Monday, May 4th, 2009

Fried Your Little Brains

Review of The Kills' Keep On Your Mean Side reissue and giveaway

Photo via thekills.tvthekills.tvWhile I’m very much on record as believing The Kills’ 2008 release Midnight Boom to be a superb album, I’m sure part of that was due to the fact that it was the first Kills record I’d heard. Their reputation to that point was as a garage-blues-scuzz-punk rock duo and that’s not generally my thing, so discovering them to be – at least on that record – all those things but also exceedingly pop was a most pleasant surprise. But this shift in direction, while garnering new fans like myself, probably cost them some as well. Such is the karmic balance of the universe. And with the reissue tomorrow of their debut album Keep On Your Mean Side, The Kills that those long-time fans fell in sleazy lust with is fully on display.

Whereas Boom had me wondering how the duo would recreate all the sounds and textures in a live setting (answer: quite well), there’d have been almost no such question circa Mean Side. Besides some basic drums, Mean Side is all about VV, Hotel, two guitars and a healthy dose of sneering attitude. The prevailing aesthetic is loose and raw, like delta blues by way of The Velvet Underground, and made noteworthy by Jamie Hince and Alison Mosshart’s remarkable presence. The songs aren’t all that memorable individually, but collectively they create a definite atmosphere – gritty, grimy and driving – and while what they’re doing isn’t exactly fresh, their execution and charisma commands attention.

Or it did, circa 2003. Since then, The Kills have taken their sound and gone downtown, less juke joint and more nightclub but most importantly, still seedy. I’m not sure what the impetus for this reissue is, and according to this interview with neither does Hince, but the most obvious answer is to capitalize on the success of Boom and perhaps get new fans to pick up the old stuff and use the five bonus tracks to reel in some of the older ones. To the former, it’s far enough removed from where they are now to offer another fix while waiting for album four and to the latter, five extra tracks – one new song, one dictaphone piece and three covers – probably isn’t enough to justify the expenditure but either way, there it is.

The Kills are at The Phoenix on Thursday night, May 7, and courtesy of Against The Grain and Outside Music, I’ve got one prize pack to give away consisting of a pair of passes to the show and copies of both Midnight Boom and the Keep On Your Mean Side reissue on CD to give away. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want The Kills” in the subject line and your full name and mailing address in the body. Contest closes at midnight tomorrow night, May 5.

And for this week only, PitchforkTV is streaming the 2005 Kills tour documentary I Hate The Way You Love.

MP3: The Kills – “Black Rooster”
MP3: The Kills – “Cat Claw”
Video: The Kills – “Fried My Little Brains”
Video: The Kills: I Hate The Way You Love
MySpace: The Kills

Ear Farm and Billboard interview Thomas Mars of Phoenix, who will release Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix on May 29 and follow that up with a show at The Phoenix on June 15.

Each Note Secure talks to Aaron Pfenning of Chairlift.

Blurt, Rolling Stone and Entertainment Weekly talk to Flaming Lip Wayne Coyne about the absurd controversy over their “Do You Realize?” being named the Oklahoma state song.

Beirut’s Zach Condon gives Filter a guide of Santa Fe, New Mexico. They have a date at the Phoenix on July 9.

If you didn’t know, the June 12 Malajube show at Lee’s Palace is free, tickets at Rotate This and Soundscapes and also at the door. Don’t ask why, just go.

The Brother Kite continue to work on the much-anticipated follow-up to Waiting For The Time To Be Right, and a sneak preview of some of the new material in progress can be heard at Bandcamp. And unsurprisingly, it sounds marvelous.

New York Magazine and Decider interview Natasha Khan of Bat For Lashes.

Deer Tick have a date at the Horseshoe for July 17. Their new album Born On Flag Day is due out June 23.

MP3: Deer Tick – “Easy”

This tweet from Labrador certainly seems to imply that we’ll see a new EP from The Radio Dept this Summer in advance of the release (fingers crossed) of Clinging To A Scheme this Fall. Alls I know is that in less than two weeks, I’m going to be in New York City to see the reclusive Swedes live for the first time and I am stoked. And also for Shake Shack. Stoked for Radio Dept and Shake Shack. And Coney Island. I think I’m going to go to Coney Island.

Still not sure if I’m going to make it out to see Thao With The Get Down Stay Down at the Bowery Ballroom the night I get in, though. Will play that one by ear. There’s an interview with her at the Idaho Statesman.

The National Post has an extensive feature piece on Scott Pilgrim, both the comic and the film, and gets creator Bryan Lee-O’Malley to identify and annotate various locales around Toronto that play roles in the comic and will, presumably, make appearances in the film. Filming is ongoing around the city right now and video blog entries on the film’s website now number four.

And a reminder that the Toronto Comic Arts Festival will take place this coming weekend at the Toronto Reference Library at Yonge and Bloor (another Pilgrim location!) and feature appearances from both Lee-O’Malley and Phonogram artist Jamie McKelvie. Issue two of The Singles Club finally came out last week, by the way, and was worth the wait though that shouldn’t be taken as permission for issue three to take another five months to put together, no sir.

By : Frank Yang at 8:08 am
Category: Contests

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

RSS Feed for this post4 Responses.
  1. MB77 says:

    For The Kills, I think it was their lazy life performances that discouraged their fans.


  2. mike says:

    Hey Frank,

    Both Rotate This and Soundscapes say they don’t have tickets for the Malajube show at Lee’s Palace. Where did you find out that they were giving out tickets?

  3. Frank Yang says:

    the malajube free-ness is noted on the promoter website:

    I can only assume that the tickets will be available closer to the show…?

  4. Bruce says:

    A little late adding this, but the Scott Pilgrim shoot continues in my hood; they’ve taken over the Goodwill store on St. Clair West (between Vaughan and Christie) and are there until Wednesday.