Alison Mosshart

THE KILLS: DOING IT TO DEATH
April 27, 2016 11:00 am

The Kills still make music, apparently.

Ashe & Ice, their 5th full-length album, will drop via Domino Records on June 3rd. Fifth album? It’s interesting how bands and their music are often boiled down to just their bare essentials. Everything else evaporates like water vapor. I wasn’t even aware of 2011’s Blood Pressures existence. Thankfully, I don’t feel left out at all, but don’t take my bluntness as an insult. For me, two Kills records should be stamped and enshrined for propelling “indie” into mainstream consciousness: 2005’s No Wow, and 2008’s Midnight Boom. The Kills and contemporaries helped push the aesthetic of ‘indie rock’; a term that now describes a type of band and how they dress and showcase their art, than the kind of label charged with distributing their music. The Kills defined an indispensable era of music when hipness, was sacred.  And shallow.  Expression didn’t require action-driven results; just a fake leather jacket and can of Pabst Blue Ribbon.  We blasted The Kills in our dingy dilapidated habitation and wanted nothing more than to attain the decrepit authenticity of Alison “V.V.” Mosshart and Jamie “Hotel” Hince. Tracks like “Cheap & Cheerful“, “No Wow“, “Tape Song“, “U R A Fever“, “Sour Cherry“, were on high-rotation at those painfully awkward indie dance parties.

The Kills are a male/female two-piece that showcased their gritty appropriation of garage rock with nervous energy and an agitating display of sexual tension. They were fashionistas. They were purveyors of antiquated technology (their earliest collaborations involved mailing and exchanging ‘tapes’ with each other). Sound Pretentious? You wouldn’t be alone in your conviction. The Kills are a polarizing outfit. While always attracting a loyal following of devotees, other’s detested them as a White Stripes rip-off. And while the White Stripes did share the male/female guitar rock dichotomy, the Kills quickly defined their own sonic pallet: scratchy guitar, barren drum machine, and dry minimalism in the tradition of The Velvets and Suicide. The Kills might have borrowed from their idols, but they made it all their own.

In a recent interview Alison Mosshart claimed their next album will be “completely different“,  but I’m not convinced. Building up to Ashe & Ice, The Kills have released a pair of new singles with accompanying music videos: “Heart of a Dog“, and “Doing it to Death.” Neither of these tunes are bad. But I can’t help but think the latter of these two tracks defines what the Kills are doing with their music at this point. Indie rock, is like, so last decade, man. Look, no one’s frowning on you if you’re salivating over this upcoming record. Nor do they have any right too. Music judginess sucks, but it’s hard to shake off, we get it. I’m not a revered audiophile, I’ve never stepped inside a professional recording studio. Yet here’s the final score: my untuned ears are either having a horribly difficult time picking out the minutia that make up their “completely different” sound, or it’s just not there. And if it’s not, that’s perfectly fine. But don’t claim to be reinventing yourself when you’re really just trying to give us the same thing in fresh packaging.What once sounded fresh, and epitomized “cool”, now sounds dated. The Kills have stretched their garage rock sound far enough: They’re doing it to death.

If you’re one of the aforementioned Kills devotees, you’d best catch them live before they go back into hibernation (or go to Europe for the duration of their tour schedule).

THE KILLS: WHEN DOING IT TO DEATH IS A GOOD THING
April 13, 2016 11:04 am

The Kills came out with their first new single in 4 years last month.

It’s about damn time.

And the good news is “Doing it to Death” is sick. The new album Ash & Ice is slotted for a June 3rd release, and if their single is anything to base it off, we should be in for a treat.

Furthermore, their live show is straight bitchin.

Alison Mosshart (who you may know through her work with Jack White & The Dead Weather) and Jamie Hince have been working together since 2001 and it shows. They share an onstage chemistry that is truly infectious. These two clearly enjoy not just performing, but performing together. While Mosshart puts on a clinic of “How to Behave as a Lead Singer When Not Singing,” Hince plays the part of “the Rest of the Band.” Yes, The Kills do perform with a backing bassist and drummer, but the songs are still built around Hince’s ability to blend tones and textures into exciting songs. Mosshart brought a fiendish energy to the room with her vocals, and the two stomped all over the stage of Exit/In in Nashville.

Possibly the most refreshing aspect of the show was that it dispelled a slight worry about the new album. It’s evident that The Kills have moved a little out of the punk world and more into the indie one throughout their career. This is not an inherently bad thing, and frequently a band’s best work can occur at some point along this sliding scale, rather than at one end of it (see: Blood Sugar Sex Magik). But “Doing It To Death” could give some Kills fans pause. Simply put, it’s catchier than some of their older stuff. Emphasis on some. The Kills are no stranger to electronics – they started their career accompanied only by a drum machine. While some of the synth work may be a bit more forward in the mix, the effect is no different from that of the guitars on “Future Starts Slow,” the most successful song off their last record, Blood Pressures. And if you don’t think The Kills make catchy danceable songs, then you haven’t listened to “Getting Down” off 2008’s Midnight Bloom. Put it on now and thank me later.

The point here is not “The Kills make great catchy danceable tunes so why are you worried about them just doing that?” The point is that The Kills have always made great catchy danceable tunes in addition to the bluesy punky guitar and vocal centric tunes that they do SO well. They have no plans to let go of this side of their music, which they showed by performing songs like “Kissy Kissy” off their first album, 2003’s Keep On Your Mean Side. As much of their set was dedicated to getting the crowd moving, probably more was dedicated to getting the crowd feeling.

The Kills have been writing and performing together for 15 years. They are not getting worse at either of those things. They may continue to embrace a more centric style and production, but better that than forcing an aesthetic that is played out. The Kills continue to grow and evolve as a rock band, and we should all be excited for their next step.

kills

The Dead Weather Are Set To “Dodge & Burn”
July 6, 2015 11:44 am

The Dead Weather officially announce their new album Dodge & Burn out in September on Third Man Records worldwide.

The third Dead Weather LP will feature eight brand new songs, along with the four previously released 7” tracks from Vault Packages #18 and #21 remixed and remastered. Dodge & Burn is sure to satisfy you with their dark magic that is The Dead Weather. 

The Dead Weather

Third Man Records and The Dead Weather have also announced Vault Package #25 which will be the ONLY special, limited edition version of the new album and will arrive the same week as the standard album release in September. The Dodge & Burn Vault Package will include: a limited edition Dodge & Burn LP pressed on ‘Inclement Weather’ vinyl housed in a soft-touch embossed sleeve featuring metallic ink and a Vault-exclusive alternate cover designed by Rob Jones with a limited edition bonus poster inside, the only physical 7” of the upcoming new single from Dodge & Burn on yellow vinyl with black debris, and a deck of custom Dead Weather playing cards designed by Silent Giants featuring the band members as the King, Queen, Jack and Joker.

Subscriptions for Vault Package #25 are open until July 31st, visit here for more information and to sign up now! If you need a reminder of what you’re in for, here are some clips of the previously released tracks from the upcoming album

“Dodge & Burn” serves as the follow-up to the bands 2010’s Sea of Cowards.

The bands press release stated, White, singer Alison Mosshart, guitarist Dean Fertita, and bassist Jack Lawrence “spent their rare and sporadic free moments over the past year recording together in Nashville. With the members of the band heavily involved in other projects, The Dead Weather will not be touring in support of the new album.”

Well that is a bummer!  At least Mr. White left us with some tracks to sink our teeth into.