With the release of the decade encompassing retrospective Heavy Years: 2000-2010 (Ernest Jenning Record Company) long time fans have a new opportunity to trace Mills’ evolution from Chicago alt-country refugee to an astute purveyor of orchestral pop and true American song-craft, while the uninitiated may quite possibly be on the verge of discovering their favorite new songwriting voice.
By combining recent material with tracks from his four most recent albums, this collection gives testament to Mills’ consistent ability to wrap savvy commentary and emotional realism into mini-studio masterpieces. At turns slyly romantic and heartbreakingly cleareyed, Mills’ songs are packed with enough winks and asides to let the listener know that even though things seem tragic, at least they’re not alone.
In late 90’s Chicago, Mills rose to local prominence through collaborations with Mekons Jon Langford and Sally Timms, and on bills with acts like Steve Earle, Wilco, Neko Case, My Morning Jacket et. al. But while many would find comfort solely mining the rich soil of Americana music en vogue at the time, Mills was never completely at home within the genres somewhat narrow confines - perhaps first evidenced on tracks like “Signal/Noise”, the closing number on 2000’s Kiss It Goodbye, a post-modern homage to Phil Spector’s wall of sound masterminded by producer Brian Deck (Modest Mouse, Josh Ritter, Iron and Wine).
Over the next decade Mills would travel constantly throughout the United States and Europe, developing a loyal following and touring with artists including Ben Folds, Andrew Bird, Califone, Bishop Allen, The Handsome Family, and Lucero. Heavy Years: 2000-2010 draws from the four albums he created during this period, and documents how Mills’ evolving production and musical ideas kept pace with his constantly developing song writing acumen.
Currently living in Brooklyn, NY, Mills has just finished mixing his upcoming album, Aexandria, with Grammy-winning mix engineer Rayn Freeland (Joe Henry, Ray LaMontagne, Aimee Mann)