Chris Mills started out in the '90s in Collinsville, Illinois, where he soaked up some of the same country and punk influences as his better-known near neighbors Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy. Mills, though, put them to radically different uses. The wail of his voice and the desperation of his songwriting recall Paul Westerberg but, as collected on the new and admirably concise anthology Heavy Years: 2000-2010, his recordings reveal a winning love for the hocus-pocus of the studio. He channels the likes of Phil Spector, Neutral Milk Hotel and the Flaming Lips, but sounds like the mercilessly honest rock & roll whiz kid from the down the street. Songs like "Watch Chain" and "Suicide Note" still come across as beautiful warnings of an under-appreciated talent.
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