Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Listening to Yuck, The Kills, and Kurt Vile... (thinking about Jack White)...

Yuck (UK-based), self-titled debut album, on US-indie Fat Possum, formerly known as a blues label, home to the late great R.L. Burnside (introduced to the indie world by Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and later featured on "The Sopranos"), Fat Possum has also released albums by The Black Keys and Wavves and recently announced they will soon release the new Spiritualized album.

Saw Yuck open last February for label-mates The Smith Westerns. Didn't know what to make of them at first, but they grew on me, and we couldn't help but notice the excellent guitar work of Max (the other Max, in The Smith Westerns, is a fine guitarist as well). They sound great on the album too. Give it a listen today!

The Kills, a two-piece featuring (American) Alison on vocals and (British) Jamie on guitar (and vocals). The Kills had been on hiatus while Alison recorded and toured with Jack White's The Dead Weather, and Jamie became a UK-tabloid fixture (I was going to add "regrettably" but who knows? maybe he's having fun with it)  due to his relationship with supermodel (and UK tabloid obsession, or should I say, "obsession for middle-aged guys who write for UK tabloids"?) Kate Moss (please insert your own gratuitous comment here about Kate Moss' sex life with rock stars. Two words for Jamie to think about: "Pete. Doherty."). This album, "Blood Pressures", their fourth, (on UK's Domino, home to Franz Ferdinand & Arctic Monkeys), makes up for lost time with a vengeance.

Saw The Kills in 2008 at San Francisco's Treasure Island Festival. He played guitar, she smoked a lot, stalked the stage like a caged panther (wait, i'm trying to include every cliche about them, give me a minute), and spit out some nasty blues and otherwise let us know she was disgusted with us, her lovers, and the world. I wasn't that impressed. I had come to see Jack White's Raconteurs (who were great, of course) and had already seen Spiritualized (who blew me away with "Songs From A&E"), Vampire Weekend (I know they are good - and popular - but i still can't get over their preciousness - maybe i'll give them another try sometime...), Tegan & Sara (great!), and Dr. Dog (i thought they didn't live up live to the hype, at least on that day, but have liked some of their recordings i've heard since). You can only handle so much music at these festivals.

[Treasure Island Festival does have killer views of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge, especially at night. I didn't care for the line-up last year, but let's see what they offer us this year.... also curious about the line-up for Outside Lands 2011 in Golden Gate Park in August.]

Later i listened to some Kills recordings and liked them. then i saw alison with the dead weather various times (at outside lands and 3 times in Manhattan in 2009, and at coachella, new mexico, and brooklyn in 2010). i became a Believer.

i was skeptical at first - i mean, having one of the best guitarists in the world stuck behind the drum kit, and having a cigarette-smoking banshee as the front person of the band didn't strike me as a winner (more like an alternate universe inverse version of The White Stripes). Besides, what about The White Stripes? Or The Raconteurs? (Or The Kills, for that matter?) Would The Dead Weather be the death of those other bands? Would we never see Jack White play guitar (and those great songs) again??? Well, word spread soon (fortunately) that Jack White DID sing and play guitar for a song or two during each set (inevitably highlights of the show).

Well, now we know that The White Stripes are no more and it doesn't seem like The Raconteurs are going to be playing any shows anytime soon either. Too bad. They had great songs, and it was great to see jack with a full band (no disrespect to Meg, but a two-piece is limited by definition. Suffice it to say The White Stripes did more with two people than some bands do with dozens). The Raconteurs included The Greenhornes' Jack Lawrence on bass (he's plays bass in The Dead Weather too, and subs for Jack White on the drums when White sings/plays guitar on Them/Van Morrison's "You Just Can't Win", and "Will There Be Enough Water?") and Queens of the Stone Age's Dead Fertita on keyboards (he plays guitar & keys in The Dead Weather as well). also, jack had great chemistry with co-leadsinger/songwriter/guitarist Brendan Benson.

But, ahem, speaking of great chemistry.... freakin' Jack White and Alison.... sometimes looked like they were going to either swallow or strangle each other every night or finally just screw right there on stage, especially during the extended set piece "Will There Be Enough Water?" featuring a duet between the two and a couple of explosive Jack White guitar solos.

After seeing Alison's command of the stage, any doubts about her ability to lead a band, be it The Dead Weather or The Kills, vanished in the breeze like stale pot smoke after you open the window on a windy day (or so i've been told).

So a warm and hearty "Welcome Back!" to The Kills. Great new album. Looking forward to the tour.

Kurt Vile. Oops. Sorry, I got on a Jack White rant up there. I guess that means that Kurt Vile gets the short end of the stick here. But I don't really have much to say about him (yet). I know he's from Philly and I saw him open up for Conor Oberst in LA in 2009 and i wasn't moved. He's gotten lots of good press and listening to this album ("Smoke Ring for My Halo"), i can see why. it sounds good and i'm going to give it a good listen today. along with The Kills and Yuck.

Such good music coming out these days!

....really curious about this italian spaghetti-western-inspired record by danger mouse, norah jones, and jack white coming out in May ("Rome")... sounds really interesting.... and will we EVER hear those songs that Jack did with Jay Z?  They would be cool if only as curiosity pieces.  i mean, i would buy a record of those two talking about basketball (or at least download it)....

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