Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Kiss Me Deadly “What You Do in the Dark”

Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jen Poland teamed up with two other musicians, bassist/guitarist Evan Lieberman and drummer Madelyn Hayes, to create a Rock and Roll outfit called Kiss Me Deadly. Taking their various influences, the band is currently creating a style that is rather timeless. It’s timeless because the ensemble’s sound makes use of straight-out Rock and Roll that existed that the very same time as Disco and New Wave music that was not played on Top 40 Radio but College Radio.

The style that Kiss Me Deadly creates would be right at home on College radio formats during the late seventies/early eighties. The unique blend of music in Kiss Me Deadly’s style sounds as fresh today as it would have back in the late seventies/early eighties.

Making use of their unique sound, Kiss Me Deadly created a full-length release that shows off the band’s sound. The band’s current release is called What You Do in the Dark.

What You Do in the Dark from Kiss Me Deadly begins with the track “Lady Killers”. The music of the track features a Rock and Roll approach that is equal parts Jazz and rock and Roll. The combination creates a strong, driving pace to the music while still containing a slightly laidback feel. The lyrics about two people who apparently want different things give the song a bit of an edge that adds to the low-key feel of the music.

The current release from Kiss Me Deadly continues with “Agent”. With this track, the trio adds a lot of energy into their music. In fact, the track features a very strong guitar solo that flows through a nice amount of the song. Like “Lady Killers,” the song before it, “Agent” picks up the angry feel of the lyrics. But with this song, Jen Poland sings about leaving the unfaithful behind.

On the song “Stalemate,” Kiss Me Deadly creates a track that features a large amount of Soul influence to the band’s Rock and Roll sound. With the inclusion of the wah-wah pedal on the track’s music, the band creates a song with a definite vintage feel. The song would easily have felt at home on radio during the late seventies/early eighties. While the majority of the tracks on What You Do in the Dark feature Jen Poland’s vocals, “Stalemate” features vocals from both Poland and drummer Madelyn Hayes in a musical approach that brings to mind a band like Heart.

Easily one of the best tracks on the current release from Kiss Me Deadly is the title track of the album. “What You Do in the Dark” is yet another track that features a sound that would fit in with songs from the eighties. And while it would fit in during that era, there is also a little bit of influence in the music that takes the track back to the sixties. It is a slightly psychedelic feel on the lead guitar on the track that gives that sixties vibe to the song.

Another one of the tracks that stand out on the What You Do in the Dark release from Kiss Me Deadly is the song “Yard”. Of the songs on the album, “Yard” has one of the most commercial sounds within it. And with the inclusion of keyboards and banjo to the music, the song features easily the most depth to the music of any song on the release. In fact, the more you listen, the more things in the instrumentation that will pop out at you. “Yard” is one track that will grab you attention.

The ten tracks that make up the vinyl version of the What You Do in the Dark release from Kiss Me Deadly come to an end with the song “P.S.” With this track, the trio creates a song that is very reminiscent of the pop/rock music that was created by all-girl bands like Bananarama. The vocals on the track are created by both Jen Poland and Madelyn Hayes as they sing the lyrics in unison. Like much of the album, the music of the track “P.S.” is highly influenced by songs from the eighties. With the inclusion of an entire group of “extras,” the second half of the song contains an entire chorus that helps to sing the refrain of the song. Altogether, the track ends up being one of the strongest moments on the What You Do in the Dark release.

While the vinyl version of the What You Do in the Dark comes complete with ten tracks, the CD version of the release includes two more tracks (songs that are included on a separate 2-song vinyl for the record version). The stronger of the two bonus tracks happens to be Kiss Me Deadly’s arrangement of Cleveland-native Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ song “I Put a Spell on You”. While Hawkins’ hit single is rather dark and sinister, Kiss Me Deadly creates a version that brings the tune to life with a lot more Blues influence. As no one can touch the emotions contained within the original version by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, the bluesier version by Kiss Me Deadly is an interesting way to go and the song ends up being just as entertaining as the original.

The trio of Jen Poland, Evan Lieberman and Madelyn Hayes makes the band of Kiss Me Deadly a strong musical outfit that stays close to the true feeling of Rock and Roll. Drawing from  many different influences, the band’s music will satisfy both Modern Rock lovers and fans of older Rock and Roll, as well.

To check out the music of Kiss Me Deadly, check out the band’s song “Lady Killers“.

For more information, check out the band’s record label of Kingswood Records.

To check out the album of What You Do in the Dark from Kiss Me Deadly, click on the album cover below: