Mile High Feedback 7.18.18 Denver Show Review
True passion was on full display on Sunday night at Lion’s Lair.
Carry Illinois, from Austin, TX, delivered their impassioned Indie-Pop sounds to the Denver locals. Led by lead singer, Lizzy Lehman, who also played rhythm guitar, Carry Illinois played all the songs from their recent release, Work In Progress among a few other previously released tunes. Lehman bares her soul on every song, singing of real life. Carry Illinois filled the venue with authentic emotion. In a quick visit after their set, Lehman explained that the band name Carry Illinois helps her keep her roots, as her first singing performance happened in Cary, Illinois.
Drummer Rudy Villarreal revealed that the band’s stress of gearing up for the tour disappeared the minute they hit the road. The band seemed relaxed and comfortable on the stage. Villarreal also mentioned how friendly and receptive Denver has been to them, as this was their second time coming through town. The band was excited and grateful to be sharing their story and music, meeting new fans, and seeing old friends that have moved to Denver from Austin. Also supporting on stage were Darwin Smith on guitar, Benjamin Rowe Violet on key, and Jennifer Monsees on bass.
PlaylistPlay-Conversations: Carry Illinois
Carry Illinois is an LGBTQ force of power in the Austin, Texas music scene. Creating what many would call “indie rock”, Carry Illinois hint at elements of folk, blues, and pop in their emotional songwriting. Tackling larger issues at hand, while remaining elegantly poetic, Carry Illinois is as accessible as they are relevant. The crew just launched a tour, and have several dates remaining. We caught up with them on the road for a light-hearted discussion.
I’m sure you haven’t been asked this yet, but what’s the meaning behind the band name “Carry Illinois”?
Cary, IL was the first place I remember singing in front of anyone in public. It was at my family’s former company’s picnic. I sang karaoke—Bette Midler’s “Wind Beneath My Wings.” It was the first time I realized I was passionate about singing, so to keep that important memory, I named it double-r Carry Illinois to keep myself connected to my roots and home state no matter where I go.
What excites you most about tour?
Meeting new people really fuels our love for performing. Playing for strangers makes us really excited about sharing our music. Watching the landscape change from state-to-state allows so much room for a mental reset!
If Carry Illinois is sculpting a Mt. Rushmore of musicians, whose four faces are on it?
Carole King, Grace Slick, George Harrison, and Rainer Rilke. These are my heroes through and through!
Pretend you work in a record store and someone comes in asking for recommendations. what would someone have to ask for that results in you picking up a Carry Illinois for them?
Brandi Carlile for raw emotion. Carole King for honest, vulnerable song-writing. Sylvan Esso for dancing your feelings out. Wye Oak for their dynamic soundscapes, and Phoebe Bridgers if you need a good cry!
Describe your perfect show.
Low moody lighting in a beautiful park in the Pacific Northwest. My closest friends are playing, as well as my biggest inspirations. There’s amazing food out for everyone. The air is fresh and clean. The vibe is fun and relaxed, and love is in the air!
Building on that, pretend you’re curating a music festival. Who’s on it? Where is it?
Lizzo, Plants and Animals, Perfume Genius, Sylvan Esso, Brandi Carlile, Laura Mvula, and Lucius. The festival would be in the gorgeous countryside in Umbria, Italy. Why not bring beautiful music and breathtaking views together?!
If Carry Illinois were a cartoon character, who would it be and why?
Carry Illinois would be the baby alligator from Maurice Sendak’s “Alligators All Around.” The baby alligator has many moods, enjoys a big plate of macaroni, finds comfort in the little things in life, and gets a bit OCD at times and needs a big hug.
Hear Queer Q & A with Carry Illinois
Carry Illinois are finding new faces and beautiful places on their third tour in the US. At the heart of the band is Lizzy Lehman, who finds healing and catharsis in sharing her lyrics with new audiences and old friends in each city she encounters. Lehman shared some thoughts about touring and songwriting with us ahead of Carry Illinois’ summer tour.
This is the third run you’ve had on tour with this band. What’s the experience of touring like?
A whirlwind, a lot of driving. Meeting new people, and making new friends, and also getting to see old friends. A lot of fun getting to meet new musicians and bands. It’s tiring, but it’s fun.
How has your experience of touring changed over time?
The flow of each day makes a little more sense, and just the logistics of unpacking and packing back up has become easier. Knowing how to go through each day and get to where we need to go. That becomes easier, I suppose. The flow of tour becomes easier. There’s still hiccups along the way, taking the wrong road and wrong directions, any sort of small miscommunications. In general, I think what changed most was preparedness for tour, knowing how to get everything set up with shows and communicate with bookers.
Piece of advice for someone who’s never toured before?
Definitely have the details worked out ahead of time. Make sure you know when load in is, and soundcheck and everything. Make sure that you’ve got transportation all lined up beforehand. Don’t do it last minute, because it can be hard to find a tour vehicle. Expect the unexpected and be prepared to be flexible.
What’s something you thoroughly enjoy about being on the road?
Getting to know my bandmates much better, and having a much better bond with each of them, getting to know them more on a personal level. Just getting to meet new people, new fans, new bands. Just like making new friends and getting to make long lasting friendships with. Getting to experience new cities and experience cities I’ve been to before in a much different way through music. Getting to look out the window and watch the landscape change, that’s one of my favorite things. It gives you a lot of time to think.
What do you least look forward to about starting a run of shows?
Being away from home for an extended period of time, being away from my wife and my friends. Also just the really long haul stretches are not the best, when we have to be in the car for 7 or 8 hours. Maybe just like the unpredictability of food. Trying to maintain some sort of healthy meal plan is definitely a really hard thing while you’re on tour. You definitely have to sacrifice, but depending on who you’re touring with. We try to make sure we get some good stuff in our bodies. That’s important for everybody in the band.
Where’s the most beautiful or interesting place you’ve seen while on tour?
The last tour was west coast. It’s got to be a tie between Portland and San Francisco. The Pacific Northwest and Northern California are definitely my two favorite places. The two most beautiful places.
Runaway expresses a lot of discomfort with the act of occupying your body. Why did you want to write a song addressing that feeling?
I’ve always had a difficult time living in my own skin, and I’ve always had a sort of negative relationship with my body, and with body image. I feel like one of the only ways to start to heal that and move toward self love was to be honest with how I do feel about it before I can learn to take the path toward self love. I also know that a lot of people deal with the same exact issues and it’s something that without a doubt many people can connect to and hopefully by listening to the song, they can identify and connect with me and the song and have the ability to work towards self love for themselves. I wrote the song because it’s something I’ve dealt with my whole life and I’ve never really totally processed it, and I thought this would be a good way to begin and process, and in addition to therapy. Hopefully there are people to connect with and it’s a pretty universal idea. Hopefully it helps people think about how they feel about themselves and how they can reframe their thinking towards a more positive outlook, and embracing the fact that difference is good, and that it’s okay to be imperfect.
How has identity shaped/influenced your music?
The songs themselves are not necessarily about being gay, it’s just about being who I am. I would say more than ever, I’ve just been really inspired to let people know who I am. Especially because there’s been so much homophobia lately and racism and marginalizing of anybody whose different and doesn’t fit he norm. That’s why being proud and out publicly has been really important to me. Just to show that I am absolutely okay with who I am and I’m proud of who I am. One of the songs on the album is about my relationship with my wife, and I think the fact that I’ve decided to be open about my sexuality, it’s been easier to write about my relationship with my wife. It has informed my writing lately and made me able to be more honest about my personal and intimate life.
A lot of your lyrics and music are very inward and personal. What’s it like to take that music and play it for people you’ve never met in cities you’ve never been to?
It feels really cathartic, almost like therapy in a way. It feels like I’m being my most honest self, that I’m not hiding anymore. It also feels like I’m being a real person. Being real about the struggles that I’ve gone through and still go through, whether it’s body image or a continuing conversation around my mental health. It’s just been kind of liberating to sing about the real issues that i’ve had to take on and that I’ve had to work through.
Carry Illinois Discuss Their Emotional EP, “Work In Progress” and Upcoming Shows in Colorado
Interview by Dom Vigil
Carry Illinois are a work in progress, and that’s perfectly okay.
The Austin indie-pop band, fronted by fearless singer/guitarist Lizzy Lehman is known for wearing their hearts on their sleeves, with songs touching on subjects ranging from LGBTQ+ issues to self acceptance, mental health and suicide. Their newest EP, Work In Progress is no different – in fact, it finds Carry Illinois opening up more than ever, making their upcoming shows in Colorado something you don’t want to miss.
Carry Illinois will be performing at Lions Lair in Denver, CO on Sunday, July 8th and at Magic Rat in Fort Collins on Tuesday, July 10th. Details for both shows can be found HERE. Listen to Work In Progress and get to know the band a bit better below!
Can you tell us a little bit about Carry Illinois for any readers who might not be familiar?
Lizzy Lehman [vocals/guitar]: Carry Illinois is an earnest pop/rock band based in Austin, Texas with music deeply rooted in songwriting that reflects my experiences with love, death, sexuality, body image issues, depression, anxiety, and all the tough stuff it can be hard to talk about.
We’ve got Darwin Smith on electric guitar, Rudy Villarreal on drums, Benjamin Violet on keys, Andrew Pressman on bass, and myself (Lizzy Lehman) on guitar and lead vocals. My talented and super creative band mates provide a lush and supportive musical backdrop for my intimate songs; they are a group of super wonderful guys who I have grown to love and trust like family.
Back in May, you celebrated the release of your new EP, Work In Progress. Now that it has been out for a bit, what are some of your favorite things about it?
Work In Progress is the most personal and vulnerable set of songs I have written to date. I love that I had the courage to stare down some of my deepest fears and reveal who I am at my core. I am proud that I was able to be honest about how I feel about my body and the work I need to do to reach towards self love.
Also, this record was a fully collaborative effort by the band and engineer. Everyone got to explore and flex their creative muscles without judgement, and I really enjoy the texture and dimension we were able to develop.
Work In Progress follows your 2017 EP, Garage Sale. What has the journey been like in the year since then? How do you feel you’ve grown?
It has been a personally challenging year, but I have learned a lot about myself. I have learned to be ok with imperfection, to battle mental health struggles with optimism, to look deeper into the inner workings of my relationships, and to see my self as beautiful and powerful despite feelings of doubt or shame. I have learned to sing about my truths even when I’m so anxious my chest could explode.
Lyrically, was there anything you wanted to touch on with this release that you weren’t able to with Garage Sale?
Not really. Both albums were fitting reflections of what I was going through when they were written. I wouldn’t have been able to express my thoughts with so much vulnerability on the new EP without having processed the emotions and grief within Garage Sale’s songs.
What was the biggest challenge you came across when working on the EP? How did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge I came across when working on the EP was making sure that the lyrics from the most intimate and emotionally difficult songs were heard. We made sure to not overcrowd those songs with too many instrumentals or harmonies. The song “Work in Progress” was left relatively bare so the message, that we all have work we can do to be our best selves, was loud and clear.
