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Aug 232013

review-of-our-wild-love-ep-uneven-beats-by-kisses-and-noiseWhen I reviewed “Low” some months ago I described it as falling somewhere between Muse and Depeche Mode. Uneven Beats continues in this new direction with veins of new wave, indie, and Top 40 twisting through the flexed, sinewy muscle of Brit-inspired alternative rock. Amid the bass, smothered in fuzz and distortion, thudding drums, twinkling keyboards, and layered waves of synthesizer, Crider defiantly belts, “They tied up my hands / They think that can hold me down.” Our Wild Love charges out of the gate and grabs you by the throat. It’s a new sound and they aren’t going to give you time to think about it.

Our Wild Love is Luis Mieja on guitar, Paul McCorkel on bass, and Duke Crider on vocals – all former members of Plain Jane Automobile. It’s basically PJA sans a drummer (Paul lays down some organic drumming here and there). As Crider puts it, “Our Wild Love is our new band. PJA is on permanent hiatus. James, our drummer, decided to leave PJA, so we sat down to discuss continuing as PJA or something else entirely. So two drum machines, some keyboards, and countless hours of learning and experimenting later, OWL was born.”

The music on Uneven Beats is stepped up from their successful previous band. It’s bolder, more daring – yet refined and mature. They’ve turned the corner as a group. McCorkel’s bassĀ hacks and chisels at the meter with such intensity that it steps up from behind the scenes and puts its signature on every song. Meija’s usual guitar heroics are subdued, weaving subtle tones intelligently between samples and synth lines. Crider’s lyrics are more potent and stirring too. “I’ll bite, and kick and scratch the door / Then turn to stone and sink below the sea / I’ll camp out on the ocean floor / Just to get a glimpse from underneath” and “Gorgeous and lovely / Still battered and ugly /Explosions in my chest / Slow me down enough to / Catch my breath” convey both angst and passion, walking the fine line between poetry and nonsense that make rock lyrics so great (and tricky). Those tracks – “Money” and “Sleepwalking” respectively – are brilliant. “Money” might be the most pop-y and upbeat. It shimmies and swaggers its way into your heart through your ears. I found myself whaling (screeching?), “Steady feeeeeet / Make uneven beeeeeeats / You’ll go running to the money / to the money.” The somber entrance of “Sleepwalking” feels like it could be The National. This song is big and has heart. It reminds me of Coldplay only in that they were able to create grand and sweeping pop with the simplest of moving parts.

Pull all of this together with subtle songwriting nuance, dress it up with top-notch production and Uneven Beats leaves the Orlando scene, injecting itself directly into the mainstream musical conversation. Little touches adorn this EP from head-to-toe giving it an incredible sheen. From the modulated voices at the beginning of “Low” and the seamless change of gears at the end of “Disappear” that moves it into a sloshing, sludgy electro rock jam to the slick, sentimental outro of “Sleepwalking,” Beats proves itself to be an excellent listen over and over again.

Listen AND buy Uneven Beats Now!

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Aug 162013

most-overlooked-kiss-songs-by-kisses-and-noiseKISS is at the Amway Center in Orlando tonight!

One could argue that everything KISS produced after 1985 was overlooked. I’m looking at a period when they ruled the world. They had so many albums between 1974 and 1980. Many of the songs that were staples then have fallen out of the repertoire, but at least they had their moment in the sun. I went looking for songs that I love that never really got any traction at the time of their release or since.

The first two albums are loaded with classic tunes that have since disappeared from the live set. Tracks like “Got to Choose,” “Let Me Go, Rock n Roll,” “She,” “Parasite,” “Watchin’ You,” “Rock Bottom,” “C’mon and Love Me,” “Let Me Know,” and “100,00 Years” don’t get played too much anymore, but can’t be considered overlooked. The songs such as “Strutter,” “Deuce,” “Firehouse,” “Black Diamond,” and “Hotter Than Hell” are still relevant and find their way into the setlist. The first song on the list is “Mainline” (I was tempted to go with “Strange Ways” because of its classic 70s rock feel) featuring Peter on vocals. Peter and Ace songs stand out more over time than some of the popular Gene and Paul songs. “Mainline” might have made the setlist in 1975, but it is hard to find many live versions of the song anywhere. The tune embraces the sort of 60s rock vibe that inspired KISS to begin with:

Following Destroyer (well the release of the single, “Beth”) KISS took over the planet. It would be hard to say anything on the late 70s albums was ignored, but “Do You Love Me” is so cool and never seems to make any favorite lists and I rarely see live footage of it. The opening anthemic drum line is what got me into the drums:

Another mega-album, 1977′s Rock ‘n Roll Over features what might be my favorite KISS song of all time. “Mr. Speed” just kicks ass. Although another brightly colored feather in their misogyny cap, it is just so damn cool and catchy with its T-Rex riffage that I’d expect to hear it more on satellite radio or even commercials. “Cause you ain’t enough lady / to keep the master satisfied” – now that’s some macho dick swinger-y right there:

“New York Groove” performed by Ace isn’t unknown either, but to me, it’s a big, big song. It’s actually a cover originally written by Brit rockers, Hello. It’s just more sincere coming a Bronx native. This is another one that should be in films and commercials more often. It’s the rock ‘n roll version of the love letter to New York City that Sinatra’s “New York, New York” is:

OK, I guess I’m not digging to deep with these, but I have to feature “Shandi” from 1980′s Unmasked. This is a single so it had support, but I think rock fans were so disillusioned and disgusted by the disco embrace of Dynasty that following it up with yet another disco-y, sugar-coated power pop groove had most everyone tune the fuck out. ‘Shandi” is equally lame as it is great. This will probably never get played again, but I can’t help but love the fact that it captures the late 70s so well and could easily be snuck into the soundtrack for Xanadu or Grease (maybe Grease 2) or something: