Kicking Giant/
Long Hind Legs

Kicking Giant Vs Long Hind Legs
[punK iN My Vitamins CS]

I admit it - I wasn't paying attention when all this "band-Vs-band" business started, so maybe I've missed a significant cultural development; or maybe it's really just a spin-off of the "split"-release gambit. Whatever the case may be, as long as it serves the purpose of a new release, okay? More to the point is that I had no idea this existed until I found it in the bin at Blue Chair in Ybor. There's not very much info on the J-card, so where this fits into the KG chronology I have no idea, and it's my very first introduction to Long Hind Legs, who I'm totally clueless about. Oops!

The tape itself is a rainy day gem in the rough. Each band gets about 15 minutes to roll out their wares, one side apiece - kind of like two EPs back-to-back, in other words. Although in my mind there could be no contest at all if KG are involved, the three tunes contributed by LHL grabbed me by the ears in a lo-fi/low-key sort of way; another two-member contender, if I'm to trust my ears. Two guys harmonizing in a strained, haunting manner against shifting instrumentation, building up a slow, chilling sensation. There's a sneaky side effect that has you checking your own memories to make sure you're really okay, even though you're none too sure of yourself. The subtle growl of a strummed guitar holds things together, as though both players are interchangeable at any moment. There's a good sense of dynamics and counterpoint in the midst of their emotional outpourings; for example, the minimalist percussion on "36", and most notably on "Soda Fine", which features a challenging standoff between guitar and Farfisa organ. If this outfit had a long-player to run free with, I'm sure they'd expand the possibilities of the format, anywhere between Sub-Pop and Shimmy-Disc would probably feel just like home.

The Kicking Giant side was an unexpected surprise in itself. Titled "Hotbox", it actually consists of four separate instrumental tracks [movements of a suite, perhaps?] about four minutes each. The lo-fi recording is reminiscent of their earlier tape releases, which leads me to believe this may have actually preceded the Alien ID. LP. The chemistry here is so even-tempered that the NY/Olympia duo have obviously contemplated their options well-beyond "love rock/punk rock/noise rock" and are making huge strides into rock-oriented compositional scores. Tae Won Yu [guitar and about three seconds of vocals], combines the precise rhythm of surf-beat rhythm with a plucky melodic groove that always seems to suggest other instrumentation altogether. Rachel Carn whips up a frenzied stand-up/stripped-down beat meant for dancing and loving it.

So what's the verdict? hey, I'm not voting - these bands sound like they're good pals, and if they wanna bestow jams like this on our unworthy ears, that's OK by me. It's a smart approach for combining a new sound and a new band in one compact package, and merely whets the appetite for more of both. I hope there's a lot more where this came from.

(all reviews by J. Free) 1999, 2000 The New Puritan ReView.

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