Kittens for Christian

With the Raveonettes and Stellastar. Wednesday, September 17, at the Beachland Ballroom.

The Take Action Tour, featuring Poison the Well, Dillinger Escape Plan, Shai Hulud, and others Agora Theatre, 5000 Euclid Avenue 6 p.m. Monday, September 15, $18, 216-241-5555.
Thanks to a few too many meatheads mired in third-generation Limp Bizkit sludge, mainstream rock bands today appear to be nothing more than exaggerated bundles of unresolved daddy issues and bad facial hair. Vocalist Serj Tankian of the hyperactive kung-fu metallers System of a Down knows a little something about bucking such stereotypes -- and so do Kittens for Christian, one of the first acts signed to Tankian's new Serjical Strike label.

In fact, the Los Angeles trio's distillation of noise and darkness often relates to another caricatured set of rockers, the goths. KFC's label debut, Privilege of Your Company, takes the smoldering riffs of Love and Rockets and the shuddering noise chasms of Bauhaus and sets them to herky-jerky rhythms at brisk tempos that only a Joy Division fan could find danceable. Cuban-born singer Hiram Fleties mimics the ecstatic whine of Robert Smith and the despondency of Ian Curtis when he cries lines like "There's gotta be a reason why I'm never understood" and "Why are you doing this to me now?" But KFC applies a fresh coat of black nail polish to these tired conventions, with catchy songs taut with dramatic tension.

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