Killing Us With Attitude 

VV and Hotel are The Kills. VV is American and boasts a big smoldering voice, drenched with sweat, sex and a knowing quality that belies her 23 years. Hotel is English and he adds bed head, VU guitar and attitude.

He plays the drums and many other things on record. On the last tour he played to his own pre-recorded drums. They put out a great EP entitled Black Rooster in 2002 that was one of the best releases of the year, and now they are touring behind their full length debut Keep on Your Mean Side, making good on the promise that was inherent in their first EP.

Keep on Your Mean Side is an exercise in tension and release, of stretching something until it nearly brakes. It sounds like it was recorded in a garage in 1960, the opposite of today's antiseptic digital recordings. Mean Side sounds live and there are moments of white noise when a vocal gets too hot. The band specializes in a kind of smart sexuality, and the music is all kick-ass, dirty, sexy, fuzzy guitar noise and naughty vocals. The album fits with the current "garage rock" revival, though this is most likely not deliberate.

VV's forceful delivery calls to mind early PJ Harvey, mingled with Carla Bozulich from the Geraldine Fibbers with a little Debora Lyall from Romeo Void thrown in for good measure. Having said this, she sounds like none of these distinctive singers; her voice is clearly her own creation. Hotel seems to unconsciously understand what made bands like Royal Trux and the Velvet Underground work. His deceptively simple guitar choices make a spaced out Fuzzy backdrop for VV's singing.

The limitations of a duo actually help the band to form their sound, creating a kind of call and response between broken sounding guitars and VV's hot voice. While Hotel ably sings a couple of the tracks, the vocals work best with his voice a compliment to hers. The guitars and vocals loop hypnotically around the backbone beats colored nicely with sporadic bass, keyboards and random noises. The whole recording is imbued with dynamic sexual tension between the music and VV's vocals.

When The Kills were last in Arizona they preformed on a sweltering July night at Modified in Phoenix. The 30 or so shoegazers that turned out for the show were forced to actually move their bodies as the heat and the energy from the band combined to create a furious force.

VV evoked perhaps real Heroin Chic, smoking and stomping the floor with her cowboy boots. Starting out shy with her hair over her eyes, by shows end she morphed in a whirling dervish. She rolled around on the floor, sweat flew off her hair when particularly possessed, and the whole time Hotel stared hard off into space and played his guitar.

More by Jonathan Bond


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