The Kills 

Black Rooster

No one should cover Captain Beefheart -- never, ever. Music that odd and ingenious is not to be screwed with -- do not attempt to interpret it, please. Okay, that said, the latest EP from London's artsy punk-rockers the Kills is pretty mean and rockin'. And seeing as one track is an unbearable cover of Beefheart's "Dropout Boogie" and another is not music but merely obnoxious samples of gum-smacking and a woman asking, "Do you like this sound?", let's call it a three-song record -- as opposed to the fact that five tracks do indeed exist. The first three Rolling Stones and Velvet Underground-influenced songs are great -- not for their originality, obviously, but because they're rough and thrashing, sexy, and saturated with a tough-ass attitude. The Kills exchange singing duties between man and woman (male-female vocal interplay can be so alluring, and here it definitely is). The combative vocals add an extra dimension and personality to the music; they also give it chemistry, soaking it in sensuality.

"Cat Claw," the most intense, high-energy song on the record, kicks it off, swaggering and snapping Stones-style, shimmering and jangling with lusty grunts. The biggest standout is the drumming on the emotive "Wait," which is basically identical to that of the Velvets' "Heroin." Set against the tambourine, it couldn't be more derivative. Still, the vocals are impassioned and the playing is powerful. Overall, this is great drugged-up punk listening that thrashes and sways, shrieks and whispers. Just don't attempt to beef it up, please.

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