Rhythm & Views

Juliette and the Licks

Gosh, there are just so many similar-sounding bands--the Shins/Strokes/Stripes/Shits--reportedly bringing the rawk these days that it's hard to distinguish them. Part of the problem is these groups have better fashion sense than they do drummers.

From out of this rhythm-challenged maelstrom, however, comes Hollywood actress Juliette Lewis and her band the Licks with an album of pure punk-metal purpose. Sure, she delivered a pretty decent debut a few years back, but who knew she'd re-enter the fray armed with Dave Grohl, the Gen X answer to John Bonham?

Four on the Floor mops the floor with your ears before pulverizing them under the blunt edges of Grohl's sticks. He is always dynamic, whether on a Foo Fighters, Probot or Queens of the Stone Age tune. But with the Licks, he really cuts loose on tracks like "Hot Kiss," a dirty funk kiss-off that skidmarks the inside of your skull, and the soaring bubblegum angst of "Purgatory Blues." Of course, much of the credit goes to guitarist Todd Morse, who assembles a wildly diverse set of riffs, and Lewis, whose lyrics are fierce and funny: "Chomping on pussy like chewing gum," she snarls in the character assassination of "Killer." "Just another way to eat your young."

And if you still have doubt this CD kills, give a listen to razor-sharp rocker "Mind Full of Daggers" or dig into the sweet pop confection of "Sticky Honey." Lewis isn't merely embracing a rock career--she's soul-kissing it, tongue and everything.

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