It’s a School Night has been promoting young and rising artists for many years, and its weekly Monday lineup is often a mixed bag of very diverse genres and styles. Yesterday night, Kills Birds played an explosive set, between an Americana-pop songstress, an upcoming hip hop artist, and an R&B chanteuse.
Kills Birds began as a project between Nina Ljeti and Jacob Loeb in 2017, but soon evolved into a full-fledged band. KRO Records founder Justin Raisen signed Kills Birds to his growing label roster and produced their debut album over an intense eight-hour session.
Kills Birds are like any other young band, they don’t seem to follow any current trend, whether it’s rap or trite pop, but they deliver their songs with a rare intensity, which could be closer to hardcore than anything else. Frontgirl Nina Ljeti is all the rage: with the help of Jacob Loeb’s blistering guitar riffs, Fielder Thomas’ pummeling basslines, and Bosh Rothman’s muscular drumming, she can build up a formidable tension and release it in a visceral moment that leaves you speechless. You shouldn’t look too much for memorable melodies, this is not the point here, the music is built around chaos and discordance and made to be cathartic, while Nina jumps and screams as if her life depended on it. She can unleash a fury while staying sexy, above a scorching sound blending punk, hardcore, and disorienting noise-rock. Their signature biting style could even be reminiscent of Sonic Youth… no wonder Kim Gordon called one of their singles: “Hot as fuck.” During their short career, they also managed to get the attention of Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl who said their music brought him back to the time he first heard bands like the Jesus Lizard and Dinosaur Jr. He invited them to his Studio 606 to record their second album, “Married,” and also said that Kills Birds’ “Volcano” inspired Foo Fighters’ 2021 single “Cloudspotter.” Wow, who would have thought?
On Monday night, they blew up the small stage of Bardot. If some of their songs started with grunge distortion, the chaos and simple lack of structure of their compositions made their performance quite unique: it was filled with ideas, a constant shifting sound, squealing guitars, distorted noise, and Nina’s authoritarian but captivating wail. The public could not detach their eyes from her volcanic and raw stage presence while the sound seemed to erupt from every side of the room.
Plenty of their songs had a slow-burning beginning then would burst into a loud fusion of drums and guitars completed by an incendiary performance, unpacking a lot of rage and anxiety into a cacophony. Meanwhile, the lyrics often resumed in more or less cryptic but simple tirades like… “Pretty girls count scars/ old men, dark bars” (“Jesus Did”)… “PTL give to me, I’ll give to them/Give to me and God will shine” (“PTL =Praise the Lord”). “This flower kills birds/When she dies, she rots like flesh (“Worthy Girl”), “I wish I was a volcano, but I think I’m just a rock” (“Volcano”)…However, everything was delivered with the same blend of emotional engagement and swagger, always reflected by Nina’s theatrics.
They played songs off their second album “Married” and debut self-titled album with the same urgency, often oscillating between loud and quiet, always translating their sonic expression into a confrontational and emotional performance, reflecting the many struggles and overall angst of our times. With their brutal soundscapes and such a famous-musician following Kills Birds has to be an undeniable force in the current LA music scene.
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