Last updated by at .

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 bass 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!

Our Wild Love on social media:




Mar 212013

The Sharp ThingsThe great thing about being a collective is the breadth of talent you can incorporate into an eclectic sound. The flip side to that is you can come across incongruous and lacking focus. NYC chamber pop collective, The Sharp Things, walk a fine line between good band and interesting promo sampler.

The 99% need a theme, an anthem. I’ve been waiting for a resurgence of real punk rock; furious earsplitting guitar with whipsaw drums and lyrics that articulate the angst of the growing poor and disappearing middle class. There is a royal ass-fucking being had by all at the hands of an “elite” few working in fascist collusion with government. Debt is created to drive an insane war machine and make a small few mind-bogglingly wealthy while wiping out the rest of us. What was once a conspiracy theory is out in the open daring us to do anything about it. We need a rallying cry and although not punk, “Blame the Bankers” is the closest thing I’ve heard yet besides that Ron Paul song.

From there, TST move all over the place. “Here Comes the Maestro” is something like Power Station; an 80s power pop song. The sweet “Flowers for my Girl” has a bubblegum, 60s, Herman’s Hermits sound. TST puts a stamp on Green is Good with “Lights.” This was the first song I heard and it struck me with its “Eminence Front” meets Doves feel. And I don’t know why, but “Goodbye to Golders Green” sounds like a Dr. Feelgood era Crue power ballad played by The Replacements with a horn section. Make sense? I thought so.

Green is Good is drenched in keys, horns, strings, and vocal harmonies that expand the scope of traditional pop sounds. Every song may sound like a different band, but in a world with its iPod on shuffle it may be perfect.

Listen to Green is Good and Buy It!

Mar 042013

david_byrne-st._vincent-review_by_kisses_and_noiseThis came out of left field for me. I’m sure the union of David Byrne and St. Vincent got a lot of press but I didn’t see it. The idea of these two working together was enough for be to buy the record sight unseen (sound unheard?). This is a phenomenal collaboration. I can’t say much more than it sounds like exactly like what you’d think David Byrne and Annie Clark together would sound like; fun, funky, weird, slightly dark but in a playful way, progressive and rockin’. It’s haunting in it’s modest brilliance. I really could pick any song from Love This Giant and get your attention.


Dinner for Two” is a clear example of the two musical worlds colliding:

Listen to Dinner for Two

They trade lead singing duties on most of the songs coming together in harmonies and backing vocals. “Lazarus” is the only true duet:

Listen to Lazarus

Buy Love This Giant on iTunes. Do it!

Jan 212013

Cover of the Tiger Lillies album, Either OrWhat do the macabre champions of gypsy cabaret and a 19th century existential poet/ philosopher/ theologian have in common? A nagging existential angst? Maybe. Or is it that The Tiger Lillies’ new album, Either Or, is titled after and inspired by Soren Kierkegaard’s famous eponymous book? The record works two-fold: first to explore the themes and musings from the Dutch philosopher, and second to create a story serving as the libretto for the subsequent stage show about a shady Shanghai nightclub circa 1937.

Either Or begins with the cheeky, almost fun “Blood Alley.” It comes across like Vaudevillian hip-hop – or possibly the theme song to a wildly inappropriate children’s show – with its lilted backbeat and catchy singsong narrative about the urban underbelly. This may be the “funnest” song in the lot – a slight departure for The Lillies – as the rest of the album plays out somber, heavy and dark. It also sets the scene for THE EITHER/OR CABARET:

“THE EITHER/OR CABARET takes place in a nightclub in Shanghai in 1937, where Chinese and Europeans live their dreams. Outside the city swarms with enemies. Should the nightclub patrons stay or flee?”

This brief description of the play is an existential parable in itself. Stay and enjoy the comfort of vice at your own risk or bravely break away and build a new life?


Listen to Blood Alley

Kierkegaard’s perspective is woven into the story instantly by exploring the perils of hedonism and relaying morality tales in a series of anecdotal songs. Either/Or, as its original written work, explores the Aesthete vs. the Ethicist or the pursuit of pleasure vs. a pursuit of morality and altruism. Songs like “Nothing is Sin” and “Gutter” are pure, sick Tiger Lillies embrace of the dark and seedy. “The lowest things normal are / You’re giving blowjobs in their cars / In their cars / You take it all / You smile and laugh / As they stick it up your ass / Up your ass.” From this perspective, the album seems to focus on Kierkegaard’s Either more so than the Or as it underscores the aesthetic or pursuit of instant gratification.

