Harp – January 2006

The Accidental Tourist


Rilo Kiley’s Blake Sennett stumbles upon a solo carreer with THE ELECTED

Rilo Kiley tour in a bus now, which means one of two things. First, that Jenny Lewis has a lot more room for her vintage dresses in the trailer and, two, that if you were Blake Sennett, the band’s 29-year-old full-time guitarist and part-time leader of the Elected, you could actually spend decent time recording Sun, Sun, Sun, your second solo album of genre-hugging indie rock, in the back lounge. “It didn’t really matter that much to me,” Sennett says of 2004’s ironically titled Me First, his admittedly iffy first solo disc. “My expectations for that first Elected record were just to finish. I wasn’t sure if anyone would give a shit at all.”

Though he’s never been without the songs, Sennett hasn’t always had the confidence he’s needed to go at it without his Rilo Kiley bandmates; after completing Me First he resolved to post it as a free download on their official Web site. Within weeks, however, tiny lables like Barsuk and major ones like Nettwerk (better known as Coldplay’s first U.S. label) grew interested in the project. “I don’t want to dog out Nettwerk in an interview,” Sennett says, “but that’s not my scene. I have so many friends in the indie-rock community that’d be like, ‘What are you doing, dude?” Sennett eventually settled on Sub Pop. “I was going to say yes to the first person who said they would put it out. Sub Pop said they wanted to.”

Recorded with longtime collaborator Mike Bloom (Rilo Kiley’s live auxiliary guitarist) and featuring guest vocals from both Lewis and Eisley singer Stacy Dupree (“Two of my favorite female voices in modern-day music” he says) the more fully developed Sun, Sun, Sun abandons the occasional drag-and-click folk of his debut for a decidedly lush and more consistently rewarding sound. As for his day job (which is on hold as Lewis also works out a solo career), Sennett insists that Rilo Kiley isn’t calling it quits. “Sometimes when you’re in a band you write a song and people can heare it differently than how you hear it and that can be frustrating,” he says calmly. “This is just how I want it to sound.”