From the snowy wilds of Manitoba, Kino Kimino landed in New York City, headed across the river to Hoboken and plugged in with half of Sonic Youth to throw down the ten sweetly serrated, sometimes volatile, post-punk songs comprising new album Bait Is for Sissies.
Some other things happened in between, it’s true, but the outline holds: Kino Kimino mastermind Kim Talon is a native of Winnipeg, and the singer and guitarist has since relocated to New York, after a few stops along the way. She recorded Bait Is for Sissies at Sonic Youth’s Echo Canyon West studio, with Lee Ranaldo on guitar and Steve Shelley on drums, along with Melinda Holm on bass. Talon met Ranaldo and Shelley through John Agnello (Dinosaur Jr., Kurt Vile), who produced.
Though Bait Is for Sissies is not Talon’s first album, it is Kino Kimino’s debut. The songs explore betrayal, violence and the feeling of being an outsider, a dramatized response to the end of a romantic relationship that had been founded on deceit. Music was her catharsis and, like always, she returned to Winnipeg to write.
“It’s the third-coldest city in the world. I can focus because it’s a place where there is nothing else,” Talon says. “It’s like going to write an album in the Arctic, basically.”
That isolated feeling is essential for an artist who writes songs in torrents. “I need to get them out in order to clear my mind and move on,” says Talon, who calls herself “an off- the-cuff writer.” “There is an urgency to my writing process, maybe a compulsion that I’m submitting to. The writing process and songs loom constantly, like a haunting.”
Maybe Bait Is for Sissies is more of an exorcism, then, as Talon likens love to mashed potatoes over zooming accompaniment on opener “Passion,” revs up from a brooding verse into a frenetic refrain on “Bloodbath” and bites off precise syllables in a clear, pretty voice that contrasts with the knotty mix of terse guitars and staccato drums on “Loincloth.” She’s defiant over racing guitars on “Chalk Like” and wounded on the lean “We Come Down for the Worst Reasons,” and she sings with preternatural self-assurance as she steers her voice through choppy swells of jagged guitar or patches of discord. It’s no wonder LA Weekly has called Talon’s music “positively entrancing,” while Maxim dubbed her an “artsy rock goddess.”
Like any deity, Talon exists in this world, but not necessarily of it. She’s toured with au courant pop maven Sia, and has also played with Deerhoof and Blake Schwarzenbach of ’90s emo standouts Jawbreaker. She’s recorded with the comic Reggie Watts, and also with Bob Dylan collaborator David Mansfield, who contributed pedal steel guitar to Bait Is for Sissies. In other words, Kino Kimino spans eras.
“I really don’t fit into this world now, the way things are,” Talon says. “I don’t mean that I’m an outcast, but I’m not concerned with the zeitgeist.”
No matter: thanks to Talon’s creative vision and considerable musical ability, Kino Kimino exists in a world all its own.