B&E: The Kills
Breaking & Entering: A look at acts breaking at radio and retail and entering Billboard charts. This week: The Kills.Profiling acts breaking at radio and/or retail and entering Billboard's charts.
A slightly dangerous undercurrent accompanies British-based duo the Kills on their U.S. debut, "No Wow" (Rough Trade/RCA). The tumultuous energy between singer/guitarist VV (Alison Mosshart) and guitarist Hotel (Jamie Hince) vaults the March release to No. 18 on Billboard's Top Heatseekers list this week.
The two, who released the album last month on Domino in the U.K., are breaking U.S. soil much like label and tourmate Franz Ferdinand. While the still-unknown Scottish quartet was the talk of last year's South By Southwest (SXSW) festival, the Kills caused a stir at this year's annual event in Austin, Texas.
"With an ear-splitting aural assault, the Kills kept us rapt," Billboard's Barry A. Jeckell said of the act's performance at Emo's. "[Mosshart] was sexy, brooding and entirely compelling, while [Hince], whose riffs recalled early Gang Of Four, wore a steely stare that was unnerving."
While the rough-hewn duo may draw comparisons to fellow garage rock act the White Stripes, VV and Hotel differ by documenting their life as a couple with static guitars and straight-forward vocals, highlighting their adventures together with tracks like "Back of the Shell" and the two-part "I Hate the Way You Love."
Inspired by the beat punk aesthetic of the late '60s, the Kills began a transatlantic collaboration in 2000 via letters and tapes that changed shape when W left Florida for Hotel's London base. The four-track "Black Rooster" EP was released on Domino in 2002 and followed by their first full-length, "Keep On Your Mean Side." the following year.
For "No Wow," the London-based couple hid out in Benton Harbour, Mich., to write the songs before heading to New York to record, finishing the minimalist project in 47 days.
Kicked off last week at SXSW, the Kills' U.S. tour wraps April 30 at Indio, Calif.'s Coachella Festival.
U.S. label site: www.roughtradeamerica.com
U.K. label site: www.dominorecordco.com