Most music magazines like to try and predict what the next hot new trend will be. Last year, critics were predicting a wave of British hip-hop after well-received albums by the Streets and Dizzee Rascal. Some people expected indie rock to take over in light of the RIAA lawsuits and downloading battle. This year, bands like Interpol (whose follow-up to the enormously successful Turn on the Bright Lights is due later this year) and Franz Ferdinand (whose Darts of Pleasure EP is steadily climbing the charts) are garnering tremendous buzz. However, this year has also seen some very challenging art rock creeping up from the underground.
Liars dropped their confrontational They Were Wrong So We Drowned, the Chromatics issued a disc of funk damaged art core with Plaster Hounds, and now label mates Kill Me Tomorrow offer up their own oddly hip shaking and completely destroyed punk rock concept album The Garbageman and the Prostitute. Maybe I’m an optimist, or have had a run of art rock discs to review, but I feel the newest rock trend is staring me right in the face.
That The Garbageman and the Prostitute is produced by Steve Revitte, who also manned the boards for the Liars breakthrough, They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top, is no surprise. Both discs feature similarly broken punk dance music that is abrasive yet strangely catchy. A concept album that is lacking in concept (it is based on a book written by band members Zack and K8 that is being published later this year) the album plays out more as an introduction to the many characters that populate the novel, rather than a linear storyline. Regardless, the debut album from Kill Me Tomorrow is a strong entry into the growing post-punk-art-rock scene.
The album opener “The Best Siren Is a Flesh Siren” starts with ear piercing feedback as a seriously thick bass line and hyperkinetic percussion lay the foundation for some seriously dry, distorted vocals. “Xerox My Hand” is a gloriously noisy track that is reminiscent of early Sonic Youth in its reckless abandon. Led by tinny drums and a beautifully warped synth, “Skin’s Getting Weird” features some chanted vocals, which, despite not knowing the words, will stick in your head. What one notices when listening to “The Garbageman and the Prostitute” is how varied their influences are, yet how cohesive the sound is. From the New York avant art rock scene of the eighties to AC/DC (listen to “Hot Head (Van Vliet)” and tell if they aren’t channeling Angus Young), Kill Me Tomorrow’s vision is appropriately a mix of old school noise and new school minimalism, yet it sounds completely fresh.
Unlike the Chromatics’ soulless Plaster Hounds, The Garbageman and the Prostitute brims with the life of outsiders, freaks, and revolutionaries. Kill Me Tomorrow have painted a bleak future, with haunted voices and the sounds of oppressive authority, yet at the end of day, and at the very least, you can dance to it.