Monday, 29 March 2010

Electric Six - Kill

Electric Six’s sixth album, Kill, might not be as immediately catchy as the bulk of its predecessors, but it is just as bombastically ridiculous as anything else to come from the Detroit disco-rockers. As is an Electric Six standard, the songs convey tales of sleazy machismo and nonsensical relationships, all delivered with such conviction that you don’t even think about questioning lyrics as ludicrous as “Karma is a big mean animal, looking for its next meal in your bedroom while I'm on top of you / Demonstrating the latest positions”. Dick Valentine’s vocals are as suave as ever; his passionate lows are nicely juxtaposed with the occasional falsetto highs, providing the perfect voice for the outlandish music.

One of the biggest differences with Kill in comparison to a lot of the band’s other material is the music’s actual construction. On the one hand, there is a stronger portrayal of the band’s electronic side - for example, ‘Rubbing Me the Wrong Way’ depends on a fuzzy square lead and sprinkled synthesisers to keep the track moving. At the same time however, there is also a surprisingly large presence of lead guitar, with almost all tracks brilliantly supplemented with far more well-placed noodling than ever before. Whilst it takes some getting used to, it seems that musically Electric Six have really pulled all the stops out, somehow managing to make their instrumentation almost as over the top as the lyrics.

Unquestionably, Kill is a strong album through and through, proving itself yet another entry to the deceivingly high-quality output of Electric Six. Its only fault is requiring repeated listens in order to truly ‘get it’, with cuts such as the oddly-heartfelt ballad ‘Steal Your Bones’ not immediately displaying their genius on the first play through. Whilst perhaps not quite as all encompassing as predecessor Flashy, Kill has plenty of variety and is bound to please fans of the Six’s other materials.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

AntiProduct - Please Take Your Cash

It’s extremely difficult to tag AntiProduct with a specific genre as they jump from anything such as melodic pop-rock to blistering heavy metal in such quick succession that it takes repeated listens to even notice the transition. Indeed, it’s a testament to AntiProduct’s musical ability that they are able to so seamlessly mix very different styles without it sounding awkward or jarring; ‘Arms Around The World’, for instance, leaps from Green Day pop-punk to a borderline thrash interlude before culminating in an almost nonsensical country breakdown. Whilst the entire album isn’t quite as manically eclectic as this, Please Take Your Cash remains as consistently fun throughout, ranging from up-beat motivators such as the could-be-Andrew W.K. song “Parties All Over The World” to the fantastically demonic cover of “Good Vibrations” – there’s never a dull moment.

Alex Kane’s American-twanged vocals ooze a biting yet tuneful charisma and are brilliantly complimented by the serenely English voice of Clare pproduct, with the rest of the band ably contributing their pipes to add an extra kick to the multi-layered chants. Of particular note is how much better produced the instrumentation of Please Take Your Cash is than on its predecessor Made In U.S.A., with the polished sheen really bringing out the Ramones-esque tendencies of the band. Furthermore, with their debut album Consume and Die... the Rest is All Fun becoming an increasingly difficult find nowadays, Please Take Your Cash also contains re-recordings of a few of the former’s tracks - not the least of which is live-staple ‘Bungee Jumping People Die’, proving itself just as good a track now as it did back in 2000.

Clearly, at the heart of AntiProduct’s Please Take Your Cash is an uplifting amalgamation of a desire for fun and genuine passion for music, both of which are beautifully and skilfully portrayed throughout and possibly best epitomised by surprisingly moving cuts such as ‘Tell Me What You Want’ or ‘When We Find Love’. There is honestly not a weak cut on the entire album and it should more than satisfy who like their rock with some well constructed diversity.

KISS - O2 Academy Islington 2/3/10

Note: This review was originally written for Powerplay Magazine, but as it stands I have no clue if they've used it. If they have, I'll presumably have to remove it. You should pick up Powerplay Magazine anyway, it's rather good and I tend to be in it most months. End plug.

^ I actually took the photo this time round.

By KISS standards, the Islington Academy is effectively the box-room of venues but walking in and seeing that huge, lit-up KISS logo and the multiple stacks of amps has never made the hall seem so big. On a smaller stage, KISS lose none of their pomp with Gene Simmons’ constant antagonistic pointing and demonic gestures during cuts like ‘Cold Gin’ made all the more disturbing by his copious salivation over the stage. Keeping the crowd entertained throughout was Paul Stanley’s natural swagger and brief banter coupled with some great audience participation on rock gems like ‘Love Gun’. Of course the full stage show wasn’t present, but the confetti storm during ‘Rock And Roll All Nite’, followed by Paul smashing his guitar made the night feel much ‘bigger’ than it really was. Of particular note was how the newer additions to the band responded to the audience. Tommy Thayer has clearly come in to his own, assuming the role of the Spaceman brilliantly and was more than obviously enjoying himself, feeding off the undeniably huge energy present in the 800 capacity venue. Eric Singer was no slouch either, not only proving himself a great drummer, but also delivering a fantastic vocal performance during ‘Black Diamond’. It was great to see all four members acting as a cohesive band, showing KISS as more than just Paul and Gene’s group.

The only negative aspect of the concert was its disappointingly short length. Having been told to expect a fifteen song set, the proceedings were clearly cut short with staples such as ‘Deuce’, ‘Shout It Out Loud’ and ‘Lick It Up’ unfortunately missing. Despite this however, the concert proved itself worth every penny as it truly was a once in a life time opportunity to see KISS in such an intimate setting. One might think that without the intricate theatrics such as the pyro and the blood, KISS live would fall short of entertaining. On the contrary, KISS unquestionably proved not only that their music is more important than the visual show, but that they still have the ability to enthral a crowd on the strength of the band itself rather than the extra additions.