Rilo Kiley is my personal favorite indie-rock band from the 2000s. With lead singer Jenny Lewis, lead guitarist Blake Sennett, Pierre de Reeder on bass and guitar, Jason Boesel and Dave Rock on percussion, this band came out with quite a few powerhouse albums throughout their time as a group. If you’re looking to get into some good quality indie-rock that screams “early 2000s,” you’ve come to the right place. Without further ado, let’s dive into the best of… Rilo Kiley.
“Portions for Foxes”
This tune off Rilo Kiley’s album “More Adventurous” is an absolute banger. This guitar heavy track about seeking physical connection to cope makes you want to scream along in the car with all your windows down. Funnily enough, this song was used in the pilot episode of the hit show “Grey’s Anatomy” and is used several times throughout the series whenever an allusion is made to the pilot. Everything about this song is classic 2000s indie-rock, and I love it. This is definitely the song I would recommend listening to first if you’re looking to get into Rilo Kiley.
Favorite Lyric: “’Cause you’re just damage control / For a walking corpse like me.”
“A Better Son/Daughter”
This ballad about the feeling of inadequacy and growing pains immediately became one of my all-time favorites upon my first time listening to it. Jenny Lewis’ whispering vocals in the beginning builds slowly into her borderline screaming toward the end. This track is one for crying to, but still a banger nonetheless. One of their strongest songs lyrically, “A Better Son/Daughter” fits perfectly in with the rest of Rilo Kiley’s album “The Execution of All Things.” I cannot speak highly enough about the album, and if I could include the whole record on this list, I would.
Favorite Lyric: “And crawl back into bed to dream of a time / When your heart was open wide and you loved things just because / Like the sick and the dying.”
“Let Me Back In”
This ode to Los Angeles has a beach-like feel with the main instrumentals being the acoustic guitar. There’s a powerful moment about three-quarters of the way through the song where the lyrics pause for an instrumental breakdown, and the percussion is the sound of clapping hands. The clapping gives it a human spirit, making this song one of my favorites by the band. Favorite Lyric: “And you can bury me when my body breaks / In the earth that created me, in the Golden State.”
Another lyrically strong track off of “The Execution of All Things,” “Spectacular Views” may be my favorite song by Rilo Kiley. The second verse of this song is just perfect. The band does make some interesting choices regarding instrumentation, with a squeaky recorder sounding breakdown after the second chorus, but I dig it. The track ends with a fragment of another song that’s woven throughout the album called “And That’s How I Choose to Remember It.”
Favorite Lyric: “You never knew why you felt so good / In the strangest of places / Like in waiting rooms / Or long lines that made you late / Or mall parking lots on holidays.”
This track contains my favorite production in a Rilo Kiley song as well as my favorite Jenny Lewis vocals in a Rilo Kiley song. The upbeat production and springy instrumentals starkly contrast with the rather dark lyrics about death. With lyrics that read like poetry, this tune is my favorite off of Rilo Kiley’s album “More Adventurous.”
Favorite Lyric: “And the skin you call your home / Holds a heart that quits and knees that buckle in / And lungs that can’t breathe when they’re alone.”
This song is very sonically different from the rest of the tracks I’ve recommended, but still a very strong contender nonetheless. Jenny Lewis’ vocals really shine through on this song about the end of a relationship. It also features my favorite instrument, the triangle, during the bridge; what’s not to love?
Favorite lyric: “And our bruises are coming / But we will never fold.”
Unfortunately, the group disbanded in 2013 after the release of their final album “rkives,” but they are remembered fondly by fans to this day. This was far from the end of the road for their lead singer, Jenny Lewis, who is still releasing music to this day. Other members also went on to continue a career someway or another in the music industry, whether it be through continuing to play live music or by owning their own recording studio. If you want to check out my picks, I curated this playlist for you.