Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

The Pleasure Kills Are Pure Pleasure

Bay area rockers the Pleasure Kills’ new punk-pop album Bring Me a Match is a time warp from the days before autotune, before nonsense syllables replaced real lyrics in radio pop songwriting. There’s not a single bad song here. The tunes are irresistibly catchy and pack a punch, their signature sound blending distorted, melodic punk guitar with swooshy organ. The wounded wail of Lydiot, their frontwoman, has a regret-tinged phrasing like the Go-Go’s Belinda Carlisle except that she sings on key. At their best they evoke Angie Pepper’s legendary Australian proto-punk band the Passengers.

The opening cut Dancing on My Bed is a Ramones-style stomp with sweeping synth – “I’m stomping on my phone, I wanna be alone,” Lydiot insists: she may be all by herself, but she’s damned if she won’t have fun anyway. The title track is sort of Blondie gone punk; I Want You isn’t the Dylan hit, but a riff-rocking garage-punk song with some perfectly nasty Scott Asheton-style rolls on the drums. The strongest, and most original song here, is Hearts Run Out, with its wicked, catchy, growling guitar hook. Everything Lydiot sees reminds her of something from a dead affair: “I can never go home.” It wouldn’t be out of place on an album by legendary Milwaukee powerpop band the Shivvers.

Another standout cut is Modern Problems – with its snaky organ lines and ruthless pummelling drive, it’s like Radio Birdman at their most pop. Heartbreak in Space is a candy-coated punk-pump smash; Victoria isn’t a cover of the Kinks classic, but instead a jagged early 80s punk/new wave song and an insanely catchy chorus hook that fades out. They go back to the Radio Birdman pop, if not quite as intensely, with Ammunition, followed by the casually snide Bag of Bones, which bears some resemblance to post-X bands like Spanking Charlene. The album closes with And Me, nicking the intro from Agent Orange’s Living in Darkness, then launching into into an unstoppable punk/pop stomp with a surprise cold ending. It’s not an insult to say that if this had been released thirty years ago, an entire subculture would now regard it as a cult classic. Play it loud. San Francisco fans can catch the Pleasure Kills’ next show at Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk St. between Post and Sutter with Paul Collins’ Beat on 9/25 at 9.

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September 15, 2010 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 8/13/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Thursday’s song is #349:

The Avengers – Second to None

Classic San Francisco punk rock from 1979. Considered by many to be the American Sex Pistols (an apt comparison, considering that this song was produced by the Pistols’ Steve Jones), frontwoman Penelope Houston fortuituously resurrected the band in 2005 and has done frequent transcendentally good shows with them since. This is one of their most ferocious, defiant numbers, and Houston sings it even better now than she did thirty years ago.

August 12, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CD Review: Sex With No Hands – Squeeze It

The title of the cd is a pun, since this tongue-in-cheek San Francisco dance/funk sextet – couldn’t resist that word – relies on two accordions plus an oldschool, 1980s style keytar (a synth mounted on a body that looks like a guitar and is played while slung over the shoulder), plus a horn section. Their songs are catchy, they have a good sense of humor and they don’t take themselves seriously at all – and claim to have been cited by the Onion for having one of the best band names of 2008 (well, it’s true – they do). Along with the keytar, they also use one of those silly talkboxes (you know, like Zapp & Roger, or Mr. Blue Sky? Mr. Blue? Sky? Mr. Blue!) when they really feel like going for laughs.  

 

The first cut on the cd is Red Light Love, a funk song, like what Zapp & Roger would have sounded like with accordions. The second track, Pogo Stick is predictably funny, Freudian, latin inflected funk with the occasional cheesy keytar flourish. Tengo Un Secreto is a scurrying Mexican banda polka with similarly amusing Spanish lyrics. The last song on the ep is a completely over-the-top, klezmerized cover of a Billy Idol hit which they call Rebbe Yell. It’s a hoot, right down to the faux Billy Idol vox. When it’s time for that idiotic guitar solo, the keytar and accordion duel it out til the drum break, which is as just as funny but for completely different reasons. You can dance to everything here: stick it in a party cd and watch the quizzical expressions. WTF is this? This is fun! If the cd is any indication, they ought to be an excellent live band. Best thing about the cd is that it’s free, download it here. Bay Area fans should check out their show on a killer triple bill on March 21 at Cafe du Nord; Sex With No Hands are scheduled to hit at 11:30, but show up early at 9 for all-female, 60’s-era Kinks cover band the Minks and then awesomely catchy yet haunting harmony-driven art-rockers Blue Rabbit.

February 14, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Pleasure Kills – Smash up the Radio b/w Over and Over

More cool stuff in over the transom. On their debut vinyl single, San Francisco quartet the Pleasure Kills describes themselves as “pop for punks.” Well put. Smash Up the Radio takes a familiar Ramones-style tune, takes it down a notch volume-wise and puts it into the hands of someone who can actually sing, in this case Pleasure Kills frontwoman Lydiot. Suddenly it’s 1981 all over again.

The b-side (a b-side, don’t you just love it?), Over and Over is actually the big hit here, sounding a LOT like vintage Blondie with the organ way up in the mix but not cheesy at all. This is the kind of song that you find yourself singing on the way to the train while your brain is still in cringe mode from the 9-to-5 lying in wait. Awesomely catchy. Sounds like they had a lot of fun recording it, and could be a lot of fun live too. The songs are also available as individual downloads at the band’s myspace

March 9, 2008 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment