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Minnesota Music Reviews: Kiss the Tiger

Vicious the Kid

Kiss the Tiger makes “Vicious Kid” come alive

By Mark Nicklawske

Kiss the Tiger records sound great in a pair of headphones, but maybe the best place to hear their work is in a loud, dark bar room with hundreds of beer-soaked fans singing along to every glorious chorus.

Released last month, Vicious Kid, the third full-length album from the Minneapolis rockers, is a throwback to the days when acts like the Rolling Stones and the Pretenders put out records to crash the charts, overthrow the FM airwaves and fuel out-of-control North American tours. It wasn’t enough to listen to Sticky Fingers or Learning to Crawl - it was just as exciting to see those albums performed live.

Like all the above-mentioned bands, Kiss The Tiger has a powerful, charismatic singer leading the way. Front woman Meghan Kreidler dominates this 12-track release, providing a clarity, direction and a cinematic quality that feels custom-built for the stage. That shouldn’t be a surprise: Kreidler, who shares songwriting credits with guitarist Michael Anderson, has a degree from the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theatre BFA program and is an in-demand Twin Cities actress.

The band's resume is impressive too. With Anderson on rhythm guitar, Alex Sandberg on lead guitar, bassist Paul DeLong and drummer Jay DeHut, Kiss the Tiger has been together for five years and racked up all kinds of local music awards.

We’re talking about a Guthrie-caliber actress paired with a Heartbreakers-caliber backing band making a Patti Smith-caliber record.

On the galloping opening track “Motel Room,” Kreidler races the group down a rocky road littered with jumpy pianos, supercharged guitars and a crowd of bystanders yelling “HEY!” 

“Who Does Her Hair” sports a sassy guitar lick and “Weekend” features the old call and response trick paired with meaty power chords.

It’s all arms up and rock n’ roll devil horns in the dance pit.

Throughout the record Kreidler shifts gears faster than a racer at Proctor Speedway and knows when to hit the brakes in the turns. The band hangs on behind like a U-Haul trailer loaded with dynamite.

On the single “Hold On To Love,” Kriedler gives a full-throated plea to a lost lover. “I’ve never felt like this before,” she sings. “I’ll never feel this way again.” The chorus soars to higher and higher levels on an almost endless fade out.

It should be no surprise that an album named Vicious Kid doesn’t have much of a tender side. “I Miss You” is an excellent, organ-driven soul searcher that could fit on Springsteen’s 1980 classic The River and “Ghost Song” is the closest the band gets to a ballad.

The record ends with a Kiss/T-Rex mash-up called “Dinosaur Song,” a noisy and unnecessary stomp through the classic rock graveyard. Maybe next time the band will find a place for something sweet - after all, “Angie” and “Wild Horses” always worked well in a Rolling Stones setlist.

 

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