Billy Tibbals’ “Nightlife Stories” serves up glam rock with a modern twist

Tibbals outrageous Evil Knievel look on the Nightlife Stories cover, designed by Elliot Weaver, can perhaps be traced to his days as an amateur magician. Graphic by Jacob, used with permission.
Tibbal’s outrageous Evil Knievel look on the “Nightlife Stories” cover, designed by Elliot Weaver, can perhaps be traced to his days as an amateur magician. Graphic by Jacob, used with permission.

One word I could use to describe Billy Tibbals is fabulous. Connecting from Los Angeles, his outrageous curls almost made me believe he was one of the old glam rock stars he emulates. His second EP, Nightlife Stories, produced by the Black Crowes’ Chris Robinson, serves as a slightly cheekier follow-up to 2023’s articulate Stay Teenage

Tibbals’ stuff feels like it was ripped off a mixtape excavated from a shoebox time capsule. He insists he does not seek to emulate any specific era when writing, but that his influences naturally make his sound nostalgic—recently, he’s been on a big Beach Boys kick—and he doesn’t discriminate based on release date. His across-the-pond charm is seasoned with American cultural influence, which he says was integral to his current musical direction—had he not moved to Los Angeles at 14, he “would probably be making jazz fusion in North London.”

Like many independent musicians, Tibbals relishes found music. He recently acquired a one-inch sixteen track tape deck that came with the previous owner’s mixtape, which features mostly early Bee-Gees. Tibbals currently works at LA’s The Record Parlour (where he also performs). He draws inspiration from the odds and ends he finds in pre-loved vinyl bins as well as his obsession with classic film (his favorite directors are Frederico Fellini and Ken Russell) and musicals (anything with Cole Porter).

“The only musical experience I’ve had is a magical badger in a pantomime musical when I was maybe 10,” Tibbals said in an interview with The Review. “One of my goals is to make a movie musical—hopefully soon I’ll be able to get that moving.”

Tibbals is extremely high-energy. I imagine this has something to do with his knack for showmanship, which first presented itself when he began performing at birthday parties as an amateur magician. Shortly after he began booking gigs at age 10, he wrote his first song, called “Eating Bugs”—“we’ll have to release that one soon.” His enthusiasm shines in the video for Nightlife Stories’ single “Burn Out!,” which was directed by Tibbals’ friends from high school. I look forward to more of Tibbals’ endearing rumpus; he plans to release a full-length album later this year and will be touring with the Black Crowes this April. See the Black Crowes this Friday, April 5 at 713 Music Hall—Tibbals will be joining them starting April 8.

 

Lucy’s Track-by-Track Review

 

“Burn Out!”

When I first heard this, I thought: Kiss? Tibbals says this was his attempt at writing a Kiss Song. I enjoy the stripped drum intro—it sets a good meter for the rest of the song.

Rating: 4/5

 

“The World Revolves”

A frenzied reflection on the monotony of the everyday. The happy-go-lucky claps become something much more frantic, and Tibbals’ crazed falsetto makes “The World Revolves” a gem.

Rating: 4.5/5

 

Tibbal’s outrageous Evil Knievel look on the “Nightlife Stories” cover, designed by Elliot Weaver, can perhaps be traced to his days as an amateur magician. (Courtesy Fair Use)

“Out of Touch”

The rhythm guitar and pop-rock sound allude to some of the eighties’ best. This one’s relatable—I, too, often feel like I am more in tune with pop culture of other generations. It’s not my fault that, on the whole, their music’s production was better…

Rating: 3/5

 

“Nobody Knows”

This song is like if Queen wrote a theme song for a show—it reminds me of the Legends of Zelda cartoons they advertised on the Super Mario Bros. Super Show when I was little. I think this would be my favorite from the EP to hear live. Billy says his favorite to perform is his first single, “Onwards and Upwards,” which, funnily enough, has a B-side called “Lucy.”

Rating: 4/5

 

“I’ll Die”

This track’s sound and first lyrics “Mama told me never to / mess around with girls like you” remind me of Cheap Trick’s “Surrender.” It’s just as fun and perfect for dancing around your room.

Rating: 3/5

 

“Dream Away”

A lovely, heartfelt end to the EP, “Dream Away” reflects on the role of pop culture in our childhoods. For Tibbals, it was classic cinema and Broadway. For me, it was The Cars. Maybe one day a kid will find that kind of solace and inspiration in Billy.

Rating: 3/5

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Lucy Walker, Assistant Online Editor-in-Chief
Lucy Walker ('25) joined The Review in 2021 as a freshman. She likes Big Salads and her second favorite animal is a shark.

Comments (0)

All The Review Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *