The Living Kills bring all the fun of garage psychedelia -- instrumental freak-outs, creepy organ, 12-string guitar, lights shows, and lots of noise -- but with a decidedly modern sensibility. Unlike a lot of their peers, they aren't trying to emulate the past, but instead recreate a vision of the 1960s that didn't happen. They wear their love of creepy B-movies, horror and spooky thrillers on their collective sleeves but chills generated are reversed by the dance party music lovers cannot refuse.
The brainchild of songwriter, vocalist, and guitar player, Merrill Sherman, a Brooklyn transplant from Chicago and Alabama, the band was originally conceived as a meld of Paisley Underground and Jesus & Mary Chain, but instead, anchored by Sherman's storyteller lyrics and the addition of Jennifer Bassett on organ and moog, approached something more akin to the darker trips of Roky Erickson or The Pretty Things.
WNYC Culture praised their first single, back when the band was just a three-piece, joined by Kristen Girard on drums, for its "trippy nostalgia" and Factory-sensibility. The addition of Brenden Beu (The Tablets) on bass and later Yancy Sabenicio (Wailin' Storms) on drums displayed Sherman's wider range of influences and led to the band's first well-received full-length, the CMJ-charting "Faceless Angels," which was praised by Magnet Magazine for "its new yet surprisingly nostalgic tracks."
Now a five-piece, Sherman and Bassett are joined by Ross Fisher on bass (The Brides, Zodiac Killers), Western-hailed Heron Furtwangler on guitar (GoatRopers, Whiskey Dick Mountain, LEX LOSEr), and the Tri-State area's very own Brian Del Guercio on drums. Combined, their EP, "Odd Fellows Hall," features songs that dial up the creepiness, but add a dance-happy speed – it is out in November. Expect a new full length in early 2015.
Photo by Joey Olsza
Thursday, Jan. 22
With Big Quiet and The Mad Doctors
NBC New York
"A buzzing, clamoring wreck of noise with sweetly straightforward melodies soaring overhead. Enjoy the howl of "Angels Without Faces."
"The Living Kills look, on the surface, like any other New York indie band waiting for its big break into the mainstream, but after one listen to 'Angels Without Faces,' it becomes evident that's not the case. Organs, synthesizers, ticking clocks and smoky male-and-female vocals make the group stand out from its peers. Merrill Sherman moved to NYC and found Jennifer Bassett, Brenden Beu and Yancy Sabenicio to start the Living Kills, and by using only '60s/'70s equipment, Faceless Angels (Past Futures) possesses new yet surprisingly nostalgic tracks.
"These New York rocker's newest album features creeping organ, tons of noise and a great mix of '60s guitar nostalgia and modern shoe-gaze."
The New York Times
"The Living Kills have a psychedelic jam mentality that makes me think of '60s garage. The guitar work and organ add a dance-happy speed and... I want to say "creepiness" to the band's dynamic. Combined, they make vocalist Merrill Sherman's inviting storyteller lyrics more of an experience akin to the soundtrack of an old horror film, and not in a campy 'Creature Feature' kind of way."
"There's a splendor inside 'Angels Without Faces' that makes it distinguishable amongst the bands you just come to know. The intro is profound, determined and vigorous. I remember when I first watched the video for Oasis 'D'Know What I Mean?' it left me a similar impression: the flamboyance in noise. It's as though The Living Kills, within the time of only a debut EP and this, have piled up a portfolio of confidence. It's not a light bulb upon your head that goes "This is the correct chord for this!" How the song presents itself is menacing, challenging and of course dainty. The shoe-gaze inside discovers itself pretty early on. Merrill Sherman, the lead vocalist's voice is as neutral as Jim Reid, not emphasizing on a single part of his uneventful sonnet. Songs on Faceless Angels, The Living Kills' full length are reportedly about childhood fears and embracing them with the help of late 60s equipment. Also a drugged up demo video of this plowing psych-rock tune is found here! I enjoyed it a lot to be honest."