Other songs investigate broader themes of the Dutch philosopher. The brooding piano ballad, “Boredom” speaks to the assertion that being bored is the genesis of evildoing. Kierkegaard noted, “Boredom is the root of all evil – the despairing refusal to be oneself.” Martyn Jacques of the Lillies sings, “I would be happy, but need a thrill / Give me a whore, give me a pill / Give me a war for which to fight / Give me a bank to rob tonight / From boredom each evil thought is formed / Boredom, the devil’s spawn.”

“Innocence” addresses the flipside of boredom as a young, drug-addled prostitute dreams of another life, bored from the pleasures of sin: “Sometimes as they stick it in / I get bored from all this sin.”  This dark, fragile story is followed immediately by “Sailor,” sung from the trick or john’s perspective; “She licks my cock / It’s kind of sad / As an actress / I suppose she’s bad / She’s done it all / 10 times before / And that is only / Today I’m sure.”

Musically, the album has all the marks of the Tiger Lillies with Adrian Stout’s clean, punchy stand-up bass and tricks with his bow, clever percussion (sans Adrian Huge this time), and the addition of multi-instrumentalist, David Coulter (The Pogues, Radiohead, Tom Waits) who helps create atmospherics with banjo, uke and violin, nose flute, jew’s saw, weeping saws, maracas, ominchord and clackamore. Then there is Martyn Jacques‘ cockney falsettos and growls accompanied by harmonium, piano, and his trademark accordion. An insidious accordion, recognized as traditional and innocuous, lures the listener by legitimizing the music and softening the blow of the content.

TTL again manage to take lofty themes from the humanities, turn them inside out so their guts show, creating dark and clever theater with their unique musical interpretations as the backbone. It might be hard to associate the works of a theologian like Soren Kierkegaard with such a graphic and disreputable tale (especially with lines like “Fuck God up in heaven/ He isn’t all there/ He’s just an imposter / Behind beard and hair”), but it’s the examination of the “aesthetic” in human existence and ultimately, the awakening of the spirit to rescue the “single individual” from this life (or not) that plays with Kierkegaard’s themes.

Poster for Either Or Cabaret by the Tiger Lillies

A musical journey using the backdrop of a seedy Chinese opium den – and the twisted, dark souls that inhabit it as the characters – to delve into the themes of a 19th century philosopher / poet is pure Tiger Lillies. The release of the album and debut of the show coincide with the bicentennial celebration of Kierkegaard’s birth. The show will be playing in Shanghai, but luckily the album is available everywhere.



Happy Halloween! An Interview with Martyn Jacques of the Tiger Lillies

The Tiger Lillies in Concert from Jaeb Theater, Tampa

The Tiger Lillies “Snip Snip”

Jun 212012

Smashing Pumpkins album cover for OceaniaOceania has the Pumpkins sounding like a full band again, blending the hazy charm of Pisces Iscariot with the roaring pop of Zwan. The guitars are big on the first two tracks, “Quasar” and “Panopticon.” More than just layers of Billy’s own guitar, there is another axe working just as hard alongside him in Jeff Schroeder. Young Mike Byrne continues to fill the enormous shoes (figuratively speaking) of the mighty Jimmy Chamberlin nicely. Both of the first tracks display that incessant, driving pitter-patter – chugging drums that use fills and flourishes to propel the music and carry it from line to line – which is a Smashing Pumpkin signature. Byrne is able to accomplish this in his own style, paying homage to his predecessor without marring the legacy or being a slavish knock-off. Nicole Fiorentino’s bass lines hum melodically adding the most vibrance to BC’s tunes since Paz’s work on Mary Star of The Sea. Fiorentino lends depth to the SP wall of guitar that is usually only accompanied by Corgan’s follow-along-with-the-guitar style of bass playing. Her vocal presence also stands out as a shining bonus across the record. This has historically been an underutilized weapon in a line up that always has a chick in it.

“One Heart, One Diamond” opens with a chill wave-like synth intro that could easily belong to Washed Out sans the fact that it is actually a dynamic rock song. The near-epic title track allows the new band to sprawl and flex leaving an open-ended Floyd-ish outro that will lend itself nicely to live jams. Oceania seals the deal with the 1-2-3 attack of “The Chimera,” “Glissandra,” and “Inkless” to close the album. This record ripples and shimmers with ole Bill Corgan at the helm of a band that, from the sound of it, is all in.

