New: Luscious Jackson, Nite Jewel, Ting Tings, Screaming Females
Pop & Hiss takes a look at some of the week's notable new music, in handy, bite-sized form. This week: Luscious Jackson, Nite Jewel, Screaming Females and the Ting Tings.
This post has been corrected. See note at the bottom for details.
• Nite Jewel, the smooth synth project of L.A. musician Ramona Gonzalez, has released a second single from the forthcoming album, “One Second of Love.” “In the Dark” could be the score to a quiet, walking-the-downtown-streets moment in a late '80s movie for single ladies, a less hyperactive “After Hours” but with a female protagonist. From its opening blanket of synths to its few feathery guitar riffs, everything about “In the Dark” is designed to go down easy but not without thought. Gonzalez, her vocals deeply influenced by R&B sirens of the '90s but on the mellow tip, descends into her lower register to stir up the song’s inky liquid center. It’s highly recommended, along with the first single, the more club-popping “One Second of Love.” -- Margaret Wappler
• Though a handful of songs from the Ting Tings' 2008 debut "We Started Nothing" became ubiquitious in commercials and movie teasers, the snappy English pop duo are weirder than they let on. At their most high-spirited, the duo of singer/guitarist/rock 'n' roll cheerleader Katie White and drummer/producer Jules de Martino are a dance-rock equivalent of a cartoon pep rally, slapping together punk guitars, New Wave coldness and brassy vocals. "Soul Killing," the latest peek into the sophomore album "Sounds from Nowheresville," due March 13, shows the band's knack for bridging the familiar and the wacky. The band at first seems to be striking a reggae groove, but the rocking-chair beat and chant of "they will never hold us down" soon starts to feel more like a nod to Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall." Yet the Ting Tings remain all attitude. White sings, raps and chants, and the mix of hand-claps and vibrating rhythms -- the sound of a heavily synthesized vibrating metal sheet -- recalls the jerkiness of the Clash's "This is Radio Clash." -- Todd Martens
• Luscious Jackson was everywhere in the '90s, whether opening for R.E.M. or at Lollapalooza. The first signees to the Beastie Boys' Grand Royal label, the foursome had a stylish but always laid-back appeal to their music, built of the most fun-loving elements of hip-hop, old soul and '70s punk. After retiring some 10 years ago, LJ have returned, inspired by the new era of independent music that allows a band to directly connect with their fans (middle man, step off). LJ's new song is no "Naked Eye"; in fact, "Are You Ready?" is a bit hampered by a backing guitar loop that sounds like a '90s Lenny Kravitz discard, as well as a sort of limp call to arms, but the band's sense of rhythm is wonderfully intact and the song's put together well. Still in the process of recording new music, Jill Cunniff, Gabby Glaser and Kate Schellenbach hope to have a new record complete in six months. -- MW
• The Screaming Females should provide a fix for anyone who's been lamenting the lack of guitar solos on the pop charts today. "It All Means Nothing," from the forthcoming album "Ugly," due April 3, is a torrent of six-string wizardry and knock-you-on-your-knees vocal aggression, much of it from frontwoman/guitarist Marissa Paternoster. It's the lead-off track on "Ugly," and the song unfolds as an aural tug-of-war. Halfway through, the band takes a detour, cutting the reverb and showing that a guitar assault doesn't always have to be the screeching kind. Things soon pick up and disappear again, but Paternoster never lets up, stretching and torturing syllables as if they're just another instrument to be toyed with. -- TM
[For the Record, Feb. 13, 11:07 a.m.: An earlier version of this post said the Ting Tings' "Sounds From Nowheresville" was out Feb. 21. It is out March 13. The album can be pre-ordered beginning on Feb. 21.]
Photos, from top: Nite Jewel (Credit: Secretly Canadian); Luscious Jackson from 1997, with Jill Cunniff, Vivian Trimble (no longer in the band), Gabby Glaser and Kate Schellenbach (handout).