Vinyl Review: Til Willis & Erratic Cowboy — Habit of Being

News / Reviews / Vinyl Review / May 12, 2016

Four songs hit from the future-rustic Midwestern trio

Self-released

The title cut to Habit of Being is a rough and rocking number shot through with elements of surf guitar. Like a blast of pure Springsteen by way of the Gun Club, Willis’ voice carries a weight with it that lends believable quality to the repeated refrain of “I’ll ride on.” “Happy Birthday to the Bomb” is the quieter affair between it and “Nobody Calls Me Home,” with its viola sweetening a sad tune.

“Happy Birthday” and “Nobody Calls Me Home” could even be seen as fraternal twins — they’re both born of the same short sadness — clocking in rather quickly, but while “Happy Birthday” is plaintive in its longing, “Nobody Calls Me Home” is a hoarse shout.

The final song, and the sole cut on the second side, “When the Snow Melts,” is a mournful affair. According to Willis’ liner notes, the song was written after the “untimely death” of his brother. It’s astonishingly gorgeous, and the high lonesome sound of Lori Baker’s violin paired with Willis’ harmonica — to say nothing of the Dylanesque lines, “the only cure for death/Is to never be born” — is the sort of thing that could pull tears from the most stoic.

Sound Quality

The EP sounds a little rough, but it’s most likely due to Willis and company recording this EP in his home, rather than in a studio. The mastering job gives Habit of Being a robust sound, though, even if it does have some ragged edges.

Packaging

The paper sleeve inside the jacket is custom-decorated by Willis himself, and is a pleasant little surprise when you pull the 7″ out for the first time. The liner notes are photocopied, with a great bit of further art — dancing men with lightbulb heads. The artwork is just kind of fascinating.

Extras

The copy I received was pressed on smokey clear green wax, which looks absolutely killer. Every record evidently comes on a different colored vinyl, so who knows what you might receive? The record comes with a download of the EP, as well, and if you tweet or Facebook post that aforementioned custom art, you get a download of a bonus track.

Four songs hit from the future-rustic Midwestern trio Self-released The title cut to Habit of Being is a rough and rocking number shot through with elements of surf guitar. Like a blast of pure Springsteen by way of the Gun Club, Willis’ voice carries a weight with it that lends believable quality to the repeated refrain of “I’ll ride on.” “Happy Birthday to the Bomb” is the quieter affair between it and “Nobody Calls Me Home,” with its viola sweetening a sad tune. “Happy Birthday” and “Nobody Calls Me Home” could even be seen as fraternal twins — they’re both born of the same short sadness — clocking in rather quickly, but while “Happy Birthday” is plaintive in its longing, “Nobody Calls Me Home” is a hoarse shout. Habit of Being EP by Til Willis & Erratic CowboyThe final song, and the sole cut on the second side, “When the Snow Melts,” is a mournful affair. According to Willis’ liner notes, the song was written after the “untimely death” of his brother. It’s astonishingly gorgeous, and the high lonesome sound of Lori Baker’s violin paired with Willis’ harmonica — to say nothing of the Dylanesque lines, “the only cure for death/Is to never be born” — is the sort of thing that could pull tears from the most stoic. Sound Quality The EP sounds a little rough, but it’s most likely due to Willis and company recording this EP in his home, rather than in a studio. The mastering job gives Habit of Being a robust sound, though, even if it does have some ragged edges. Packaging The paper sleeve inside the jacket is custom-decorated by Willis himself, and is a pleasant little surprise when you pull the 7" out for the first time. The liner notes are photocopied, with a great bit of further art — dancing men with lightbulb heads. The artwork is just kind of fascinating. Extras The copy I received was pressed on smokey clear green wax, which looks absolutely killer. Every record evidently comes on a different colored vinyl, so who knows what you might receive? The record comes with a download of the EP, as well, and if you tweet or Facebook post that aforementioned custom art, you get a download of a bonus track. [gallery link="file" ids="76336,76337,76338"] [taq_review] Habit of Being is still available on vinyl from Bandcamp.

Grade

Music - 79%
Sound Quality - 70%
Packaging - 81%
Extras - 83%

78%

This rough-and-ready collection of songs should appeal to anyone looking for Americana with a bit of a kick.

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78

Habit of Being is still available on vinyl from Bandcamp.


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Nick Spacek
Nick Spacek was once a punk, but realized you can’t be hardcore and use the word “adorable” as often as he does. Nick is a self-described “rock star journalist,” which is strange, considering he’s married with four cats and usually goes to bed by 9. This is just further proof that you can’t trust anyone online.