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 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
The Kills
No Wow
Rough Trade/RCA

Rating: 8.5/10 ?


March 8, 2005
The gloves are off on The Kills' second full-length, No Wow. It is a bare-knuckled, bluesy, post-punk brawl that's even more Spartan than its stripped down predecessor, Keep On Your Mean Side. It hits you flush on the jaw, making bone on bone contact.

Gone is the guitar reverb that at least cushioned the blow a little. In its place are austere drum machine beats - among other minimalist percussive oddities - and unusual guitar tunings covered in mangy fur. Instead of a Parents' Advisory sticker, No Wow should come with this warning: "Don't pet the animals."

In The Kills, guitarist Jamie Hince goes by the name of Hotel. Fleabag is more like it. Though his riffs sound a little cleaner and more concise, they're still as lowdown and dirty as the unwashed dishes sitting in a trailer park whore's sink.

With its simple, menacing chords, "Dead Road 7" is as dangerous as a mean drunk threatening his cowering wife with his belt. VV, A.K.A. Alison Mosshart, sounds like the daughter who's found her daddy's gun and isn't going to stand for him hurting her mother anymore. Harrowing tension builds in her voice the way it does with P.J. Harvey on Rid Of Me, especially on "I Hate The Way You Love (Part II)."

Hotel's been cribbing from Harvey's early work as well. Like Harvey, he doesn't fill the space with unnecessary notes. His playing is economical and stark, making for a vaguely unsettling mood that you'd sense in a room full of gangsters who know that one of their own is going to get whacked. The growl of Hotel's art-punk guitar wrangling in "Murderville" puts on a hockey mask and slashes you with knifing rhythms. It's as dark as a murderer's mind and full of evil thoughts.

Not everything is sinister and frightening. Though tense and nervy, like Sleater-Kinney, "The Good Ones", with Hotel's fuzzed-out guitar squalls and what sounds like drumsticks hitting glass bottles, is instantly catchy. So is "At The Back Of The Shell," with its off-kilter rhythms and fading handclaps. And "Sweet Cloud" is The Kills approaching New Wave 80s pop and post-punk dance grooves with the intention of drowning them both in their own swampy blues stylings.

As was the case with Keep On Your Mean Side, the lyrics are somewhat cryptic, though they speak to the marginalized losers that are this close to losing it. In "Rodeo Town," VV adopts the persona of the other woman and is unapologetic for her sins, singing, "If I'm so evil, why are you satisfied?" It's a rhetorical question. We all know the answer.

And while VV is baring her soul, Hotel paints a deserted western saloon of sound. You expect to hear the creak of swinging doors and spurs jingling with every step a weather-beaten old gunfighter takes.

So much for the White Stripes comparisons. The Kills have completely destroyed all such connections to their distant cousins. No Wow has none of the sweetness or innocence of Jack and Meg White. It's a brutal record that changes you the same way prison changes a man.

Accuse them of nihilism if you must, but they're just showing you the seedy underbelly of rural America. It'll make you wince. It'll make you uncomfortable, much like Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska. Its insight into the minds of bad people, or good people who sometimes do awful things, is spot-on. Yet it also makes you feel for those caught in circumstances they can't escape. There is heart underneath that mean exterior. Revealing it doesn't make The Kills any less dangerous.

Reviewed by Peter Lindblad
Peter Lindblad lives in Appleton, Wis., and bleeds green and gold just like all the Packer fan nutjobs in the area. He does draw the line at wearing blocks of chedder on his head, or any other body parts for that matter, though. His professional career has taken weird twists and turns that have led him to his current position as an editor at a coin magazine. He hopes his stay there will be a short one. Before that, he worked as an associate editor at a log home magazine. To anyone that will listen, he\'ll swear that Shiner was one of the greatest rock bands to ever walk the earth. Yet he also has much love for Superchunk, Spoon, DJ Shadow, Swervedriver, Wilco, Fugazi, Jawbox, ... And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Modest Mouse, among others.

See other reviews by Peter Lindblad

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