DJ Poppa, Takeover Radio
"The New York City based band The Living Kills are without a doubt a product of the 21st century. An amalgamation of so many genres and musical periods, their debut album Faceless Angels combines the warm and fuzzy charm of a 60's rock outfit with the aggression and high energy of a middle finger saluting punk rock band and everything in between. It is all combined with a sensibility that is distinctly fresh. In a scene that is full of watered down, lo-fi, wanna be psychedelic acts The Living Kills is the real deal. Merrill Sherman's lyrics are poetic and thoughtful; rivaling those of Jim Morrison- yes I went there- and the accompanying music is equally resonant. Some songs are slower and more dramatic, like 'Dead,' and 'Long Shadow of The Day.' While others are energetic and aggressive; even danceable like 'My Gun's a Fist' and 'Others Lips.' The Living Kills are the perfect mix of classic, groovy Rock N' Roll a la The Animals, The Sonics, and The Rolling Stones; dirty blues bands like ZZ Top, and The Black Keys; and glorious psychedelia akin to The Beatles and The Yardbirds… Well maybe I shouldn't say 'the perfect mix' because I have high hopes that this band will continue to push forward in the future and carve out a perfect fuzzy little psychedelic Rock n Roll place for themselves."
"Listening to this Brooklyn band feels like an eerie dream, like there's a ghost lingering in their psychedelic rock. It's unlikely that any of the members of The Living Kills lived through the 60s, yet their music can be easily confused as something from that era. Many of today's up-and-coming bands, from Echo Park to Brooklyn, sound like the 60s, but not like this. The Living Kills sounds like The Doors and Jefferson Airplane. Their music is spooky and poetic, like an early Tim Burton movie."
"I love the sound of this guitar on My Gun is a Fist. The distortion is hot and dirty; like a sulfry fart in a steam-filled shower. You'll literally flinch from the blast of warm air secreting from your speakers. The Living Kills back up that space-eating 12 string guitar with an "Iron Butterflied" organ, banging cymbals, raunchy vocals, and bending guitar leads. The sound is as thick as Ron Jeremy's fist-sized cock. Hmmmmm. Is this how the song got its name???? Bend over and get ready for a fisting; compliments of The Living Kills and their collective gun."
Smash Magazine (Issue 48)
"Gloom music seems to be all around us these days and it seems The Living Kills not just bring gloomy lyrics but their sense of rock and roll is impeccable. They cross brand new sounds with creations from the past with organs and guitars that could have been played on any 60's album. Certainly this is a throwback treat."
The Deli New York
"This psych rock outfit experiments with electric keyboard drones and and live effects, spinning cult classic projections and a passionate frontman. The cool, dark feel of the music - echo-y and chilled - can turn quite loud and plowing, an enveloping vibe to revel in."
TimeOut New York
"The Living Kills blends shoegaze and new wave with coolly compelling results."
The Deli National"Illuminated on stage by projections of vintage Muppets and cult films, The Living Kills play echo-y, strong and plowing psychedelic rock'n'roll."
"Like dutiful musical offspring of the Velvet Underground, the Living Kills play the kind of dark, psychedelic rock that sounds like it should've drifted out of the windows of the Factory in its '60s heyday. 'Wires of Copper,' which comes from the Brooklyn quartet's EP 'You'll Miss Me Most,' brims with trippy nostalgia."
"[T]wo distinctly now-New York moody popsike songs. 'You'll Miss Me Most' is the more succinct and upbeat of the two, but still finds time for a swirling organ driven and reverbed guitar trip down the rabbit hole. 'Wires of Copper' employs a slowed-down 'All Tomorrows Parties'; a plucked guitar drones over a prominent singular bass beat before the organ fills the space around the folks double-tracked female vocals. This one has a longer tail of stacked synths and strings. All in all, a pleasant blend of old and new sounds."
"A four-piece band from Brooklyn playing spaced out 60's/70's psych rock that reminds me of some Yo La Tengo playing Velvet Underground. Good stuff."
Odd Fellows Hall EP
Faceless Angels album
You'll Miss Me Most single
Living Kills T-shirt
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