Tag Archives: Sleater-Kinney

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”


Sound Round: D’Angelo and the Vanguard / Sleater-Kinney

As if they never left

D’Angelo and the Vanguard – Black Messiah (RCA, 2014)

d'angelo and the vanguard - black messiahR&B Jesus resurrects his career on this oft-delayed comeback suddenly bestowed upon the world immediately following the fallout in Ferguson, Missouri. An album once shrouded in perpetual myth and prophecy is now fully formed, crafted in the image of its maker. The liner notes, penned by the auteur himself, imply a strictly political affair regarding black pride, racial harmony and global peace. “All we wanted was a chance to talk / But we’ve only got outlined in chalk,” he laments on America’s never-ending disregard for people of color. But D’Angelo is too in love with pussy to proselytize at length. When he’s not sampling Fred Hampton or Khalid Abdul Muhammad of the Black Panthers, he’s pleading, moaning, groaning, sweating and crying for sexual pleasure. The bedroom jams are lither than his socially conscious hymns, but they’re also less surprising in musical texture. That’s not to say you’ll be able to discern even half of the lyrics, as he buries his shape-shifting voice under a bevy of polyrhythmic percussions, Latin guitar and new-soul-as-old-soul ambiance. Obscuring the verses isn’t meant to hamper the messages, but rather mesh and thereby enhance them into one defining mantra: Love is peace, love is war, love is salvation. Amen.  GRADE: A

Key Tracks: Really Love” / “The Charade” / “Sugah Daddy

Sleater-Kinney – No Cities to Love (Sub Pop)
Sleater-Kinney - No Cities to LoveIn which America’s favorite femme punks return unannounced from a 10-year sabbatical, they once again exhibit their fighting mentality, albeit with their weapons aimed at different targets. They’ll forever be hailed as the originators of post-modern feminist rock, but this comeback is more personal than political. Aside from the opening number which protests the exploitation of the middle class, the remaining nine songs find the ageless Corin Tucker dwelling on more existential matters: the meaning of fame in the digital age and the waning influence of rock bands such as her own. Different battles, yes, but all fought with familiar ammunition. Tucker’s big-throated yelp of a voice shows no evidence of decay, and the guitar riffs remain defiantly melodic despite their knotty construction. Some tastemakers have expressed disappointment in the lack of a go-to girl-power anthem, but such a critique is lazy and pigeon holes a band that has always reflected a state of being as opposed to an explicit agenda. Those looking for profundity might miss one hell of a rallying chant on “Surface Envy,” an ode to their devout fan base: “We win, we lose / Only together do we break the rules.” So concise, simple and potent, they sum up in two lines what Run the Jewels has failed to say in two albums. GRADE: A

Key Tracks:Surface Envy” / “No Anthems” / “Fangless