Sound ‘Round: Deap Vally / Sleater-Kinney

Nasty women from the West Coast get noisy

Deap Vally – Femejism (Nevado, 2016)

deap-vally-femejismBikini Kill fanboy and feminist sympathizer Kurt Cobain found solace in knowing the future of rock belonged to women. So during the year in which the fallen grunge hero would have turned 50, let us celebrate the accuracy of his prediction in the form of this two-piece outfit from L.A. Julie Edwards crushes it on the kit while front woman Lindsey Troy handles the mic and guitars. It ain’t punk — the tempos are too methodical and deliberate. Picture instead a rock band in the classic sense: amps to 11, youthful bitterness as fuel with the aim of upsetting the established order. The riffs are dirty and drenched in enough fuzz to match their sassy mouths. Their ethos is simple and American as affordable birth control. “I’m gonna do what I wanna / I’m gonna do it cuz I wanna.” Talk about my kind of women. But there’s more to them than visceral angst. They’re keen enough to know riot-grrrls mature into riot-women and riot-grannies. So they vow to always cling to the rage that propels them and the humor that endears them. Rock is the vehicle, satire is the weapon. The best one liner: “I am not ashamed of my sex life / Though I wish it were better.” You said it, sister. GRADE: A-

Key Tracks: “Smile More” / “Gonnawanna” / “Royal Jelly”

Sleater-Kinney – Live in Paris (Sub-Pop)

A rule of thumb for the uninitiated: avoid live albums in most circumstances. Concerts are fleeting moments meant for those in the room. Rare does the stage successfully translate to tape. So tickle me pink by the power of this iconic band’s first live record taken from a gig at the historic La Cigale. Reunion tours replete with old hits are quick ways for a band to refill its coffers. But Sleater-Kinney is no nostalgia act. Corin Tucker, Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss know there’s no time like the present, hence a track list that largely siphons a 20-year career into their most recent material — including five selections from 2015’s No Cities to Love and four from 2005’s The Woods. From the opening riffs of  the anti-consumerist anthem “Price Tag” to the closing bars of the “Modern Girl,” a deadpan take on false feminism, they prove time and again how vital their brand of post-punk remains. Tucker’s quivering voice plays up the paranoia of these terrible times while Brownstein’s resolute tenor reminds you to always keep the faith. Still not convinced? Dig the furor of “Surface Envy,” with a righteous chorus that doubles as an eternal protest chant for the world’s disaffected. “We win / We lose / Only together do we break the rules.” GRADE: A-

Key Tracks: “Surface Envy” / “Oh!” / “I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone”

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