You’re currently getting ready to hit the road in support of Work In Progress. What are you most excited about on these upcoming tour dates?
I am most excited about bringing these songs to new friends. I love learning how new listeners personally connect to the songs and the performance. If a song makes someone cry or think about something they are going through, I want to hear about it and let them know they’re not alone.
You’ll also be spending a few days in Colorado at Lions Lair in Denver and Magic Rat in Fort Collins. What can fans expect at these shows?
Fans can expect compelling, driven pop/rock designed to make you feel. Don’t be afraid to feel, friends; it makes us human and brings us together.
With Work In Progress out now, do you have any other big plans for the rest of 2018?
I would love to start working on writing new songs for a full length record. It may be time for me to go into my music cave.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
We look forward to meeting you in the cooler climates of Colorado! Come talk to us!
KUTX Studio 1A 5.23.18
For Carry Illinois chief singer/songwriter Lizzy Lehman, making music is a chance to work through her personal experiences. Her new EP ,Work in Progress, largely deals with the aftermath of original bassist John Winsor’s unexpected death. While the new songs are unapologetically darker than previous material they manage to capture Carry Illinois’ unique synth-pop sensibilities better than ever before. Guitarist Darwin Smith, bassist Andrew Pressman, keyboardist Benjamin Rowe Violet and percussionist Rudy Villarreal provide driving beats that build into spacy synth jams perfectly suited for Lehman’s soaring vocals. The net effect is epic prog songs condensed into perfectly polished pop packages. Click the link below to listen to their performance from Studio 1A.
Diandra Reviews it All-Carry Illinois Show We Are A “Work In Progress”
When it comes to indie-pop, Carry Illinois may define themselves as confronters of “BS”, but I think they are givers of benevolence. Their new EP, “Work In Progress” is like a sonic lesson in self-forgiveness and kindness, while also buzzing off anyone who tries to stop you from such things. With a sound that feels like rock n’ roll softened by blue hues, Carry Illinois are offering music mindfulness.
From “Runaway” to “Scattered”, Carry Illinois drive a certain message; your history defines your future according to what you learn from it. We all have our past sins and current flaws, but if you really want to “be better”, you have to let go of others’ opinions and pick up your own lessons. Lizzy Lehman revs this message by having a voice that sounds like Stevie Nicks and Brittany Howard vocally melded together. Her capacity to melt and solidify lyrics like iron shows that we all are a “Work In Progress” or, at least, have some aspect of our life that is “in development”. Thus, she feels emotionally easy as she sings to being emotionally confused.
Sonically, Carry Illinois feels steamed. No matter what their pace, from “B.S. (Nobody’s Perfect)” to “Pushing Sound”, synths are abound and billowing like fog. Yet, their lyrics sift through the haze to create an EP that aims to move your soul with electro sounds. While most electro-infused songs want to move your feet, Carry Illinois want to make sure you are working your heart.
Austin360 On The Record: Patricia Vonne, Brownout, more
Carry Illinois, “Work in Progress” EP. On their second EP in as many years following 2015’s full-length “Alabaster,” singer-songwriter Lizzy Lehman’s indie-rock/pop outfit strikes mood-heavy tones on a short set of songs dealing in part with the 2016 suicide of the band’s original bassist, John Winsor. She tackles her feelings head-on in “Runaway,” the album’s most instantly arresting track, singing “I know it’s no good to run away.” Guitarist Darwin Smith, drummer Rudy Villarreal, bassist Andrew Pressman and keyboardist Benjamin Rowe Violet provide inventive and empathetic support throughout.
B-Sides and Badlands Review: Carry Illinois unload a heavy heart with new EP, ‘Work in Progress’
My anxiety leaves me pretty unsettled some days. I’ve often spent long stretches of days, weeks even, of hiding away in my covers, clutching my three adorable cats closer to my bare chest, tears staining my cheeks, and wondering what my purpose in life possibly could be. It’s an unbearable weight, and I’ve thought long and hard about ending it all. That’s not to heave that burden upon you, dear reader, but to give you context on one of the year’s best releases ⎯⎯ electric and eclectic indie-pop band Carry Illinois grant stunning insight with their new EP, Work in Progress, out on Friday, a bristled and homely and humbled lineup of tunes. It’s worn around the edges, but underneath, there beats a truly remarkable, one-of-a-kind heart.
It takes an astounding amount of courage to own your own shit, and singer-songwriter Lizzy Lehman is one of the bravest people walking this earth. Her footsteps are scorched, and she breathes fire with each syllable. “I’m a work in progress / Let’s get to it,” she determines on the broiled, gut-stabbing title song, the backbone that not only embodies her journey to self-worth but serves as a crucial admission of a time within we seem to be trapped and bound by stigmas, bigotry and political and social ruin. Lehman’s phrasing is devastating and gorgeously wrought, as if she has ripped her heart from her own chest and is offering it up to us as a mettlesome sacrifice. “Hold on to the good love and the notion that you’re a good man / I see it, and I hope you know it, too,” she sings, applying the message outward to a former band mate who also suffered from mental illness.
Work in Progress (produced by the band, along with Grant Johnson) is grim, a confrontational procedure that witnesses Lehman dissecting her past and exposing its withered roots that have lodged in her brain. “Gotta start at the start at the beginning / ‘Cuz that’s the only place to start / When did you first begin to hate your body and your heart? I was 6, or I was 7, wasn’t I too young to feel that way?” she questions with the raspy single “Runaway,” which careens along as she processes her former stagnation and soured views of herself. The EP, which spends very little time wallowing and plenty of time being brutally honest about her reality, is Lehman “realizing life is a fragile thing. You have to take everything moment by moment, celebrate the successes, and learn from and move past the failures and painful experiences to grow stronger,” she says.
“You are not a out of commission / Not a shard of glass scattered on the floor,” Lehman gently counsels on the opening line of “Scattered,” an eviscerating, guitar-carved mid-tempo that presents the record’s main themes of honesty and alertness. The musical tone, cemented within the first few frames, thanks in large part to a sturdy and reliable band of players of Darwin Smith (guitar), Andrew Pressman (bass), Benjamin Rowe Violet (keyboards) and Rudy Villarreal (drums), is one of mammoth colors, painted with frizzy, faded and crumbling brushes. But that’s the vibrancy of life, drenched in misery and self-loathing and anger. Carry Illinois are gentle in their musings, though, licensing themselves to sink into the sorrow but not be hindered by it. “It’s the most human and revealing set of songs that I’ve ever written. One of the things that I decided after John [Winsor, former guitar player] passed away is that I can’t waste time putting a mask on,” says Lehman, whose vocal is always heavy but somehow fluffed with possibilities. “I have to be completely transparent and honest. That’s the only way I’m going to be able to process what I’m going through.”
“Call out my bullshit when you hear it,” Lehman charges on “B.S. (Nobody’s Perfect),” a song tuned with extraterrestrial-styled synths and coarse, folksy drum work. It’s that cool, hyper-tightened play of the synthetic and organic that makes the extended play so damn captivating; the instruments bounce back and forth, each spin, each tear echoes and drives the stakes further into our psyche. It’s both urgent and relaxed: if Lana Del Rey and Stevie Nicks were cloned and stitched together. “Tell me a story, I want to help in the healing / So I can be closer without stealing away / Teach me about fighting, by standing up straight / So I can stop crying, and carrying freight,” she instructs, dragging her embittered, numbed, cold heart across the barren, sweltering landscape. She ultimately resolves to save herself, lugging out of the dust and dirt and into fresh water.
Work in Progress is a work of immense art, carefully resting in life’s cruelty but not being damned there forever. It does get better.
The New Nine: New Music Alert-Carry Illinois
Austin has such a strong tradition of local music. Everyone is so supportive of each other and there’s this amazing culture surrounding local artists. We chat with Carry Illinois about their honest writing and their new music.
How did Carry Illinois start?
Carry Illinois began in late 2013 after the previous band I played in, The Blackwells, parted ways. I knew I wanted to keep writing and playing my own songs, but didn’t want to go back to being a solo singer-songwriter. I spent several months experimenting with different sounds, effects, and instrumentations, ultimately recording a new EP with studio musicians. With newly recorded tracks in hand, I found bandmates through mutual friends. We practiced the songs for several months within a new pop/rock context, and played our first official show in March 2014.
How did you find your sound?
We discovered the sound of the band through complete collaboration. I wrote my most honest work, influenced simultaneously by the songwriting legends of the 60’s and 70’s and by 90’s pop rock. I then handed the songs over and gave the band full reign to be inspired, explore, and develop a lush musical backdrop. My bandmates are incredibly talented and creative, so it was easy to trust them with my vision.
Tell me about Work In Progress, I love the title what’s the meaning behind it?
Thank you! I have struggled to find and love myself, be ok with the body I live in, and grow stronger from my painful emotional past. Progress, for me, is about accepting imperfection, working towards embracing uniqueness and beauty, and learning to cope with a new emotional framework off of antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication. No human is perfect. We are all constantly evolving creatures who need support and love. We all have to work to become our best selves.
The songwriting is so honest, was it hard confronting those darker themes?
I have spent many days filled with doubt, self-hatred, depression, and anxiety. It was scary and sometimes difficult to find the right words, but writing about my deepest fears was the best way for me to move towards self-love, self-acceptance, and healing. I know this path will be rocky and uncertain, but I am optimistic and ready to move forward.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career?
When my good friend and bandmate John Winsor took his own life in 2016, I didn’t know whether I could go on playing music. I spent several months grieving and living day to day in utter disbelief that he was gone. Remembering that he loved me and always supported my art, I knew that I had to continue on because he would have wanted me to. It was extremely difficult, but I started writing again knowing that he would have been so proud to see me doing what I love most.
Why stay an Austin band? What do you like most about the music scene here?
Austin has an incredibly supportive and tight-knit music community that is like nothing else I have experienced. With so many musicians in one place, there is never a shortage of inspiration or talent. I have made life-long friends and feel more supported by my community than I have anywhere else. While it is a rapidly changing work in progress, I love that the Austin music scene is brimming with talented folks who come together to celebrate unique and passionate art, and want nothing more than to see one another succeed.
After Ellen Premiere: Carry Illinois Releases ‘Pushing Sound’ Ahead of New EP ‘Work in Progress’
We were first introduced to indie-pop band Carry Illinois in 2017 when they released their EP Garage Sale. Last December, we spoke to frontwoman Lizzy Lehman about the inspiration behind the music video Shameful Feeling. The band is set to release their latest EP, Work in Progress, which will be released this week on 5/25. Ahead of the release, we are honored to premiere the track “Pushing Sound.”
“Pushing Sound is a song about wanting to escape the difficult realities of everyday life. The song explores the need to drown out anxiety, pressure, and noise by replacing it with hopeful human connection, strength, emotional confidence, love, and deep interpersonal understanding.” – Lizzy Lehman
Floorshime Zipper Boots: Carry Illinois “Runaway” Review
Austin based indie band Carry Illinois are back with a stunning new single Runaway. The track is a poignant lyrical statement about facing one’s fears. With the superb, powerful vocals of front-person Lizzy Lehman, framed by exciting musical arrangements that gush with originality, strength and edde, this is a track that is more than just compelling. Turn on to your next new favorite band.
