I. An Introduction to the Charles Allison catalogue.
Charles Allison really started making records in 1997 on a cassette 4-track machine in a big old house he shared with his siblings. For those songs and for the many songs he would write and record in the years following, he adopted the Kil Howlie Day moniker (a reference to an unofficial schoolboy holiday in Hawai'i, one of several places the Allison family was stationed during Charles' youth). From the very start, the Kil Howlie Day songs were infectious. Something about the timbre of Charles' voice made them both sad and fun at once. His guitar-playing style was diverse, swaying from the type of cranky snap I associate with early Liz Phair and Billy Bragg to the rounded pop of more-recent XTC. His lyrics were clever, his hooks were memorable, and his perfectionism was everywhere obvious.
Quickly, Charles began filling out the Kil Howlie Day sound by training himself on various instruments, experimenting with various electronic devices, and amassing an arsenal of home-recording knowledge and equipment. Charles also invited some other really talented guys to play on some material; most notably, Matt Turnure became the Kil Howlie Day drummer in 1999, touring with Charles and bassist Jeremy Carriger for "One Finger Ad-Lib" in the summer of 2000. The touring incarnation of Kil Howlie Day recorded "Songs Like Circadian Rhythms" that same year. This third Kil Howlie Day record was the densest, prettiest work Charles had yet produced. It is marked by a desert loneliness reminiscent of bands like Grandaddy and Giant Sand. The record has an insouciant country and western feel that would become even more pronounced on the current record, "Braced in the Beams."
Charles decided to drop the Kil Howlie Day name from this most recent work in recognition of what has been a glacial shift in style and group lineup. In a sense, little has changed in the fundamental equation: Charles is still writing great songs and recording them himself. At the same time, he has covered a lot of territory as a musician and as a person since he first started bouncing tracks on his Tascam machine. Charles Allison's music is now what I think Gram Parsons was talking about when he used the term "Cosmic American Music." It is sweet, true, and struggling always to grow into itself. It only makes sense that Charles should want to put his own name on these songs, like a guarantee. It is hard to say what to expect next from Charles. He is gifted enough to take things in any direction he likes. Still, there is a confidence on "Braced in the Beams" that suggests his future work will further explore the happy meeting of influences that make this record so strong. Raised two hours south of Nashville on new wave and punk rock, Charles Allison has found a voice as natural as the one he was born with.
Friend & Biographer