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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Headlights kill us with their kindness

    Brett Sanderson, left, Erin Fein and Tristan Wraight make up Headlights. This Illinois-based indie band displays a sweetly honest energy.  Headlights play at Plush on Wednesday.
    Brett Sanderson, left, Erin Fein and Tristan Wraight make up Headlights. This Illinois-based indie band displays a ‘sweetly honest energy.’ Headlights play at Plush on Wednesday.

    Like a car’s headlights cutting through a thick fog, Headlights play music to brighten one’s darkest moments.

    “”The feeling we hope to convey is a nostalgic optimism,”” said Tristan Wraight, 25, the guitarist, bassist and co-vocalist of the Champaign, Ill., band.

    On their first album, Kill Them With Kindness, released Aug. 22, they appear to have succeeded. The title refers to the age-old saying, which Wraight said “”represents who we are and where we’re at as people.””

    He said the band tries to take the high end when it comes to life, striving to be nice instead of mean or hateful, especially in the current political climate.

    Like the shoegazing acts of the early ’90s, which Wraight cites as an influence, Headlights carefully constructs layers upon layers of dense musical soundscapes, creating music akin to Canadian band Stars or now-defunct shoegazing favorites, Slowdive.

    Headlights uses sparkling guitars, soaring boy-girl harmonies (Erin Fein, 24, is the keyboardist and co-vocalist) and lush string arrangements to effectively transport the listener into a woozy, dream-like state. The album brims with a sweetly honest energy.

    “”We’re all very sensitive and nostalgic,”” Wraight said.

    Drummer Brett Sanderson, 30, rounds out the trio. Wraight said they are “”equally focused and equally hard-working,”” which he said is a difficult combination to find.

    Wraight said their demanding tour

    schedule – this fall’s tour includes more than 50 dates, including a stop in Tucson – is indicative of their drive for success.

    “”We want to try and make it happen for ourselves,”” he said, referring to the difficulties of making a living as a musician.

    Wraight is excited to play in Tucson. The band toured here previously in the spring.

    “”Tucson’s great,”” he said. “”The desert is harsh and beautiful at the same time.””

    Wraight grew up in a musical household. Mom is a piano teacher, and Dad loved rock ‘n’ roll.

    “”I remember waking up on Saturday mornings listening to Bob Dylan,”” Wraight said.

    His mother even helped Headlights out on the new album – the strings on the album were composed and arranged by Wraight’s mother and Fein.

    Although Wraight is an accomplished violin player with 12 years of lessons under his belt, the delicate strings on Kill Them With Kindness were played by “”friends that we had known from growing up.””

    The three Headlights members each have day jobs, though music is far and away their primary focus. Fein was a competitive figure skater until she decided to center her life around music.

    “”The band is our job,”” Wraight said, “”But we all have several part-time jobs. Erin’s a bartender, I work at a deli and Brett’s a handyman.””

    Headlights’ “”dearest friends”” Decibully, whom they share a tour bus with, open for them. The band is playing Wednesday at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $5.

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