Peach ATL Feature
The Deli Austin – Carry Illinois Shows Strength On “Shameful Feeling”
Pain has different effects on people and for the indie pop quintet, Carry Illinois, they channeled their pain into beautiful music that is as moving as it is accessible. Having lost their original bassist, John Winsor, to suicide in March 2016, the band has managed to persevere on by writing new songs as part of their coping and mourning. The song “Shameful Feeling” off of their recently released EP ‘Garage Sale’, is a heart-wrenching anthem to waiting for the moral arch to bend towards justice. Lizzy Lehman’s emotive warble and incisive lyrics, show that beauty can spring from some of the ugliest places.
Austin Chronicle – Free Week Live Show Review
Austin’s Nine Mile Records packed both stages at Barracuda last Friday, beginning with local fivepiece Carry Illinois and the booming, brassy voice of Lizzy Lehman. Powering sleepy, twee-pop instrumentation, the singer/guitarist skewed introspective on “Shameful Feeling,” her otherwise theatrical voice hushed. “Little Shell” offered like-minded empathy, Lehman’s earnest narratives proving warm and hopeful.
Abram Shook delved into sophisticated yacht rock – bright, rhythmic, undulating. Cool and understated, his falsetto carved out a breezy, atmospheric airiness. Organs and pedal steel in the singer’s backing foursome pushed the sound from guitar rock into something more experimental. From last year’s Love at Low Speed, “Lies” offered that same pedal steel at breakneck speed.
Closers Tinnarose performed as an eightpiece complete with brass section and two fluid backup dancers in brightly colored gauze ensembles. Devon McDermott’s towering, hypnotic voice traversed a divergent set list, at times slipping into a reserved folk psychedelia conjuring Jefferson Airplane, which also accounted for a hammering, throughly explosive jam-band sound on “TamLin.”
KUTX MyKUTX Guest DJ Hour
Carry Illinois is an Austin-based indie-pop band started by singer/guitarist Lizzy Lehman, who grew up a huge fan of ’60s pop. Some of that shows up in Carry Illinois’ sparkling sound, but 2017’s Garage Sale EP is streaked with darker shadows. But this week on My KUTX, Lehman brings the sunshine as our guest DJ, picking songs and artists that have influenced her since she was a kid. Hear My KUTX on Saturday, January 6, 6-7 p.m. or listen anytime at the bottom of the page.
–Art Levy // producer, My KUTX
[intro music: Carry Illinois – “Years To Come”]
1. Carole King – “Really Rosie”
2. The Beatles – “Yellow Submarine”
3. Brandi Carlile – “Closer To You”
4. Shawn Colvin – “Sunny Came Home”
5. The Supremes – “Where Did Our Love Go”
6. Sylvan Esso – “The Glow”
7. Lizzo – “Good As Hell”
8. Joni Mitchell – “Cactus Tree”
9. Crosby, Stills & Nash – “Helplessly Hoping”
10. Jefferson Airplane – “Somebody To Love”
11. Destiny’s Child – “Say My Name”
12. Third Eye Blind – “Jumper”
13. The Mamas & Papas – “Monday, Monday”
14. Lucius – “Dusty Trails”
Austin Chronicle – The Gay Place Free Week Feature
Lizzy Lehman, lead singer of lo-fi, indie-pop band Carry Illinois, is psyched to play Free Week this year. Her band, which released its first EP Siren in 2014, is playing the Nine Mile Records showcase tonight. And while Lehman has been writing songs for over 10 years now, she hasn’t always been comfortable with performing her music.
Lehman rode out her nascent years in the capital city music scene as part of an Americana band that was “very straight,” and says she never felt totally at home in the twang. “I was writing songs, but they didn’t really feel authentic to my experience. I was just trying to make them fit the mold of the genre,” she tells Gay Place. For Lehman, the turning point in her music career followed the suicide of John Winsor – her friend and longtime bandmate – in March 2016. As Lehman explains, the shock of Winsor’s death caused her to take a step back and reevaluate her life both on and off stage. She asked herself: Was she writing and performing music that truly felt like hers?
Lehman tackled this question head on with Carry Illinois’ latest EP Garage Sale. Released in May 2017, Garage Sale is the band’s first major album since Winsor’s death and represents a major creative breakthrough for Lehman. “I would say that 95 percent of those songs I wrote after he passed away.” For her, songwriting was a cathartic way to process the loss of someone so close.
In the wake of tragedy, Lehman has made a conscious effort to write and perform more personal music. “I’ve let go of a bunch of insecurities and decided that I don’t have to hide anymore,” she says. “I don’t have to mask anything in my songs because there’s no reason to.” In fact, Lehman believes the vulnerability in her latest work is beneficial. It allows her to explore her experiences as a lesbian and her struggles with depression and anxiety, while creating a larger base for listeners to identify with.
When asked which of the six songs on Garage Sale reflects the queer experience the strongest, Lehman points to “Shameful Feeling,” the EP’s lead single. “It deals with shaking off the shame [I had] of being gay as well as any shame and doubt I might have in my life in general,” she says. But the song doesn’t simply mirror her own experiences, she was also inspired by her wife’s childhood growing up queer in Texas.
Now, as adults, Lehman and her wife have found a powerful sense of community in Austin where she says she’s always felt supported. However, she’s quick to emphasize the importance of carving out space for queer artists and musicians. “There’s a spotlight that needs to be shined,” says Lehman. “It’s helpful to have some separate events because it really does give queer musicians a place to feel safe and be among people who maybe share some similar experiences as them.”
