This weeks Bands You Should Know takes us back to Chicago once again for another local band that I am a fan of, Kill Hannah.  Some of you may already know Kill Hannah because of their 2006 track, Lips Like Morphine.  The song hit 37 on the US Modern Rock Chart.  The other song they are known for is “Kennedy” which was featured in the show Jack & Bobby.  Sadly though, that has been the only single they had that did chart, which I think is a shame because I think they have a rather unique sound.
They also prove that sometimes a break up is a good thing.  Devine had been dating a woman named Hannah while in the band In a Jar UK.  Eventually Hannah and Mat split.  Mat decided to print up some stickers with “Kill Hannah” on them to put on the band’s 7” records.  Eventually in 1993 Kill Hannah was born.
Kill Hannah has had songs in movies, tv shows, toured the world and even opened for acts such as Papa Roach, AFI, Jane’s Addiction and 30 Seconds to Mars.  Hell, they even appeared on Last Call with Carson Daly (ok, granted nobody watched that show but still).  So it’s a bit strange to me that they’re still stuck on the runway and haven’t quite taken off.  They even hold the record for most sellouts at The Metro in Chicago.  The band currently consists of Mat Devine, Dan Wiese, Greg Corner, Elias Mallin and Michael Maddox.
Kill Hannah’s music is classic 90’s rock with a bit of industrial and electronica thrown in, there’s a hint of Stabbing Westward that comes through, though Kill Hannah isn’t quite as heavy.  The band looks like an emo act, super tight clothes and pretty hair, but thats all they share with that genre, the music is far better than almost all of those acts.  In fact, if I had to guess, I would think some of those bands looked at Kill Hannah and ripped off their style.  The guitar work is great and there are some nice electronic sounds here and there also.  The drums are pretty solid and Devine’s vocals are rather unique.

The band has released  8 studio albums, some self released and hard to find, so far and plan on recording a 9th in 2012.  The band also toured the UK in March of 2012 and is playing Wicker Park Fest in Chicago this July 28th.  If you’re going to be in Chicago, check them out, if not check out one of the 6 albums below.


The Beauty in Sinking Ships (1996)

Ah, the first album, sadly I no longer can find my copy, and can’t find a copy anywhere.  In fact, to be honest, it was self released and I have no idea how he got it.  it seems to be extremely rare and hard to find.  So all I can tell you is from memories of the day, I had been out of highschool for about a year and a buddy of mine, Bill knew I was a fan of Stabbing Westward and thought I would like Kill Hannah also.  He was right, like I said above the style was similar, Stabbing was harder rock to me then Hannah, but I thought Kill Hannah’s vocals and lyrics were slightly better.  Of course back then I never bought the album, I just copied his onto cassette tape, which I have since lost or thrown out because, well, I haven’t played a cassette tape in about 15 years.  If I ever find it or find a copy, I’ll revise this section.

Here Are the Young Moderns (1998)

This is basically the exact story as above, Bill played this one for me as well, but I have no idea where my cassette copy of his is.  I was able to find 2 of them, both used, on Amazon…for 129.99, which to me is a bit much since most of the tracks are available on two other albums. Hyperactive, Get Famous and Nerve Gas can be found on American Jet Set, the next album.  Stunt Pilots, Hummingbirds The Size of Bullets, Love Sick, Sleeping Like Electric Eels and Kill Hannah can be found on The Curse of Kill Hannah.

American Jet Set (1999)

This is the first Album I bought.  It’s a great album and I’ve listened to it many times.  In fact, you can actually still find this one, but its out of print and pretty rare.  You may be able to get it digitally on itunes or Amazon, but I haven’t checked.  I also love the cover, reminds me Throughout the album you can hear great vocals, great guitars and drums and a great use of keyboards.  Yup I said keyboards, and they’re used properly.  Like I said in the section above, 3 of the tracks are from the last album.  Most of the tracks are pretty solid, but I will admit that the song Get Famous, is a bit, well cheesy maybe, well lyrically anyway, although it still sounds pretty good.  My favorite tracks off of this album are All That He Wants (American Jet Set), Nerve Gas, Sick Boy, Los Angeles and A New Medicine.

