Las Vegas Sun

October 1, 2014

Currently: 71° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

Columnist Spencer Patterson: Coverage of Killers is alive with variety

Here in Southern Nevada, we rarely get the chance to watch the national music media respond to a local product.

In fact, you could say "Hot Fuss" -- the debut disc released by the Killers on Tuesday -- is the most anticipated album to come out of Las Vegas since Slaughter's 1992 sophomore effort, "Wild Life."

I've been following along all week, curious to see what the country's most popular music magazines and Web sites think of a CD I've been enjoying since my promo copy arrived a couple of months back.

Let's start with the most uninformed. This week's issue of Entertainment Weekly contains a two-sentence review of "Hot Fuss," which music writer David Browne rated a C.

In that tiny amount of copy, Browne demonstrates that he might not have given the 46-minute disc one full spin by referring to the Killers derisively as a "Strokes tribute band."

As Mr. Browne must know, the Strokes don't use any keyboards. The Killers' album is filled with them.

The Strokes are '70s throwbacks, digging up the garage-rock sounds of the Stooges and "Loaded"-era Velvet Underground. The Killers' touchstones are '80s bands such as Duran Duran, the Smiths and the Psychedelic Furs.

The Killers might dress like the Strokes in press photos, wearing skinny ties and suit jackets over jeans, but the similarities really do end there.

On to Rolling Stone. The magazine has yet to review "Hot Fuss," but www.rollingstone.com has posted a brief piece on the album, awarding it 3 1/2 stars (out of five).

That's actually a fairly high mark for Rolling Stone, a publication that seems to grade out 90 percent of the world's albums -- great or atrocious -- with three stars.

Rolling Stone reviewer Jenny Eliscu has a far better handle on the Killers' sound than EW's Browne.

"The Killers threaten to pry dance rock from the steely grip of hipsterdom and thrust it unexpectedly into the mainstream," Eliscu writes, comparing the band to critical darling contemporaries the Rapture and Franz Ferdinand.

Eliscu's final statement -- "This album is all Killers, no filler" -- may be a bit of a stretch. As much as I like "Hot Fuss," I hear some filler toward the end of the front-loaded album. Nothing unpleasant, mind you, just a few tracks I sometimes skip over.

Rolling Stone also included the Killers' brilliant single "Somebody Told Me" in this week's "Hot List," but slightly misquoted the chorus to the song, changing its meaning rather significantly in the process.

Spin has yet to review the disc, although the magazine did list the Killers among its "25 to Watch" in a February piece.

"Their ridiculously catchy songs about girls, jealousy and -- yes -- murder have started a blogging/downloading commotion," the Spin story points out, describing the band's sound as akin to "Interpol covering Duran Duran."

On to the Web sites. Sadly, indie rock gathering place www.pitchforkmedia.com has not reviewed "Hot Fuss" in its entirety, thus I have little of the site's trademark half-baked, long-winded prose to pass along.

But in January the Pitchfork folks got hold of early UK single "Mr. Brightside," the disc's second cut, bestowing three (of five) stars onto the song.

"The Killers seem bathed in the eternal yet false hope and perma-daylight of their native Las Vegas," reviewer Scott Plagenhoef assesses.

Whatever.

The most balanced review I found online came from www.popmatters.com, a five-year-old site that describes itself as an "international magazine of cultural criticism."

Early in his story, reviewer Adrien Begrand bestows mighty praise onto the Killers, rating them above Interpol, Hot Hot Heat, the Rapture and Franz Ferdinand in the pantheon of retro-new wave outfits.

"There's something about the Killers that all those bands lack: flash," Begrand writes. "Maybe it's because they hail from Las Vegas, but whatever the reason, the Killers take that '80s revival idea, gloss it up with shiny production, inflate it with a monstrous, booming sound ... and deliver lots and lots of candy-coated hooks."

Later, after propping up the best tunes, Begrand dismisses some of the lesser cuts on "Hot Fuss."

"The other six tracks get weighed down by too much production, a lack of memorable hooks and some inexplicable musical touches that may have sounded clever in the studio, but wind up sounding disastrous on the CD."

Unfortunately, PopMatters doesn't provide letter or star ratings, so we'll never know how Begrand's mixed opinion might have translated into a final grade.

Overall, though, I'd give the national media a C- for its opening-week coverage of the rare local act to make it beyond Nevada's borders.

Music notes

King me: Regal Village Square 18 (9400 W. Sahara Ave.) will present a one-time screening of "Elvis: '68 Comeback Special" at 7 on Monday night. Tickets are $12.50 in advance and $15 the day of the film.

The event also marks the release of a new three-disc DVD edition of "Elvis: '68 Comeback Special," which includes more than seven hours of live footage.

Also set to hit stores next week: "Elvis: Aloha From Hawaii," a two-disc DVD set showcasing Presley's 1973 Hawaiian concert.

Courtney cancels: Troubled rocker Courtney Love has canceled her entire summer tour -- including a July 18 gig at the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay -- and is reportedly in the process of rescheduling dates. Refunds are available at points of purchase.

Also this week, Britney Spears canceled her "Onyx Hotel" tour, including an Aug. 14 return to the MGM Grand Garden Arena, after injuring her knee during a video shoot.

In other news, the Vines have pulled out of the opening slot on Incubus' summer tour, including an Aug. 14 Thomas & Mack Center date. Sparta has signed on as the new support act. No word yet on whether refunds will be available for Vines' fans.

Quick hits

A look at a few of the shows scheduled to hit Southern Nevada in the next week:

Armed with new guitarist Jason Truby, metal band P.O.D. stops by The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel at 8 tonight with opening acts Blindside, Hazen Street and Lacuna Coil. Tickets are $23.

Fans of poppy punk are in for a big week. First, the Ataris play the Huntridge Theatre at 7 p.m. on Saturday with support from the Kick, Whysall Lane and Reeve Oliver. Tickets are $17.

Then on Tuesday, Blink-182 returns to town for a show at The Joint. The popular Southern California trio were originally scheduled to play the Thomas & Mack Center next Friday before rescheduling for the smaller venue.

Motion City Soundtrack shares Tuesday's bill. Doors are scheduled to open at 7. Tickets are $40.

Panamanian-born pianist Danilo Perez closes out Clark County's "Jazz in the Park" series with an 8 p.m. performance Saturday at the County Government Center Amphitheater. Admission is free.

Perez, best known for his Grammy-winning work with the Wayne Shorter Quintet, released his first new recording as a leader in three years, " ... Till Then," last August.

Rap-metal veterans 311 land at the Orleans Arena on 8 p.m. Wednesday. The Omaha, Neb., quintet have been together for 14 years, a career summarized on this month's "Greatest Hits '93-'03" collection.

Opening the show are the Roots, one of hip-hop's most prolific live acts. The Philadelphia group is set to release "The Tipping Point," the follow-up to 2002's critically acclaimed "Phrenology," later this summer. Tickets are $37.

On sale

Hilary Duff performs at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sept. 3. Tickets are $45.50 and are on sale now at the MGM Grand box office, at TicketMaster outlets, by phone at 474-4000 and at www.ticketmaster.com.

La Ley plays The Joint on Saturday. Tickets are $33 and go on sale at noon on Saturday through the Hard Rock box office and TicketMaster.

Aretha Franklin stops at the House of Blues for a pair of shows Sept. 24 and 25. Tickets are $75-150 and go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday through the House of Blues box office and TicketMaster.

archive