Looking toward the future, Lehman hopes that Carry Illinois can continue making music that remains as honest as possible. Currently, the band is working on another EP slated for release this May. The upcoming single will tackle the intersection of queerness and body politics. “It’s definitely about being honest and vulnerable,” says Lehman. “That’s what makes the music work and what makes it powerful and what makes people connect to it.”
Ovrld Austin Artist Pick: Best Austin Music Video 2017
Favorite Austin Music Video of 2017
Carry Illinois – “Electric Charm”
I *LOVE* this song so much, and this beautifully animated video starts with some kind of psychedelic looking vagina, so I was instantly a fan. This was a hard question, because we’re spoiled with great directors in town (Zack Scott and John Valley are my faves), but I love Yukai Du’s work in this.
On Vinyl Media Live Show Review and “Shameful Feeling” Music Video Feature
Cheer Up Charlie’s always maintains a lively chatter. Even on a foggy Sunday night, a friendly crowd amassed to watch Carry Illinois perform songs from their Garage Sale EP. I was greeted by the band’s frontwoman Lizzy Lehman with a warm smile and Cheer Up’s colorful lights illuminating her.
Lizzy has dedicated five years to this project, a hybrid band that floats in between being a musical anchor for the local LGBT community and a passionate dedication to another emotional theme: the unanticipated death of her bandmate and close friend John Winsor in 2016. The tragic event delivered a story worth pursuing and it was obvious that the event largely influenced the energy of the band. Even the prologuing soundcheck riddled me with anticipation.
GARAGE SALE LIVE SET
The set did not disappoint. Through expressive motion, Lizzy lead the group into their first song, carrying a powerful vocal delivery. Usually armored with an instrument, she was forced to go guitar-less due to cutting her finger weeks prior. Nevertheless, the band’s style has the quality of building a great story, beginning with a slower tempo that erupts into an exciting and dramatic uplift that reveals a surprising and special gutting charm. The harmonies and keys added an ethereal poppy charm to a couple of their songs and in others, the drummer was able to showcase his raw ability.
Finally nearing the end of their set, they played “Shameful Feeling,” which they recently unveiled a new music video for. It’s a very well put together song with Lizzy’s fiery vocals and some happy guitar work that carried a nice rhythm, but again, what added a very subtle but important touch to the song was the band’s newest addition, keyboardist Benjamin Rowe Violet. Ben added a wonderful and light relief that lifted the crowd from the band’s sometimes melancholic tone and sad lyrical themes.
Though the set was short, the band did deliver one last request from the crowd: the performance of one of the band’s older songs, “Electric Charm.” While the band had not practiced this song for their set that night, it was the cherry on top and added raw charm to end their set.
NewNowNext “Shameful Feeling” Music Video Premiere
After the release of their debut album, Alabaster, folk-pop quintet Carry Illinois had to pivot direction when its original bassist, John Winsor, committed suicide. “It was one of the hardest parts of my life so far,” lesbian front woman Lizzy Lehman, 31, tells NewNowNext.
But the tragic loss didn’t stop the group from forging a new path forward in its latest EP. “All of Garage Sale is a tribute to [John],” Lehman says. “In a sort of weird way, his death inspired me to keep trying and keep striving. Since then, I’ve just honed in more on being okay with who I am—my weirdness, my queerness.”
Lehman’s pride is solidified in the band’s newest music video, “Shameful Feeling,” which pairs artist Trevor Wiggins’ quirky animations with a catchy anthem that celebrates honesty and self-love. We chatted with Lehman about the release.
What inspired “Shameful Feeling”?
I wrote “Shameful Feeling” to be mostly about shaking off fears and doubts and rising above any sort of bullying or shaming that people have done to me in the past—and as an inspiration to those who have experienced similar things. This is really one of my first chances to express [the bullying] I went through and know that I am a much stronger and wiser person now.
It’s also a coming out song. In 2017, when this can seem unnecessary to some, why do you think it is important to talk openly about this process?
The music community is pretty heteronormative. There’s not a lot of folks that are LBGTQ who are really out there doing it. I just wanted to be one of those people who is bringing my love for music and the queer world together as one.
Why did you pick this song as the lead single for Garage Sale?
It’s one of the only songs that truly expresses where I’m at and where I want to be. It’s one of the songs that make me feel strong and empowered when I sing it.
Bryan C. Parker
Who are your biggest musical influences?
A nerdy folk reference for you: Carole King is my biggest songwriting inspiration. I grew up listening to a lot folk and ’60s music. Brandi Carlile, I’m a really big fan of. I would definitely add Lizzo to the list. She is just this plus-sized, bad-ass R&B hip-hop and rap performer. She is slaying so hard right now, and it’s incredible to see somebody who is not a size two just dominating.
If you could describe your music as having a superpower, what would it be?
I would say not taking bullshit.
That’s something we could all use right now.
Yeah, and to not internalize any judgement that people pass on to you. Each person has a lot to offer, especially right now. It’s a really great time to be a queer entertainer, or even somebody who doesn’t fit the social norm.
Austin Monthly Band of the Month May 2017
A year ago, Lizzy Lehman and her band Carry Illinois were reeling from the loss of close friend John Winsor, the group’s bassist, who took his own life in March 2016. Paralyzed with grief, Lehman spent weeks in a state of disbelief, “not able to do much of anything,” haunted with questions. How could this have happened? Winsor and Lehman met while playing in another band, the Blackwells, and grew closer when John started playing in Carry Illinois—close enough for Lizzy to refer to John as a “surrogate brother in a way.” Although Lehman struggled to find the right therapist to help her cope with John’s death, the fog of her grief cleared enough for her to begin working through her emotions by writing new songs.
“When I was able to start processing,” Lehman says, “this was what came out…. I absolutely knew that he never would have wanted me to stop playing or writing.”
Despite some uncertainty about how to move forward without John, the band started to rehearse again, and Lehman eventually brought her collection of personal, raw songs, to the group—Rudy Villarreal, Darwin Smith, Andrew Pressman, and Derek Morris. “Because we had shared this deeply sad experience together, they just understood,” she says. After deciding to record the new songs in a studio, the band ambitiously contacted producer John Congleton. Flattered, but completely booked, Congleton referred Carry Illinois to producer and musician John Vanderslice, who runs Tiny Telephone studio in Oakland. Vanderslice has a reputation as a studio whiz and has worked with a slate of well-known artists, including Spoon and St. Vincent.
Spending a week or so holed up together in the studio solidified a new level of trust and camaraderie for Carry Illinois. “We were really working as a team,” Lehman comments, adding that the sessions felt “less rushed” than ever before. The result, a new EP called Garage Sale emphasizes mellow keys and guitar arrangements centered around Lehman’s wavering, pensive vocals. On the record’s strengths, Lehman says “it’s the truest songwriting [she’s] done.”
A year removed from Winsor’s death, Lehman focuses on a new question: “How do I keep his memory going through my music?” Although the songs on Garage Sale chronicle Lehman’s personal experience with trauma, she hopes the songs are universally accessible and reach out to anyone processing a painful experience. She cites one of her ultimate goals as “being able to connect to people on a really human level with music.”
No Depression Garage Sale EP Review
‘Garage Sale,’ the new album from Carry Illinois, is a testament to the human experience. It’s a tour-de-force of emotion and takes you on an emotional journey with the band. For singer/songwriter Lizzy Lehman, losing a bandmate last year was a paralyzing experience, but writing new music gave her hope.
She said, “I took some songwriting workshops about using songwriting as truth-telling” and felt a switch in herself. She said that the class made her realize the importance of writing about her genuine experiences because “that’s the stuff that people really connect to.” To draw on the tragedy the band faced, ‘Garage Sale’ became therapy.
Despite the surrounding circumstances, the album became an expression of hope. The songs life you up rather than depress and each one feels like a new experience. The album has so many different influences from vintage college-rock mettle to a little lush AOR that it’s impossible to get bored. Take “Years to Come,” which plays midway through the album and catches a current of ringing new-wave guitars, marching choral drums, and Brill Building harmonies: It’s a defiant gesture though relatively unadorned.
By partnering with admired producer John Vanderslice, the band took a raw approach, focusing on emotion and instrumental nuance. Lehman described her experience saying, “I think John, immediately when he heard the music, knew making sure the vocals were right up front and the lyrics could be heard was top priority, and made me super confident recording with him.”
But Vanderslice defers credit entirely to the band. He said he mostly tried to stay out of the way and just capture the energy. He even went as far as to say, “The band was so good I didn’t want to impose a production style.”
With top-tier production, raw emotion, and exciting nuanced tracks, Garage Sale is a memorable album about love and loss. It’s a ode to recovery and moving forward — a true inspirational ballad.
Album out: May 12
— Lou Flesh
KUTX Studio 1A
Austin-based indie group Carry Illinois is making music for the right reasons. In the wake of a personal tragedy, the band set to work on a six-song EP, their third major release, that explores issues surrounding death and mourning as a way of coping with loss. At its core, Garage Sale is a very personal collection of well-constructed, well-produced, and well-performed indie rock songs. They’re not busy, clunky affairs; the songs are clean and pared down, a move that elegantly frames singer Lizzy Lehman’s poetic and touching lyrics. The songs feel like little glimpses into the life of a person who’s growing in the wake of a tragedy, the album has an emotional narrative that gives new depth and meaning to the songs. Carry Illinois is making music for the right reasons, and that sort of honesty and transparency makes its way into the band’s sound, to great effect. The band stopped by Studio 1A to gives us a preview of the album, which comes out next week. Check it out below!
– James Parker
Bitch Media New Music Monday
How does one start again? When is the end really the end, and when is the end a seed to the next beginning? Austin, Tex. band Carry Illinois found itself grappling with those questions in March 2016, when a founding member of the band died tragically. Bandleader Lizzy Lehman found herself unable to write for months, as the remaining members decided whether or not to keep making music together. By November of that year, they had decided to keep working. Lizzie wrote a collection of songs processing her grief, the band selected a new bassist, and musician and recording engineer John Vanderslice offered to produce the tracks that emerged that winter. The result is Garage Sale, to be released May 12th. These six songs are heartbreaking, but not devastating. This is music from a band that stared death in the face and chose to live. Lehman’s voice is strong even when it wavers. The album’s standout is “Little Shell,” all sharp lyrical edges and raw, searching lyrics about facing a world of uncertainty. But it’s album closer “Goodnight” that best captures the tone of the album, wading into the dark to get through to the light. “Why is it so hard to restart?” Lehman asks, and then, an answer to herself: “I look at all my friends, my dearest family, wishing happiness to call and take the place of agony.” There is no solving the problem of grief, but there is always the possibility of new happiness alongside it. Garage Sale makes ample and deeply moving room for both.
Look for previews from Garage Sale later this month. In the meantime, here’s the band’s latest video, “Electric Charm,” from a 7-inch released last fall.
