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Kiss Kiss flirts with darkness on new CD

New York-based indie rock band Kiss Kiss recently finished up a tour in support of their newly released sophomore album, “The Meek Shall Inherit What’s Left,” which dropped July 7 from Eyeball Records.

Their four-week tour with Fake Problems kicked off in Columbia, S.C., June 25 and just wrapped up July 21 with a gig at Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett, L.I.

Vocalist and keyboardist Josh Benash said the band members were proud of their new record, and were eager to play it live for the first time. “Our goal with live performances is to create an atmosphere of cathartic energy,” said Benash.

The band is made up of Benash, violinist Rebecca Schlappich, guitarist Michael Pat Abiuso, bassist Patrick Southern and drummer Jared Karns. Kiss Kiss has described itself as “a pop band withschizophrenic urges for the avant-garde” and “dark orchestral rock music for the slightly demented.”

The band was formed in 2003. Two of the band’s founders, Benash and Karns, are still with the band while the other three joined after the original formation.The group first formed at SUNY-Purchase, where Joshua Benash and Jared Karns had previously played in other bands, but with its new members the group also has strong Queens roots. Abiuso is a native of Bayside, while Schlappich lives in Astoria.

“The Meek” was written during a difficult period of Benash’s life, which included bouts of depression, a vocal polyp and a vocal node, which left him silent for many weeks of vocal rest during which he feared he might not be able to sing again. To get through it all, he spent a lot of his time writing new songs.

“He was miming ideas to us, writing on chalk boards. It was quite a process, but it’s been great,” said Schlappich. “I love this album. I feel like it’s a little more grown up for us,” she said. “It’s a darker, heavier, more orchestrated album.”

The album features drums, bass, guitars, basic keyboards, live pianos, a string quartet and brass choir recorded on analog master tapes, and then transferred to Pro Tools at the studio. After resting his voice, Benash recorded the vocals and tweaked the songs in a rented room in a Saugerties, N.Y., house over a four-month period.

Abiuso described “The Meek” as darker than the old albums, a lot heavier, a little less quirky and less poppy.

The 45-minute album features string arrangements (“If They Only Knew”), an Eastern European flavor (“Innocent I”) and songs with pop undertones (“Plague #11”).

“It’s really awesome to finally have it out in stores and in people’s hands,” Schlappich said.

Their previous albums include a self-titled EP (2005) and “Reality vs. The Optimist” (2007), their first full length album, also with Eyeball KiRecords.

Kiss Kiss doesn’t perform much in the New York City area. According to Abiuso, “Sometimes we get offered shows and play once or twice per month, but we try not to because it’s a really hard market and we don’t want to oversaturate it.”

Their next show in the city is scheduled for 6 p.m. Sept. 20 at theBowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey St. in Manhattan, with Thursday, The Fall of Troy, Young Widows and Moving Mountains.

To keep up with future Kiss Kiss tours, visit myspace.com/kisskiss. Their albums, including “The Meek,” are available for purchase online at eyeballrecords.com.

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