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Juliette and the Licks

Juliette Lewis has always projected danger. As early as 1990's Too Young to Die?, she seemed not-quite-right; like a person you couldn't help but watch but might not want to meet. Those who picked up on the vibe were proved right by 1994's Natural Born Killers, in which the then- 21-year-old actress spent two hours making Woody Harrelson look normal and in which her killing spree was manifestly less unsettling than her chatter, facial ticks, and laugh. This, more than anything, is the onscreen portrayal most analogous to the fiery presence she channels when fronting Juliette and the Licks; a basic, dirty rock 'n' roll combo that gets its wings in equal parts from vitriol, Iggy & the Stooges, Patti Smith, what sounds like early Aerosmith, and the dangerous characters living in Juliette Lewis' head. The band gets into a low-brow, high-energy rock 'n' roll throb, clamps down tight, and Lewis explodes, yelling, singing, making rude noises, ignoring any notion of polish or politesse and throwing herself headlong into whatever maelstrom the music summons. This really is the very thing Patti Smith used to do, and sometimes it's hard to tell the two apart. The difference is this: Lewis is still more a deranged actress than a mad poet, and she usually chases terror rather than transcendence. But terror has its own rewards, and October 30 is probably a good night to discover them.

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Brandon K. Thorp

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