Wondrously weird genre-blending post punk
Kino Kimino is the brand new enterprise of Kim Talon (Eagle & Talon, JAN) featuring Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo and drummer Steve Shelley along with Melinda Holm on bass. Releasing the album under Ghost Ramp after recording at Sonic Youth’s Echo Canyon West studio, the John Agnello (Kurt Vile) produced debut Bait is for Sissies plays like a 10-track post punk album with interwoven weirdness.
The first track, “Passion,” starts off with rolling percussion and catch-breath vocals that easily glide over some slightly distorted guitar and melted harmony. What began as semi abrasive turned into a full bodied track and underwent a full evolution by the first minute and a half. By the end, “Passion” has weight and drama, with a soaring melody alongside of eerie harmony before a sexy and simple guitar solo sees the song to its end. It is a really solid start.
“Pale Calico” beings with pounding tribal drumming, enabling another abrupt start followed closely by guitar and crystal clear vocal delivery. This one ends in a 90s spiral, with some hammering keys and metallic guitar, while third track “Blood Bath” starts off sludgy, slow and even slightly doom-y. By this time in the album, it’s established that Talon has command of her pipes – the vocals come off like a hybrid of “Black Velvet” Alannah Myles and The Donnas with shades of peer act Tacocat thrown in.
“Rosie Rudiger” serves as the slower, shoe-gaze palette cleanser and one can truly feel the Sonic Youth touch here. So far, Kino Kimino has touched on indie, doom, sludge, 90s alt-rock, riot grrl noise and dreamy, atmospheric shoe gaze, weaving in and out of each touchstone with an experienced hand. Kino Kimino feels like they’ve been around for decades – which in a sense they have – and this comfort in a debut is not only refreshing but paradoxically nostalgic. One gets the feeling they’re listening to ‘old’ Kino Kimino, a true feat considering everything is new.
“Loincloth” goes through a multitude of phases, ending with a distinctly Karen O It’s Blitz repetition of the hook, which may or may not overpower the listener to pummel the air or rapidly bang their head; be sure to clear your surroundings prior. “Caste Out” seems like something Coco Rosie or Deerhoof might have buried in one of their more middling albums, though still engaging enough to listen through the entire track, with Talon’s vocals keeping things on the prettier side. Talon might be preferable when she isn’t breaking her own stride and chopping up her honeyed voice for a grainy talk-sing effect – things take an unfortunate turn for the camp during these moments, though they quickly recover.
“Grapes” gives a wallowing and weakly western slide guitar solo that is eerie, broken and sweetly meek, with a simplistic melody and easy chords. This is a track that may have benefited by not placing Talon front and a center and instead letting her haunt the background while the guitar took center stage. Regardless of the pitfalls that Kino Kimino has subtly stepped into, Bait is for Sissies is a strong debut that just needs a little more identity and a keener vision.