   Listen to “Inkless”

Listen to Inkless

Mar 302012

bloody_jug_band-coffin_up_blood-album_art_kisses-and-noise-blogThe first time I saw the Bloody Jug Band was at Orlando Calling. Instantly, I was attracted to what seemed like an Outlaw Country meets Marilyn Manson approach. Their soon to be released Coffin Up Blood reveals much more than my early comparison denotes. Macabre themes are intertwined with the edgy country that embodies an outlaw vibe, but the music is more of an Appalachian horror story – like Bill Monroe joined The Misfits.

The songs are rooted in bluegrass tradition, delivered with rock attitude, and smeared with ghoulish themes. They do to bluegrass what Tiger Lillies do to cabaret: make it dark and visceral. The first track, “Graverobber Blues” stomps out of the gate with the usual bluegrass toolkit: guitar, mandolin, harmonica, washboard, and even a washtub bass, but the thudding backbeat and driving rhythm guitar add a modern rock dimension. The scene imparted is less about tracing her little footsteps in the snow and more about following a trail of blood through the swamp to a pile of corpses.

“Chained to the Bottom” is bolstered by the powerful backing vocals of Stormy Jean – one of the stronger contributors to this 7-piece band. Producer, Justin Beckler – one time member of Thomas Wynn & The Believers and producer for Matt Butcher and The Lonesome City Travelers to name a few, does an incredible job blending the large band together into a cohesive unit with a unique sound. Cragmire Peace’s throaty growl is counterbalanced by Jean’s classic, yet ghostly country croon and the incredibly adept bluegrass band is mixed together to create a very new sound. If musicianship is being credited, Bloody Rick Lane’s freight train harmonica is worth the price of admission alone. This dude blows harp and singlehandedly pushes this outfit into the realm of heavy hitters.

“Boy Named Lucy,” is something of a Grimm’s Fairytale adaptation of “Boy Named Sue” and is something you would expect from a band like this, but other tunes such as “Reaper Madness” and “The Pain” highlight Bloody’s talent and Beckler’s spot-on production. These songs push out of a niche genre and have a nearly cross-over pop quality. These guys are doing something cool here – from cartoonish horror to killer country – Coffin Up Blood demonstrates what BJB has to offer.

Reaper Madness by The Bloody Jug Band

The Bloody Jug Band are having their CD Release Party at Will’s Pub on Saturday, March 31st at 9:00 pm. Check them out and pick up a fresh copy of Coffin Up Blood.

The Bloody Jug Band Official Website

Bloody Jug Band on Facebook

Written for Tampa’s Premiere Music Blog, Suburban Apologist @SubApologist

Feb 202012


I was instantly smitten with the song “Oblivion” despite its close approximation to Tiffany’s version of “I Think We’re Alone Now.” NOTE: I made this assertion before NPR Music, but that isn’t really a big deal since it’s so obvious) In fact, Grimes, aka Claire Boucher – the Canadian musician and visual artist finds melodic muscle in 80’s pop-ster kitsch that’s bathed in her own brand of ethereal gloom on the latest album, Visions. It almost sounds like Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam produced by Trent Reznor on “Circumambient.” The second track, “Genesis” is like a Friday night, 5th grade couple skate on psilocybin.  Although, my instinct is to distrust another lush, 80’s influenced bedroom laptop act, Grimes builds on the dark and beautiful, yet sonically ambivalent soundscapes of 2010’s Geidi Primes and 11’s Darkbloom to create a more polished sound. Visions reveals a more cohesive approach to crafting songs which lends more direction to the album and gives Grimes a distinctive songwriting signature.

See my review of Visions on Tampa’s best music blog, Suburban Apologist

Jan 152012

Smashing-Pumpkins-Gish-reissue-orlando-music-blogWhile the Smashing Pumpkins do a mini tour behind Oceania and release free music from their vast back catalog via the Smashing Pumpkins Record Club, Billy Corgan is remastering all of their previous albums. Sometimes a remastered release from the digital age seems pointless, but Corgan has put together some pretty sweet packages in the first two releases of their debut Gish and the seminal alt-rock masterpiece, Siamese Dream.

Both of these albums embodied Butch Vig’s relentless pursuit of perfection with Corgan’s relentless pursuit of rock glory. I fell in love with these records because they were so “BIG.” It always sounded like there was too much sound tearing through the stereo – like there was not enough speaker to handle the over-the-top, machine gun attack of Jimmy Chamberlin and the searing avalanche of Billy’s shoegaze meets 70’s rock wall of guitar. The remasters just work to emphasize a sound that is as groundbreaking today as it was 20 years ago with crystal clear reproduction.