For Never & Ever (2003)

For Never & Ever is the first major label debut for Kill Hannah.  Released under Atlantic Records and Produced by Sean Beavan, it’s the album that spawned the single “Kennedy” which was featured in the TV show Jack & Bobby.  It has a more refined and clean sound, but it still has the same power and sound that the other albums all had.  It’s kind of like waxing a Ferrari, the car looks good anyway, but it looks better with some shine.  The guitar work and drumming is as good if not better then previous efforts and the vocals are still solid.  The lyrics are deeper and more meaningful, which usually happens with age and experience. My favorite tracks off of this album are Kennedy, 10 More Minutes, New Heart for Christmas, From Now On,  Raining All The Time, Unwanted and Is Anyone Here Alive?

The Curse of Kill Hannah (2004)

In 2004 The Curse of Kill Hannah was released.  Curse is pretty much a best of, from 96-98.  Not really sure why it was put out, but 4 of the tracks were from Here are the Young Moderns and 1 from The Beauty in Sinking Ships.  I don’t have the album so I really can’t say much about it other then it seems to be rare also, as is most of their early stuff.  You can find it on Amazon, ranging in price from 13 to 30 dollars.

Until There’s Nothing Left of Us (2006)

3 years after mild success with For Never and Ever, Kill Hannah released Until There’s Nothing Left of Us.  It was the 2nd major label release, again on Atlantic and Roadrunner in the UK.  Unlike the last album, recorded in LA, Kill Hannah came home to Chicago to record this album.  Recorded at Groovemaster Studios and Produced by Johnny K and Sean Ray Molino it spawned the song Lips Like Morphine, which hit 37 on the US Modern Rock Chart.  The album itself reached 8th on the Top Heatseekers chart, but only 178th on the Billboard 200.  Once again the album was polished and sounded more atmospheric than the others and also a bit more glam rock and some tracks are a bit poppy, but it still sounds great.  Even with the minor changes when you hear it, it’s still easily recognizable as Kill Hannah.  In fact even though its a slight departure (extremely slight) from the other albums, It’s one of my favorites.  My favorite tracks?  You know I’m just going to say the whole album, not because I’m lazy, but because I think its that good.

Wake Up The Sleepers (2009)

Wake Up The Sleepers is the latest release from Kill Hannah and was released in 2009.  It was also the album that marked the return to a independent label, leaving Atlantic for Original sound.  While they “left” for an independent, Original Sound is still an affiliate of Universal.  The album itself builds on what they started with Until There’s Nothing Left Of Us and expands that sound a bit more.  The production is top notch and as good as anything out there.
Too me, most of the tracks are a bit on the mellow side but still sound good.  There is a bit more of an 80’s new wave and electronic vibe to some of the tracks on the album.  The lyrics are a bit deeper and there are a few guest artists (Benji Madden, Amanda Palmer, Chibi and Matt Skiba)  Personally I think Amanda Palmer was well worth it, but Madden was kind of a throw away for me.  All he did was some harmonies, he wasn’t really featured much.
A lot of the other reviews I have read for this album praise and say it’s the best Kill Hannah album ever, I disagree, I Like it and think it’s very solid, but not the best.  For me, I guess the best is a tie between Until There’s Nothing Left Of Us and American Jet Set.  As for the best tracks on this album, well here they are.  Radio, New York City Speed, Living in Misery, Tokyo (Dance In The Dust), Mouth To Mouth, Vultures (Be There For Me), Acid Rain and Laika.

Conclusion

Since the mid 90’s when I first heard Kill Hannah they have continued to evolve but kept their sound.  I think they have gotten better with age and with a new album supposedly coming out in 2012/2013 the future looks bright.  So if you’re looking for something new that you’ve never heard check out Kill Hannah, and thanks for reading!

-JP