wears the trousers magazine

sounding off: october 2009 (iii)
October 19, 2009, 12:49 pm
Filed under: album, EP, review | Tags: , , , , , , ,

In part three of this month’s roundup, we take a look at the new EP from Leeds band The Kiara Elles, the latest album from longrunning metal group Kittie and immerse ourselves in the brilliantly twisted world of Listen With Sarah.

* * *


The Kiara Elles
Odio EP •••

This spiky five-piece band from Leeds takes its unusual handle from a corruption of the name of lead singer Chiara Lucchini. Produced by Choque Hosein (formerly of Black Star Liner, now boss of Leeds label Vandal), the Odio EP delivers a straight up new-wave sound buoyed by Lucchini’s distinctive Yorkshire-accented vocals and a Slits-punk attitude. These qualities are best personified on the title track, its insistent beat and “shouting at the stereo” refrain making it a non-ska little sister of The Selecter’s ‘On My Radio’.

Less successful is ‘Supergroupie’, which fails to live up to the promise of its great title as a rather pedestrian electro-indie concoction, while final song ‘Rust’ sounds like it’s beaming straight out of 1981, with heavy bass and shades of John McGeoch-era Siouxsie & The Banshees. If this sounds like your thing, it may be all the more covetable as the vinyl version is available in a selection of three handmade wallpaper sleeves, all signed by the band members.

Lucy Brouwer
UK release date: 12/10/09; www.myspace.com/thekiaraelles


In The Black ••••

A very Metallica-styled instrumental intro by way of ‘Kingdom Come’ is Kittie’s way of introducing us to their latest and arguably best album In The Black. One of the rare all-female progressive metal bands, the Canadian quartet continue to hold their place in the canon with pride and skill. Infamous for their continuously shuffling lineup, the band lost yet another member when bassist Trish Doan quit in 2008 after being diagnosed with anorexia, but in this case the replacement has done them some good. The arrival of newcomer Ivy Vujic heralds a marked improvement in the quality of the musicianship, making In The Black a significant step forward from 2007’s Funeral For Yesterday.

Morgan Lander’s intense vocals switch between smooth and soulful on ‘Sorrow I Know’ to a familiarly rough metal growl on ‘Falling Down’, and she holds the charisma required to pull off either style when it suits her, often hitting the perfect balance between the two. Mercedes Lander on drums is outstanding with double kickdrum ripping through the songs, and her grooves are well supported by Vujic who makes her presence known. However, it’s Tara McLeod’s guitar riffs and solos that dominate this album with an intensity and technique that breaks the mould. In The Black is not an album to suit all tastes but it’s enough to make lovers of the genre sit up and take note.

Claire Robinson
UK release date: 02/11/09; www.myspace.com/officialkittie


Listen With Sarah
The World Of Listen With Sarah ••••½

Listen With Sarah is a collaboration between husband and wife production team Peter and Sarah Nelson, now in its seventh year and still going strong. Their debut album “Are You Sitting Comfortably?” courted controversy in 2005 through use of an illegal sample, forcing it to be withdrawn from sale, only to be reissued without the offending track in 2007. The World Of Listen With Sarah is the belated follow-up containing six tracks that once again fit into no discernable genre and are perhaps best described as a vicious attack on the senses mixed with crude samples and vocals that border on the inane. Incredibly, this turns out to be a good thing.

Within these six tracks are moments of sheer mixing genius (witness the divine mix of Andy Kershaw voice samples, sirens and animals noises in ‘Real Jungle High’), complex references to cult pop culture (Kershaw once again, sampled naming various countries in ‘Ramblin’ Andy’), and indeed beauty, detectable in the hula music that accompanies nearly every track. The real highlight is ‘Tempus Trumpus’, which combines the aforementioned merits by thrusting together various ponderous philosophical quotes about time and space with some tranquil ukulele before rounding off with a visit to Trumpton via the familiar ‘Camberwick Green’ music box tune. Quite possibly the future of contemporary music.

Mark Goldby
UK release date: 31/08/09; www.myspace.com/listenwithsarah


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