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Curse and Kisses is a rumbling joy ride of heavy-rock influences, powerful lyrical images and nervy attitude. Put it all together and you have something that front man Rudy calls “orgasmic rock – rock music that gives you extreme pleasure.”
A hard-driving, straight-talking amalgamation of styles, this Orlando, Florida-based act pulls no punches, either in its subject matter or musical ambitions. As frank as Curse and Kisses so often is about desire, drugs and the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle, that “underlying current of sex and glitter” is only out-shined by “the music’s glistening grime,” said music critic Bryan Rodgers. “The sound is one of conflict and aggression, almost like shock metal cut with a dusting of progressive rock and funk.”
Curse and Kisses defies easy categorization, and Rudy – the band’s main producer, singer, songwriter and only official member – would have it no other way: “If you listen to my music,” Rudy says, “it will speak for itself.” He’s just released a varied, endlessly intriguing new self-titled EP of four songs – each of which finds new ways to showcase the band’s unique personality, pile-driving riffs and Rob Zombie-esque combination of the scary and the sensual.
“Zombie,” for instance, is a tough-minded song that explores the shattering world of addiction. Curse and Kisses offers no pat answers, however, underscoring both the weaknesses that lead people down that road, and the strength it takes to take a different path: “There are truly haunting moments within this song,” said music critic Rhonda Readence, “and other moments rife with a dark edge.”
Curse and Kisses prides itself on those kinds of ever-shifting musical textures – something that adds an arresting power to its performances. The band can move with fluid ease from heavy riffing to a thunderous groove, then dial the emotion down to a pinpoint with standout tracks like “Blue Eyes,” a unique blending of punk and theatrical metal. Curse and Kisses continues to explore a dark and thrilling sound-scape with the title track, which slows to an almost primordial pace as Rudy opens up heart-wrenching old wounds – very much in the style of Nine Inch Nails or System of a Down.
This kind of musical complexity, as dangerous as it is compelling, has always been a goal for Rudy, who started playing music at age 13 and found his life’s calling: “I can provide aggression and subtlety in one song,” Rudy says. “My music is like a roller coaster.”
Rudy also boasts an impressive vocal range, an important requirement for a singer who’s so emotionally committed to the work. That’s perhaps best heard on the Alice Cooper-inspired “Stone Cold Freak” – a standout track from Cruse and Kisses’ new EP that features everything from “Lenny Kravitz-like soul-slinging to fiery growling,” Rodgers said. Throughout, the passion for music, for his craft, is visceral. Music, Rudy says, “is a natural high that’s everywhere, if you listen closely.”
Rudy hears it, all the time, and that feeds into the fervent, unapologetic inventive creativity found throughout Curse and Kisses’ work: “I am real, and here to stay,” Rudy says, “regardless if I make money. Music is why I’m breathing. It’s my life.”