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CD Reviews:
Listening Room: The Kills, Danity Kane and more...

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Sunday, March 16, 2008

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The Kills, “Midnight Boom” (Domino) ***

Don’t feel sorry for the Kills’ Alison “VV” Mosshart when she sings on the group’s third album that “I’m bored of cheap and cheerful.” Cheap and cheerful have simply never been part of the Anglo-British duo’s mix, and “Midnight Boom” traverses the same darkly kinky and sexually tense terrain as its predecessors, with Mosshart and platonic partner Jamie Hince teasing listeners with what sure sound like lascivious exchanges and duets. But this time out the Kills have found a new kind of beat. Inspired by a documentary about the rhythmic playground patter in America during the ’60s, most of the dozen songs on “Midnight Boom” — which, like its 2005 predecessor, “No Was,” was recorded mostly in Benton Harbor — are driven more by looped beats, many of which were crafted with SpankRock producer Armani XXXchange (Alex Epton). They frame the melodies on tracks such as “Getting Down,” “Cheap and Cheerful” and the hand-clapping “Sour Cherry” with a different kind of spare urgency, while “U.R.A. Fever” and “Alphabet Pony” boast an urban, nearly hip-hop ambience and “M.E.X.I.C.O.” brings the noise with a bit more oomph. The approach also injects a more swinging groove into Hince’s guitar riffs, which bring a fresh but still garagey flavor to “Tape Song,” “Last Day of Magic,” “Hook and Line” and “What New York Used to Be.” Mosshart tells us at one point to “signal me when you want me to stop,” but given the results on “Midnight Boom,” that won’t be any time soon.


Danity Kanem “Welcome to the Dollhouse” (Bad Boy/Atlantic) **

Like the “American Idol” phenomenon, Danity Kane embodies the power of television to make stars of otherwise anonymous talents. P.Diddy’s “Making the Band” quintet went platinum with its 2006 debut and therefore generates some buzz with its sophomore effort, a 15-track set by-thenumbers club pop that’s hardly distinctive enough to be recognized in a blind “taste” test. “... Dollhouse” has enough production firepower (Nate “Danja” Hills, 7 Aurelius, Bryan Michael Cox) and high-profile guests (Missy Elliot, Rick Ross, Diddy) to support its slick and synthetic sound, but only a couple of tracks, such as the whippy “Pretty Boy” and the techno-leaning “Sucka For Love” offer a whiff of freshness. This “... Dollhouse” wears out its “Welcome ...” in fairly short order.


The A.K.A.s (Are Everywhere!), “Everybody Make Some Noise!” (Metropolis): The New York “dancehall fight music” troupe’s second album, and first in five years, features guests Jello Biafra, Hawthorne Heights and Anti-Flag.

Ashes dIVIDE, “Keep Telling Myself It’s Alright” (Island): A Perfect Circle’s Billy Howerdel re-emerges with a new, basically one-man project.

Kevin Ayers, “The Unfairground” (Gigantic):

The former Soft Machine member’s latest solo album hops across the pond after a successful launch in the U.K. and Europe.

Shirley Bassey, “Get the Party Started” (Decca): The legendary British singer hopes she still has the gold(finger) touch on her first new album in a decade.

Black Tide, “Light From Above” (Interscope): The teen heavy metal group from Florida finally releases its first album after runs on OZZFest and with Avenged Sevenfold and Chimaira.

Destroyer, “Trouble in Dreams” (Merge): Frontman Dan Bejar leads another heavy-hitting sonic assault on the Vancouver group’s eighth album.

DeVotchKa, “A Mad and Faithful Telling” (Anti-): The title is indeed a telling one for this Denver group’s collision of rock and Eastern European sound sensibilities.

Flo Rida, “Mail on Sunday” (Atlantic): The Florida rapper hopes to maintain the momentum of his chart-topping “Low” as he teams with Timbaland, T-Pain, Trey Songz, Lil’ Wayne, Young Joc and others.

The Hush Sound, “Goodbye Blues” (Decaydance/Fueled By Ramen): The Chicago modern rockers voided a decision to split up in order to make their third album.

Daniel Lanois, “Here Is What Is” (Red Floor):

The U2 and Peter Gabriel producer’s sixth solo album gets a terrestrial release three months after it came out on digital platforms.

Lyrics Born, “Everywhere At Once” (Anti-): Chali 2na and RjD2 join the San Francisco Bay Area rapper on his latest album.

The Matches, “A Band in Hope” (Epitaph): The Oakland (California, not County) rock quartet employed a cadre of producers for its third album, including Goldfinger’s John Feldmann.

Yael Naim, “Yael Naim” (Atlantic): The first set from the Israeli singer got a boost when Apple used the single “New Soul” in ads for its new MacBook Air laptop.

Soundtrack, “Body of War” (Sire): Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, Neil Young, the Nightwatchman, Serj Tankian and Ben Harper are among the contributors to this companion album for this film about paralyzed Iraq war veteran Tomas Young.

Keith Sweat, “Just Me” (Rhino): The New Jack Soul pioneer releases his first set of all-new material since 2002’s “Rebirth.”

Dionne Warwick, “Why We Sing” (Rhino): The iconic veteran takes a gospel turn, with guest appearances by BeBe Winans, David Elliott and sister Dee Dee Warwick.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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