MUSIC: The Kills

posted by dpm on 12/11/2008

Touted as the last great punk band, The Kills sound is a culmination of synth, goth, hard guitar riffs, and edgy lyrics spit by the guttery voice of American vocalist Alison Mosshart "VV" and band mate Jamie Hince "Hotel."

Mosshart was formally a member of the Florida punk band Discount. The two met when Mossart heard Hince's anarcho-punk band practicing upstairs from her hotel room. When the two former bands disbanded, the duo collided to form The Kills. In an effort to escape their previous music endeavors, the pair renamed themselves "VV" and "Hotel" and considered their new project year Zero in their careers.

In typical punk anti-establishment style, the two shunned offers from major record labels and recorded their first demo tape using minimalistic sound equipment, and photo booth imagery on the record sleeve.

Their first album was not a distant departure from their demo tape. Entitled "Keep Your Mean Side," the album was recorded on 8-track in Toe Rag Studios. This is the same studio where the White Stripes recorded "Elepahant", and critics still refer to the Stripes when describing the duo's sound. The Kills, however, discharge that reference, and more seasoned listeners will hear influences from PJ Harvey, Sonic Youth, LCD Soundsystem, and even Susie and the Banshees. The Kills and their music embody more of the dark sub-culture that was once called punk.

"Punk," is now used to reference pop boy bands like Blink 182, which inspire young snot bubblers to dumbly bounce their heads. Today's "punk" is no longer about unleashing contempt and feelings of desolation and despair. It is not used as a reference for the anti-careerist mentality so easily expressed by bands that pioneered the punk movement. However, The Kill's version of "punk" is a real reflection of that movement now buried by pop culture.

Now on their third album, The Kill's sound still reflects the grit of punk. Last Day of Magic is a song of loneliness and despair written by Jamie Hence that references Dostoyevsky's book "Crime and Punishment." It is the second single off their 2008 release "Midnight Boom." Check out Last Day of Magic and the first single off Midnight Boom entitled URA Fever here: