The Aislers Set emerged in 1998 as the solo vehicle of San Francisco songwriter Amy Linton, fresh out of her tenure with noisy pop group Henry's Dress and eager to find a new outlet for her ever expanding ideas. First album Terrible Things Happen sprouted up almost immediately after the band came into existence. The vast majority of the 14 songs were written, recorded, and performed almost entirely by Linton in her garage studio, though friends who would later become permanent members in the band, such as drummer Yoshi Nakamoto and bassist Alicia Vanden Heuvel, stopped by to help on some tunes. The Aislers Set would ultimately progress over the course of their short lifespan to more orchestrated second album The Last Match and their gloriously composed 2003 swan song How I Learned to Write Backwards, but Terrible Things Happen finds the band still in a very fresh, embryonic state. Linton's penchant for '60s influences that would manifest in Forever Changes-caliber cerebral chamber folk later down the line was more focused on sharp mod pop sounds during tunes like "I've Been Mistreated" and "Long Division." Elsewhere, folk-rock jangle, Wall of Sound reverb, and fuzzy experimentation sit nicely beside a few songs that showcase Linton alone with just soft guitar strums and a few tracks of her own vocals. Particularly hazy is "Cocksure Whistler," while the similarly mellow "Jaime's Song" upgrades the arrangement with bright bells and spare percussion sounding from a distance. Though the least fully developed set of Aislers Set songs, Terrible Things Happen is a strong collection nonetheless, gathering together the raw materials of Linton's knack for homespun production, heartbreaking melodies, and unexpected songwriting twists that would just get stronger and stronger as the band marched on.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas