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The Kills


Any male/female Rock duo seemingly always gets compared to the White Stripes. Vocalist Alison Mosshart and guitarist Jamie Hince of The Kills are a perfect example. But it doesn't always fit cleanly. Both Jack White and Hince ply Blues influenced riffs but in The Kills vocals are handled primarily by Mosshart - and there's no Meg White on drums. The Kills use a drum machine.

A veteran of the Florida Punk band Discount, Mosshart met the British born Hince pretty much by chance. They were staying in the same hotel and Mosshart heard Hince rehearsing and struck up a relationship.

When their respective groups bit the dust the two began writing songs together but apart - Mosshart in Florida and Hince in the U.K. They mailed work tapes back and forth across the Atlantic until Mosshart finally upped and relocated to London. There they renamed themselves "W" (Mosshart) and "Hotel" (Hince) and began recording their lo-fi, minimalist compositions. "Restaurant Blouse" appeared on the compilation "If The Twenty-First Century Did Not Exist, It Would Be Necessary To Invent It." That led to the "Black Rooster" EP which found distribution in both the U.K. and U.S.

The Kills rolled out their full-length debut "Keep On Your Mean Side" in '03. Mosshart's Punk look - long straight black hair, black jacket, tee-shirt and jeans - perfectly accentuated The Kills' rough and tumble stage show that included her chain smoking, occasional vomiting (probably due to the chain smoking - as well as other factors).





Two years later, The Kills unfurled "No Wow." From that set, the track "The Good Ones" just missed the U.K. Top 20. And though the album failed to crack the U.K. Top 50 (and not even that good in the U.S.), the group gained notoriety. Namely, "Wait" (from "Keep On Your Mean Side") was used in the '06 film Children Of Men and both "Wait" and "Cat Claw" (also from "Keep On Your Mean Side") were heard in an '07 episode (titled "Doubt") of the CBS drama Criminal Minds.

The group's third studio album, "Midnight Boom," landed in early '08. If you did a Google search on Hince at the time you would have found him inexorably linked to actress Kate Moss. Sadly, that was the extent some knew about either Hince or The Kills, though songs from the album were used on several TV shows including Gossip Girl and House.

Mosshart raised her profile significantly when she joined The Dead Weather in '08. Easily the most famous member was Jack White, of White Stripes and The Raconteurs fame. Mosshart had in fact worked with The Raconteurs previously. The Dead Weather released "Horehound," in '09, and "Sea Of Cowards," a year later.

The Kills began work on their fourth album in the fall of '09, and by April, '10, Mosshart said it was just about done. "I'm going to go back after this tour with The Dead Weather and finish it," she said. "We've been on schedule… {but} record labels will always take their time with things."

In January, '11, Mosshart announced the album was finally finished. "Blood Pressures," with lead single "Satellite," dropped the following April.

The Kills Discography

Full-Length Albums:

2003 Keep On Your Mean Side
2005 No Wow
2008 Midnight Boom
2011 Blood Pressures

EPs:

2002 Black Rooster
2003 Fried My Little Brains
2005 Run Home Slow
2009 Black Balloon

The standard tuning for a guitar is E, A, D, G, B and E. As far as Hince is concerned, those last two high strings might as well not exist. His down and dirty guitar is the perfect underpinning for Mosshart's expressive and piercing vocals.

"Midnight Boom" opens with the moody of "U.R.A. Fever." It's a disarming tune in that is doesn't make an immediate impact but proves difficult to shake. Things pick up with the thumping bass line of "Cheap And Cheerful" before rolling through the sharp cool of "Tape Song." "Last Day Of Magic" nods toward T-Rex while "Black Balloon" has hand-claps and change-up intimacy. "Alphabet Pony" with a "pink plastic Jesus on the dashboard" has a hypnotic drive.

But The Kills are a band best unleashed. "What New York Used To Be" is potent guitar Rock. "Hook And Line" displays their Punk roots and "M.E.X.I.C.O. C.U." is a head-on noise blast.

"No Wow" has "The Good Ones," probably the group's best song to date. It simply kicks it out. "Rodeo Town," surprisingly and effectively, uses Country embellishments to get across. The torrid "I Hate The Way You Love Me Parts I & II" and the stripped down (no drums) "Deep Road 7" make an impression but the rest of the album is merely OK.

While "Keep On Your Mean Side" probably wouldn't have garnered much attention without The White Stripes' prior trailblazing, this set is notably different in that it has more of an edge with the regretful yet trance-inducing "Wait" and the sassy grind of "Cat Claw" (both tracks are also on "Black Rooster").

The minimalist noise continues on "Blood Pressure." And despite Mosshart's stints with The Dead Weather, this album proves that The Kills is really her day job. She and Hince nail it - even on the ballads (Mosshart's "The Last Goodbye" and "Hince's "Wild Charms").


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