Miss TK & The Revenge
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Miss TK & The Revenge

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Miss TK and the Revenge
''XOXO'' (Gern Blandsten)
-by Ben Sisario

If the 80's revival is dead, Miss TK never got the message. And I'm glad she didn't: Her first album, ''XOXO,'' is the effortlessly stylish, no-frills-but-for-the-vintage-synthesizer romp through New Wave that Gwen Stefani and Le Tigre never made. And, as the notes for the album proudly state, it was recorded in ''a sweltering basement in Asbury Park.''

Miss TK, born Tannis Kristanjson, is New Jersey punk royalty. Her husband, Ari Katz, sang in an influential 90's band, Lifetime, and when it disbanded, the two formed Zero Zero, taking a hard left turn from the pained earnestness of emo punk into a lighthearted, 80's-influenced dance sound centered around Miss TK's keyboards.

With her new project, the Revenge, she steps out from behind the keyboard as a coiffured, street-smart diva seemingly straight out of a Toni Basil video. With spare but irresistibly catchy tunes that recall the Missing Persons and other heroes of early MTV -- one song, ''Fake Italians Ain't No Stallions,'' has a guitar part that's a dead ringer for MTV's old jingle -- she slurs and squeals her way from one sassy pose to another, complaining about a rock star boyfriend in ''Your Show'' and tipping her hat to an insouciant heroine in ''Unicornicopia (I Love Nico).''

The lyrics don't go much deeper than ''Hey baby yeah/I want you yeah/Don't walk away,'' but it doesn't matter much. Miss TK (and Mr. Katz, on drums and synthesizers) learned an important lesson from the original New Wave: it's all about attitude.

- The New York Times


As if the pink sparkles, rainbows, hearts, and unicorns that decorate the cover of Miss TK & the Revenge's debut album, XOXO, aren't enough clues that this band cherishes all things fun, girly, and oh-so '80s, listening to their new wave and dance-pop-inspired musical confections confirms that these are their obsessions. Fortunately, their obsessiveness is infectious: XOXO is a sweet and playful album that should appeal to anyone who likes the frothier, frillier side of new wave. Like many of the new wave revivalists of the 2000s, Miss TK (aka Tannis Kristanjson, who along with husband/drummer Ari Katz used to be in Lifetime and later, Zero Zero) channels Blondie, but she does so in a softer, breathier way than most of her contemporaries. The sassiness of Cyndi Lauper, Missing Persons, and countless other female-fronted new wave bands is also a major influence, particularly on the cheeky "Fake Italians Ain't No Stallions." Brief outbursts like "Locals Only" nod to harder-edged punk, but the album's poppiest, pinkest moments are the best: "Hey Baby Yeah," "Nowhere to Go," "Don't Call Me," and "Elevator" are energetic, innocent, and knowing -- everything that made girly new wave fun the first time around as well as in the 2000s. On songs like the irresistible "Sunshine, Sunshine, Where Are You?," Miss TK and crew are so hooky that they come across like a scruffier version of No Doubt. "Unicornucopia (I Love Nico)" is another standout, a delicate but driving track that makes the most of the album's spare production. The bareness of XOXO's sound leaves some of the tougher-sounding songs, such as "Your Show" and "Basement Demo," sounding a little constrained. However, this is a minor quibble with an album that's as sweetly retro as Love's Baby Soft or a bubblegum Lip Smacker; as Miss TK sings on "Concentrate," this album is the perfect soundtrack for "Dancing in my room/Catching my reflection." - ~ Heather Phares, All Music Guide



Featuring the vocals of Miss TK (former keyboard player for Zero Zero), Miss TK & The Revenge combine punk elements from the 1970s with disco elements from the 1980s to create a thumpy and slightly erotic sound. The band's approach is something like a cross between Cyndi Lauper, Missing Persons, and Siouxsie and the Banshees. XOXO is a short album...only lasting about a half an hour. But in that short amount of time, Miss TK and friends pack in a lot. This album features no less than twelve tunes of feelgood dance pop. Some of the electronic drums make the music sound quite dated. Otherwise, this is a fun album of modern upbeat dance pop. Top picks: "Banana," "Hey Baby Yeah," "Sunshine, Sunshine, Where Are You?" (Rating: 4+++)

- LMNOP


Discography

Here We Go! - compilation (2003)
-Chunksaah! Records
XOXO - LP (2004)
-Gern Blandsten Records
EP vol. 1 & vol. 2 (release date Spring 2008)
-Onward & Upward

Photos

Bio

"The effortlessly stylish, no-frills-but-for-the-vintage-synthesizer romp through New Wave that Gwen Stefani and Le Tigre never made."
-THE NEW YORK TIMES

"Miss TK dances through her glittering musical fantasy world where Cyndi Lauper and Dale Bozzio ride unicorns and trade sticker books." -INSOUND.COM

"Miss TK's bouncy vocals, and the shimmering backing track, evoke the feeling of the final bus ride home that heralded the beginning of an endless summer vacation." -POP MATTERS

Miss TK & The Revenge is comprised of New Jersey punk rock royalty. Ari Katz, vocalist of seminal hardcore legends LIFETIME (DecayDance) and ZERO ZERO (Jade Tree) steps back from the mic and onto the drum kit while wife Miss TK (also of Zero Zero) takes center stage, delivering future power sounds, dub wise hooks, and trouble funk beats. MTKR are further anchored by razor sharp J5 on guitar, Worrell prodigy Street Stylz on keys, Le Bobby Neutronique with Bells Claps Whistles, and m. Groovesteau l'ingenieur du bas.

MTKR formed in late 2003 seeking to rebound from the record labels that had previously promised but never delivered on (hence 'Revenge'). After appearing on a Chunksaah! Records (Bouncing Souls, World/Inferno Friendship Society) compilation, Gern Blandsten Records (Ted Leo, Rye Coalition, Radio 4) quickly picked up on their infectious dance-punk rhythms and signed them in 2004 to release their debut "XOXO". An instant underground classic, "XOXO" became the template of Punk, New Wave, Funk, and Pop that so many of today's bands are emulating.

In the summer of 2006, Music Supervisor (and New Jersey native) Toby Record licensed their song “Sunshine, Sunshine, Where Are You?” from “XOXO” for the feature film “I’m Reed Fish”. He became an instant fan and when he heard the demos for the NO BITERZ EP, he realized he had several potential hits on his hands. He became their manager, implemented a 'licensing-over-record-label-approach', and immediately turned over the demos to his good friend David Kahne, a Grammy winning, multi-platinum Producer (Paul McCartney, Tony Bennett, The Bangles, Sublime). David offered to produce and mix the EP and the results speak for themselves. The first single “No Biterz” was featured on influential Los Angeles radio station Indie 103.1 on 'Passport Approved' and also licensed for a national ad campaign for Clearasil. The driving "Future Power" was licensed to former Vice President Al Gore's Current TV Channel and "No Biterz" was also offered up for a remix contest through influential music blog Big Stereo (winning remix is on the EP) and has gained promo sponsorship through Fox Racing Inc. All this without a record label or publishing!

Miss TK & The Revenge’s NO BITERZ EP mixes Pop, New Wave, Synth Pop, Dancehall, Disco, Indie, and Punk into a juggernaut that shakes and bakes even the most ardent dance junkies! Also, look out for Miss TK & The Revenge's music on ABC Television's "Samurai Girl", Summer 2008.