the theme from Welcome Back, Kotter before he goes on.