Kills | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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You don't have to bang out primitive synth patterns or rudimentary electro beats to sound like an 80s revivalist. Take the Kills, the London-based duo of VV (aka Alison Mosshart, former singer of Florida indie-punk band Discount) and Hotel (Jamie Hince, who used to front the English power trio Scarfo): their bruised little debut EP, Black Rooster (Dim Mak), puts me in mind of Reagan-era blues-punk combos like the Gun Club and, particularly in the coed call-and-response vocals, X or Royal Trux. As you might fear, a bit of sneery, self-congratulatory posturing comes with the territory--sometimes VV and Hotel try a little too hard to sound like they were born not giving a fuck, most explicitly on the EP's final track, an unbearable "performance" piece titled "Gum." But VV backs up her attitude with a strong, flexible voice, and she and Hotel write solid, Stonesy riffs that gain momentum with repetition. "Cat Claw" rocks like a Joan Jett tune; "Wait" is a tough-minded, utterly convincing acoustic breakup ballad; and on "Black Rooster" the lyrics make explicit the menace implied by the growling, circular guitar line and off-kilter drum pattern: "Got a rattlesnake gun in the basement / Your snake's gotten my name / I'm not coming home again." Friday, June 28, 6 PM, Fireside Bowl, 2646 W. Fullerton; 773-486-2700.

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