Kittens for Christian
w/the Raveonettes, stellastarr*

Sat Sept 27, Crocodile, 9 pm, $15.

Like Echo & the Bunnymen and Love and Rockets, Kittens for Christian chose their name for its absurdity, pulling the moniker from a late-'60s/early-'70s underground comic. A three-word anomaly of a title isn't all KFC share with their musical predecessors, though--they pull thin strands of gorgeous melody through compact walls of effects that expand exponentially like the world on a nitrous hit, packing the aesthetics of dream-pop/shoegazer bands like Kitchens of Distinction and dark post-punk outfits like the Cure into a modern no wave act. In the process, the Los Angeles band covers a lot of territory in one uneven--but ultimately interesting--new album, Privilege of Your Company.

KFC have been around since 1991, when the first wave of similar bands hit MTV's 120 Minutes--and had they then been taken under the wing of a larger entity, show host Dave Kendall might have been butchering interviews with them as well. But it took a decade for System of a Down's Serj Tankian to sign them to his new label, Serjical Strike. The resulting Company (Sony/Serjical Strike) is finally bringing the group into the larger spotlight they deserve--now that the style they've been cultivating for 12 years is in step with the public's current (re)fascination with the musical blueprint set by acts like Wire, Joy Division, and the Birthday Party.

The core Kittens (Cuban-born bassist/vocalist Hiram Fleites and Scottish guitarist Neil Young) make their instruments sound like keyboards--distorted chords ballooning and swirling around each other, losing their rough edges to ride into the atmosphere--while Fleites' voice sounds like a young Peter Gabriel's. In that way, Kittens for Christian also have contemporary peers in the tragically underhyped TV on the Radio (definitely pick up TVOTR's Young Liars EP)--especially with KFC's best track, the droning "Had a Plan." But where TVOTR use a lot of computerized beats, KFC drummer Ed Diffner keeps the sound live, with less emphasis on stuttering dance and more on moody movements in sound. Kittens for Christian will share a bill with the Pixies-esque stellastarr* and the Velvet-y Raveonettes--this show, artfully blending style and substance, deserves a spot on your radar.

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