Band Of The Week: Sleater-Kinney

Sleater-Kinney

I’ve already mentioned Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss’ new (and sadly now defunct) band Wild Flag, but we’re going back to their roots with Corin Tucker in Sleater-Kinney. Long before her time on Portlandia and her recent stints with Wild Flag, Brownstein was making some of the hardest rock possible, let alone played by women. Taking their name from an interstate exit name, the band led the Riot Grrrl movement with Bikini Kill, but what is perhaps their finest work is their final album, The Woods. 

Opening on the epic “The Fox” the band breaks through any pre-conceived notions of female rockers with fire and destruction, on a track that at time sounds like early Rush with it’s technical proficiency and Tucker’s wailing vocals sounding somewhere between Iron Maiden and battle cries (in a good way). This track’s drumming is mind-boggling to me every time I hear it and completes the heavy feeling already brought by the guitars perfectly.  “The Wilderness” starts with Brownstein’s sassy vocals before jumping back to the battle cries of Tucker, although starting lighter and more open than “The Fox” the song eventually drops to its heavy section and Brownstein’s vocals get a better impact. “What’s Mine Is Yours” plays with stereo well before giving a drum fill I crave every time I hear it, each bridge gives distant cries from Tucker while drums pound away making a well crafted sonic section that not only rocks but messes with your head a bit.

“Jumpers” seems a little bland on first impression but once its chorus, Tucker’s vocals mix with the heavy jam to take you back to heavy side the album keeps jumping back and forth to. The bridge kicks things into high-gear and drops you into ripping solo and vocal line of Brownstein of “You’re not the only one” that will become more addictive with each listen. “Modern Girl” is the surprisingly light track on the album, providing a more commentary heavy track, bright enough to be pleasing and both insightful and thought out enough to keep you interested, it’s a track that despite its heavy contrast shouldn’t be skipped.

The album manages its best blend of Tucker and Brownstein’s vocals on “Entertain” letting them Brownstein take the lighter verses and parts of the chorus while Tucker’s shrills dominate the chorus. The “1-2-3!” bridge is vicious and commanding and brings the song back in with controlled chaos.

“Rollercoaster” drops a more riff heavy song in that switches between distortion rock and the band’s heavy and relentless attack. “We had a good time at the beginning” is one of the album’s catchiest lines and its bridge opens the Pandora’s Box releasing all the heavy chaos while keeping some amazingly harmonized ooo’s.

The album closes on the appropriately heavy “Everything” which never feels held back as much as it feels like it’s always building. The drums go ballistic, guitars explode, shrieks are constant and appropriate. It’s the band’s explosive send off to an album constantly straddling the line between control and chaos.

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