Five-Minute Record Reviews: Birthday Massacre, Ellie Goulding, Tame Impala, Jeff Lynne, & Some Band By The Name of KISS!

Kiss - Monster

With ringers filling the platform boots once worn by Peter Criss and Ace Frehley, Kiss returns with their twentieth studio album. We'll forego the obvious questions (such as "Does the world really need a new Kiss album?") and get right down to the music, which is what its all about, right? No? Oh right, this is Kiss we're talking about here. Perhaps no other band on the planet has made "the music" so secondary to "the spectacle", much to the delight of their pocketbooks.
Truth be told, I do carry a certain fondness for Paul Stanley's histrionic shriek, not to mention lyrics that are as ham-fisted as his stage banter.

Case in point:
"Out in the streets/Takin' all the heat/
Dancin' in the sheets/Oh yeah!" (from "Freak)

Musically, the album and production are solid, perhaps a little too solid, which only highlights the fact that Criss and Frehley are no longer a part of the equation that yielded all of the band's best tunes.

Jeff Lynne - Long Wave

Having manned the boards for the likes of George Harrison, Tom Petty and others in recent years, former ELO leader Jeff Lynne's new solo record will never get the attention that Lady Gaga's latest topless tweet gets in today's world, but those who make the effort to check this album out will be rewarded with one of the year's best records. Mind you, loving this record will get you no bonus points with the fairweather hipster crowd, but that's alright. They're content to blow their cash on Wilco and Radiohead in between sleepovers in front of the Apple store.
If the record sounds a little out-of-date, though, that's because it is Lynne's loving tribute to the pre-rock & roll songs he heard on his longwave radio as a child. Standouts include Rodgers & Hammerstein's "If I Loved You" and Charlie Chaplin's "Smile" make this collection essential. Heck, he's even able to breath new joy into well-worn standards like "At Last" and "Beyond The Sea".

Ellie Goulding - Halcyon

Yet another Brit songstress who draws comparisons to Adele by lazy journalists, Goulding boasts a less husky voice and her material is much more forward-leaning than Adele's, which puts her dangerously close to the "Katy Gaga" contingent, as dis her recent touring with Katy Perry. Thing is, while she dabbles in the mainstream, there is real depth to the music. "Anything Could Happen" is destined to be the signature song here, to be featured on dancefloors and Apple commercials the world over. If you're not yet familiar with her music, you will be. You read it here first.

Tame Impala - Lonerism

Been awhile since an Aussie band has floored you? Well, once you feast your ears on the joyously raucous retro sounds of Tame Impala, you will be unable to stop listening, I guaran-damn-tee it. Of course, the band's genius is in their ability to marry all the latest electro bells and whistles to booming 60's influenced rhythms and guitar lunacy. "Music To Walk Home By" will have you leaving the bar before closing time (a first for you, you lush) just so you can crank this tune into your earholes on the walk home. You could have waited til closing time, but that wouldn't be you. "Feels Like We Only Go Backwards" would not sound out of place on Sgt Peppers, which is a huge fucker of a compliment and reason enough for you to buy this album. Now.

The Birthday Massacre - Hide And Seek
(appearing November 1 at Bottom Lounge, tix $15)

Canada goth-wavers TBM return with a new album that continues to show the band's amazing growth from distorted growlers into legitimate mainstream hitmakers. How the band did not become a household name after Walk With Strangers or Pins And Needles is a crime worthy of Justice Department attention. Of course, that just means they get to be our little secret for that much longer, but, mark my words, it won't be long before everybody knows about 'em.
Chibi's vocals just keep getting better and better, so much so that she no longer gets lost in the synth & guitar-heavy production. We'd name standout tracks, but this is the sort of album where the tracks you find yourself focusing on changes from listen to listen, your ears feasting on the intricate details and complex, multi-layered melodies. If you buy this album on our recommendation and don't love it, there's something wrong with your head, child. :)

Superior St. Rehearsal Facility

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