Paste Magazine “Electric Charm” Video Premiere
When Carry Illinois’ bassist John Winsor took his life in 2016, the remaining members were numbed by their loss. They channeled their emotions the best way musicians know how: the release of a new album “Garage Sale”. The emotional 6-track tackles their loss not with sadness and helplessness, but with hope for their future.
by John Vanderslice, the album focuses on the importance of singer Lizzy Lehman’s lyrics and is a stripped-down wonder. Electric Charm is an upbeat bouncy track that comes from a 2-song release called “Electric Charm/Sea Inside”.The video’s colorful animation by Yukai Du is a unique representation of the music through color and morphing from one shape to the next. The result is the best dang thing I have seen in a long time!
Lizzy states that the song “Electric Charm” began as a way for her to express and work through the pain that she experienced being bullied in high school. “The only place I truly felt safe and at home was on stage and in the choir room. It wasn’t until college that I was able to make friends that I could relate to and be myself around. I could finally express my true self without the fear of being ridiculed or laughed at. It is only in the last couple years that I have found the strength to reflect on those early years with the confidence of knowing that I have risen above the hurtful words of my youth and find myself living happily.”
Lizzy chose to have a video made for this song to express the growth in her personal confidence. She also wanted to have a beautiful piece of art that featured the musical talents of their former bass player John Winsor, who tragically took his own life in March 2016. This video is for him.
When working with Yukai Du of Bliink Studios (Brighton, England) the collaboration came about very naturally. They provided her with the lyrics, the themes of the song, the color palette they preferred, and then gave her free-reign to work her magic.
“I like to give creative folks as much freedom as possible when starting a project and then ask for certain elements to be modified, provide criticism, and express my thoughts as the process happens. The imagery of a solitary person in space, the electric elements of earth, and the colorful abstract shifting shapes tie together the intimate themes of the song while creating a universal feel that people can relate to.”
The video for “Electric Charm” is an exciting creative step for the band and Lizzy looks forward to diving deeper into more collaborative artistic efforts with future songs.
This tribute to her friend and band mate is simply touching and beautifully done. It is an honor to listen to these lyrics and support this release. We suggest you check out Carry Illinois’s upcoming release “Garage Sale” which comes out May 12th. It is jam packed with songs that will instantly give you goose bumps.
Impose Magazine “Electric Charm” Video Premiere
As Austin-based indie pop collective Carry Illinois – comprised of Lizzy Lehman, Andrew Pressman, Rudy Villarreal, Darwin Smith, and Derek Morris – prepares for the release of their new album Garage Sale on May 12th, they’ve got a little surprise for us. We’re hosting the exclusive premiere of the music video for “Electric Charm”, and we’re totally smitten.
It’s never easy to reach back into your past and revisit the painful parts of growing up. In high school I was surrounded by kids who were solely concerned with societal norms, materialism, and looking, dressing, and acting like everyone else. There was little room for being the weirdo or girl who wasn’t a size 2,4,6 etc. “Electric Charm” is about not fitting in, not being the popular kid, and finally finding my place in the world once I moved away from home and began to shape my true self and find real friends who accepted me for me. In spite of vast self-esteem issues over the years, music has always been comforting and I am proud to share it with the world.
Du has created unique profiles with an interesting color palette, almost creating a fuzzy texture in her illustrations. She plays with the idea of being completely alone in a room full of people, and the subject matter of the song itself absolutely shines through.
Keep an eye out for Garage Sale here.
Carry Illinois Daytrotter Session
Futureappletree, Rock Island, IL
- Welcome to Daytrotter
- Lost And Found
- Sleepy Eyes
- Small Steps
American Songwriter “Smoke and Medicine” Video Premiere
There are some childhood memories that stick with us forever. For Carry Illinois’ Lizzy Lehman, an incident with her brother became one such memory, one that inspired her to write the confessional tune “Smoke and Medicine.” The Austin-by-way-of-Evanston songwriter has a knack for channeling small moments into meaningful tunes, as evinced by the band’s debut album Alabaster, which counts its influences as spanning from Laurel Canyon to Smiths hometown Manchester, England.
“I simply didn’t want to hide anymore. ‘Smoke and Medicine’ reveals my imperfections, my secrets, my truths, and my need to express that, like most people, at times I need to quell my fears, anxieties, and sadness through a less than accepted vice,” Lehman tells AS. “When I was in high school, I told on my brother for smoking pot in the garage solely because I was not a fan of the kids he was hanging out with. A few years later, I found myself hiding away, just the same, partaking in order to feel just a little bit better. I needed to apologize for what I had done and own up to my own hypocrisy. I needed to say that I wasn’t always the perfect child, that I did things wrong time and again, and that I needed to decompress from life. I wanted to tell the world that I wasn’t doing anything wrong even though so many believe otherwise. We shove legal chemical cocktails into our throats every day and still become unhinged. It seems that the universal mentality about drugs is backwards, and I want people to know that that is truly how I feel. Clearly, as we have seen over the past few years, the times are changing, laws are changing, and minds are changing. People are beginning to see light and it should be discussed.
When deciding how the song should be portrayed visually, I wanted the movements to express physical and mental struggle as well as growth, change, and freedom. I wanted the video to be simple yet strong. I wanted it to express the trials and tribulations of youth that every young person deals with on a daily basis. Toronto based video director Sammy Rawal did an excellent job bringing my visions to life. The video was filmed in black and white with hand colored red shadows behind Toronto based dancer Ila Kavanagh as she moved. The red shadows emphasize the very difficult dance we go through when navigating the ups and downs of life. It is tough to grow up and get through it all, but if we work together, support one another, and stand up tall, we will be able to breathe through it and take on another day.”