by Scott Deckman
Much like Brian Wilson crooned on the landmark record Pet Sounds, Kurt Heasley just wasn’t made for these times. I first met the basketball player-sized weirdo at a gig in Baltimore, MD back in 1998 or 1999. He was wearing a winter coat popular 15 years prior – big, ugly, and green: The kind my daddy used to wear. He affected some pan-Europe accent and the music purveyed was pure Kinks. On Precollection, he’s changed once again (which seems to be ritual de lo habitual for the goof), this time playing overwrought Brit neo-psychedelia: Syd Barrett for the indie set. Picture Ian McCulloch on valium mixing with Causey of The Causey Way, now throw in some James McNew from Dump at his most monochromatic, and an incredibly stoned Courtney Taylor-Taylor of the Dandy Warhols and you get the Precollection. On record, Heasley’s voice is incredibly nuanced, a spacey-cum-uppity British drone that no one from Fairfax County, Virginia (which I believe he hails from) should dare breathe.
But hey, he’s been “Getting away with murder now for years,” trying really hard to be important, ripping through old Melody Makers and NMEs, spinning Nico, Barrett-era Pink Floyd, and freaking Grace Slick, plus a bunch of other just-under-the-radar Brit wannabes who took the Strawberry Alarm Clock and Amboy Dukes as logos. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band got some needle time too, no? The more you listen, the more you see the individual songcraft that has fed him for over 10 years. “Mystery School Assembly,” layered with sparse-yet-eloquent guitars, helps drive a sinister beat while Kurt drones on about drugs, spears, and murder. The guy’s nuts. Farfisa organ – Why not? This shit may not be terribly original, and the contrived vocals and pseudo-neo British Invasion may make you want to dismiss it outright, but who cares? This generation’s emo and nü metal crowd really haven’t been exposed to anything like the Lilys’ lazy-yet-intricate ethos – and let’s be honest, the ’90s alt-rock coolsters weren’t that aware of this get-in-the-van-and-tour-our-asses-off underground psychedelia either. Give it a week and the drone and guitar will play in your head like a groovy flashback. Put Precollection on and let Kurt take you to another universe. It’s solid. Trip away.
(740 North La Brea Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90038)