At the beginning of 2015, things had never looked better for The Black Lillies. Winning legions of fans through relentless touring and riding a wave of critical acclaim, the band had already successfully surpassed their PledgeMusic fundraising goals, selected a producer and booked studio time to record their new album when frontman Cruz Contreras was hit with unexpected news: two of the group’s five members would be amicably moving on. Contreras contemplated the group’s future and faced down a looming deadline to finish writing the new album for a yet-to-be-determined lineup. “In the past, I might write a song once a month when I felt inspired, and at a much more leisurely pace,” explains Contreras, “but this time around, I realized I would have to write an entire record in two weeks before we hit the studio. I felt confident I could do it, but I also had no proof.” The proof is now etched into vinyl with ‘Hard To Please,’ the band’s fourth studio album. It’s an alternately rip-roaring and deeply intimate record, showcasing both Contreras’ lyrical evolution as a writer and a more sonically sophisticated side of the band than we’ve heard before. Whether it was due to the pressure of the ticking clock, the injection of creative energy from recording with new faces, or simply the steadfast desire of a hardworking band to always outdo themselves, the album stands as the finest yet in The Black Lillies’ outstanding catalog. When it came time to record, the bar had already been set high with the group’s previous releases, which were hailed as “buzzworthy, genre-mashing roots music” by Rolling Stone Country and praised everywhere from Vanity Fair and The Wall Street Journal to CMT and Entertainment Weekly. Their last album, 2013’s ‘Runaway Freeway Blues,’ climbed the Billboard country charts, landed on more than a dozen Best-Of lists, and dominated Americana radio, spending a whopping three months in the Top 5. The sound reflected their raucous live show, which prompted NPR’s Ann Powers to name them a top pick at SXSW, and has earned them festival slots from Bonnaroo to Stagecoach, as well as the honor of playing The Grand Ole Opry more than any other independent band in history.