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Rilo's other leader also keeps busy

January 20, 2006|Richard Cromelin | Times Staff Writer

While Jenny Lewis is using her solo album to simplify her music, her co-leader in Rilo Kiley, Blake Sennett, is moving in the opposite direction with his side project, the Elected.

It began as a spare-time, homemade project with no particular aim for release, but it eventually grew into an album of minimalist California folk-pop called "Me First," and Seattle's Sub Pop label put it out in 2004.

On the follow-up, "Sun, Sun, Sun," out Tuesday, Sennett and his Elected partner Mike Bloom have created a grand, richly produced landscape of classic-rock strains. Sennett supplements his Gram Parsons and Elliott Smith elements with arrangements that evoke the Eagles, the Grateful Dead and the Beatles.

"Yeah, I kind of grew up with a mom who was an overactive player of that early '70s smooth rock, and I guess it's in my consciousness," says Sennett, 29. "It seemed like a fun sound to explore. I love the sounds of those records. I stopped just short of the Bee Gees....

"Also," he adds, "with Jenny doing a side project, there was less guilt and shame about having my side project."

From Lewis' standpoint, Sennett doesn't have to feel guilty.

"I think he's the reason we've done what we've done," she says. "I mean, he's really put himself out there and worked really hard and fought for Rilo Kiley.... I'm incredibly organized.... I can kind of keep the paperwork together, but Blake's the one going out there and fighting."

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