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Sleater-Kinney: The Best Rock Band in America

Posted by May 31st, 2005 No Comments »

Sleater-Kinney – The Woods
Sub Pop Records (2005)
By Chris Clayton

Emo, No-Wave, Neo-New Wave, Post-Punk, Math Rock, Grime, Psych Folk, Intelligent Dance Music, Acid Harp, Jim Henson-hop (aka Muppet-hop), Adult-Contemporary-Wiccan, Amishtronica, Speed Dating Metal!

Yes, the ever-expanding list of musical sub-genres with obnoxious names created mostly by obnoxious music magazines is a bloated bastard. Furthermore, it seems as though many of the current bands that fall into the aforementioned categories have forgotten the importance of what it means to simply ROCK. Even legitimately talented bands and artists that fall into these sub-genres (Interpol, Dizzee Rascal, Devendra Banhart, Richie Hawtin, Big Bird) don’t really rock.

Thankfully, even as we’re inundated with new genres and new bands clamoring to dryhump said genres, a great number of purely rockin’ performers exist to remind us of the importance of guzzling cheep beer while pumping a fist to feedback. Portland’s I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch In The House is one such band. Minnesota’s The Midnight Evils is another. Above ground, the White Stripes do a pretty good job of rocking, as does hip-hop phenom Kanye West, who proves you don’t have to be rock to rock.

But no one rocks harder, or better, than Sleater-Kinney. Since 1997’s Dig Me Out (on which Sleater-Kinney decided they wanted to be rock ‘n rollers instead of riot grrrls) this Portland, Oregon based trio has been releasing loud, unforgiving, politically charged, fire and brimstone-style rock. Rock that makes you want to push and scream and cry and celebrate. Now, with their astoundingly heavy Sub Pop debut The Woods, Sleater-Kinney wins the unofficial title of Best Rock Band in America. Go ahead cynics, snicker all you want. Don’t come crying to me when you can’t hear your Bright Eyes records anymore because listening to The Woods’ 10 ferociously rocking tracks gave you insta-tinnitus.

And just to prove how serious I am when I call Sleater-Kinney the Best Rock Band in America, here’s a track-by-track rundown that explains how each song on The Woods rocks in its own unique way.

1. “The Fox” Rocks because had Columbus heard S-K guitarist/vocalist Corin Tucker scream the lyric Land Ho! when first discovering the New World, he would have been so frightened by her high-pitched, doom-laden voice that he would have had a heart attack and died, which perhaps would have delayed his crew’s systematic raping and killing of native peoples.

2. “Wilderness” Rocks because at the core it is a fuzzy, clomping blues song that contains a solo that sounds like Neil Young is trying, and failing, to wrestle Carrie Brownstein’s electric guitar away from her while under water.

3. “What’s Mine is Yours” Rocks because it sounds like a cooler, heavier, and slower version of the cool, heavy, not-so-slow Queens of the Stone Age song “No One Knows.”

4. “Jumpers” Rocks because Corin Tucker sings the line “Lonely as a Cloud in the Golden State” with such strength and conviction that she makes loneliness sound empowering instead of horribly depressing.

5. “Modern Girl” Rocks because itss a sunshine happy ditty infused with a dog-whistle-subtle current of dread.

6. “Entertain” Rocks because it contains the lyrics “You come around sounding 1972 / You did nothing new with 1972 / Where is the fuck you? / Where is the black and blue?”, a fantastic affront to musical copycats who aren’t that good at copying.

7. “Rollercoaster” Rocks because it sounds a bit like an updated Who song (note: S-K drummer Janet Weiss channels Keith Moon like a madwoman.)

8. “Steep Air” Rocks because the guitars sound like cellos, which usually don’t rock, but here they do. Rock, that is. Plus, DJ Shadow would sample the drums featured on “Steep Air,” which means they’re big.

9. “Let’s Call it Love” Rocks because it’s 11 minutes of Zeppelin-esque heaviness recorded in one take. The improvised guitar assault that fills the track’s latter five minutes will convince all non-believers that S-K are the Best Rock Band in America. Kudos to Dave Fridmann, whose junk-fuzz production really shines.

10. “Night Light” Rocks in a sorrowful, possibly violent way. I have no idea what this means.

Just buy this album. – (9/10)

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