The reissues are great, but the real pleasure is in the extras. Each album consists of three discs now: the album, a second disc of 18 mastered b-sides, unreleased demos and alternate takes, as well as a concert DVD. The Gish bonus disc contains a series of Gish-era recordings that may be familiar to longtime fans. The epic “Starla” and chunky “Plume” get the 2011 mix treatment while bedroom demos for “Daydream” (with Billy doing vocals instead of D’arcy) and the searing “Bury Me” see the light of day for the first time.

“Hippy Trippy” (“Crush” Box Demo) Previously unreleased

[media id=70]

The DVD sees a Smashing Pumpkins that offered the perfect alt-rock antithesis to the Seattle sound. The Pumpkins provided something for metal heads that grew out of the hair bands of the 80’s, but weren’t completely smitten with 90’s grunge. They blended the dark romance of 80’s mod music like The Cure and The Smiths with big 70’s guitar rock like Zeppelin, Boston, and Sabbath. This pre-Gish concert at Chicago’s Metro has a longhaired Corgan and company waling at full volume with all the fire and innocence a band on the rise can deliver.

Siamese Dream disc 2 is a sublime mixture of rarities and fully mastered versions of underground favorites that had me simultaneously air-guitaring and weeping (much like I listened to them in my teens). It felt like a new Pumpkins album circa 1994. An unearthed electric, full band version of the song “Siamese Dream” and a remixed “Moleasskiss” along with the crunching demos of “Today” and “Hello Kitty Kat” reveal a thundering rock band that could crank out anthemic face melters with ease. Although both “Moleasskiss” and “Hello Kitty Kat” are available on an underground 5-disc set of lost Pumpkins’ songs called Mashed Potatoes, they are mixed to full album-worthy, speaker-thudding glory for disc 2.

The Siamese Dream concert DVD sees the Metro again, 2 years later, as Siamese Dream is released. The band now has swagger and is on a mission as the genre-fusing approaching went from description to the definition of the Smashing Pumpkins sound. Cocky and combative, Corgan bruises a packed audience with a ferocious set as the Billy / Jimmy alliance codifies its signature attack.

Read my review on Tampa’s music blog, Suburban Apologist

Sep 222011


Hysterical, the new release from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah sounds anything but.  The album is refined and mature. It is closer to Some Loud Thunder being heavier on more elaborate orchestral-type pop arrangements than the thundering disco beats and clean bass lines adorned with jangly duel guitars that made their debut album remind me of an east coast Modest Mouse.

It is actually a nice compromise between the sounds of the first two albums.  On the first song, “Same Mistake,” old disco beats marry-up nicely with new strings and the ever-constant forlorn and unintelligible vocals of Alec Ounsworth. The title track, “Hysterical,” combines a quickened pace with a more soaring and tonal guitar approach inflating the song beyond mere indie whimper. Ounsworth’s lyrics ring true with sentimental conviction as always on “Misspent Youth” as he sort of hits the nail on the head.  “Maniac” is the first song I hear that sounds like it would lend weight to a live show. “Into Your Alien Arms” feels like Talking Heads until it breaks out into a loud and feedback drenched solo outro a la Sonic Youth and “Ketamine and Ecstasy” is what I’m on right now – ha – no – it kind of sounds like The Cure with echo-y guitars conjuring feelings of 80’s new wave.

“Into Your Alien Arms” by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

Hysterical is getting critically pounded because a 5-year hiatus returned a safe, middle-of-the-road effort. I can see how it fails to achieve the charm of their first album and the wild experimentation of the second, but I feel they defined themselves by taking some of the best bits of those two approaches. It’s an album that warrants more than one or two listens before all the nuance of the instrumentation and John Congleton’s (Walkmen, David Byrne) production sinks in.

Sep 132011

st-vincent_strange-mercy_album-review_kisses-and-noiseMy current celebrity lady crush, Annie Clark, is back with a new St. Vincent album titled Strange Mercy. I always understood St. Vincent to be a pixie-ish waif with a great voice and tender, graceful pop songs. That is until I saw her on Austin City Limits with her full band just tear the ass out of it – changing seemingly mellow numbers into guitar-infused rock. Live, her dainty songs were supercharged with energy and sprinkles of true “axe-work” handled competently by Annie herself.

Strange Mercy highlights some of her live strengths, making great use of charging beats and generous dabs of grinding guitar. The first two tracks, especially “Cruel,” capture the best of what St. Vincent has to offer. Cathartic lyrics housed in elegant and soaring pop and brought down to earth with the chunkiness of electric guitar.

Read my full review at Suburban Apologist