"You guys must have to relearn tons of shit, huh?"
January 12, 2015 11:40 AM   Subscribe

Sleater-Kinney's new album No Cities To Love is streaming at both NPR and the CBC. While you listen, read some of the justifiably hagiographic praise of the band within. (Or just rock out?)

If you'd rather have some pretty pictures, try TrojanDynasty's Imgur gallery of the deluxe Sub-Pop box set. Or, if you'd like moving pictures and some sounds other than the album, watch the band's recent appearance on The Chris Gethard Show.
posted by Going To Maine (67 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
 
Man, S-K is so much something I should love, and I will give this new album an open-minded try, but to this point their music just does not do it for me, they do seem awesome though. (and my goodness is Carrie a good guitar player).
posted by Cosine at 11:56 AM on January 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


The new album sounds great. SK is so talented, there's something about those sloppy guitar riffs they've always done that really scratches an itch for me. The way some notes sound like a fuck-up but actually end up snapping a greater, catchier melody in place. It's a sound I'm always searching for and the only other bands that seem to pull it off is Pavement and maybe Sonic Youth, though I'll always prefer SK's punk energy.
posted by windbox at 12:02 PM on January 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


Woot!
posted by allthinky at 12:02 PM on January 12, 2015


"The Drama Album You've Been Craving"
posted by a halcyon day at 12:10 PM on January 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


Heavens to Betsy, with free streaming, you'd need more than 17 excuses not to listen.
posted by larrybob at 12:14 PM on January 12, 2015 [16 favorites]


larrybob, I hear what you're saying, but you could say I'm only quasi-interested.
posted by Poppa Bear at 12:28 PM on January 12, 2015 [10 favorites]


Poppa: These are jokes aren't they? Ones I don't get? I bet they are.
posted by Cosine at 12:31 PM on January 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


Heavens to Betsy and Excuse 17.
posted by josher71 at 12:37 PM on January 12, 2015


While I know that S-K is an ensemble of equals, I still tend to think of it as Corin Tucker's band, her vocals like a wild flag of abandon over the People's Republic of Portlandia. Also, something something Cadallaca.

Cosine: "These are jokes aren't they? "

These are other bands the members of Sleater-Kinney have been in.

Heavens to Betsy
Excuse 17
Quasi
The Corin Tucker Band
Wild Flag
Cadallaca
posted by mhum at 12:42 PM on January 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


I hear kids don't listen to guitars anymore, which is a shame because this record sounds great.
posted by gwint at 12:43 PM on January 12, 2015


Don't forget Motorgoat.
posted by josher71 at 12:43 PM on January 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


There's a lot more Carrie here than I'm used to. Not bad at all, but for certain different.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:46 PM on January 12, 2015


Going to Maine: Do you mean guitar-wise or vocals?
posted by Cosine at 12:48 PM on January 12, 2015


Vox, though I'm only six tracks in.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:51 PM on January 12, 2015


Sure as hell doesn't hold back though. "Bury Our Friends" left me feeling kinda bummed out, like this was going to be a bunch of pro-forma verse-chorus-verse-ness. This thing seems like a hell of a relentless shout, though. No brakes. (I mean, granted, groups like Perfect Pussy are more relentless, but they're also less than half these womens' age.)
posted by Going To Maine at 12:55 PM on January 12, 2015


(If you really want to see the span of time the ban has covered, compare the final photo in the box set gallery with the cover short in the Pitchfork article.)
posted by Going To Maine at 12:57 PM on January 12, 2015


If I wanted to get into Sleater-Kinney, would it be advisable to start from the beginning or is there another thing in their catalog that is "the one"?
posted by raihan_ at 12:57 PM on January 12, 2015


While I know that S-K is an ensemble of equals, I still tend to think of it as Corin Tucker's band, her vocals like a wild flag of abandon over the People's Republic of Portlandia. Also, something something Cadallaca.

I felt that way before I got into Quasi and now it's just like holy shit, this is Janet Weiss's band and we're all just living, gratefully, in it.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 12:59 PM on January 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


If I wanted to get into Sleater-Kinney, would it be advisable to start from the beginning or is there another thing in their catalog that is "the one"?

Their sound has evolved significantly over the years, from pure riot grrl to... sort of more modern rock riot grrl? I dunno, their own thing. Everyone will have their own opinion about this. I'd bid on Dig Me Out and One Beat. See this post.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:03 PM on January 12, 2015


If I wanted to get into Sleater-Kinney, would it be advisable to start from the beginning or is there another thing in their catalog that is "the one"?

Everyone seems to have a different favorite, but I can't think of anyone who likes the first album the best. My personal favorite is their third release, Dig Me Out, which is also the first with drummer Janet Weiss.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:04 PM on January 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Call the Doctor has my favorite SK song on it, though.
posted by josher71 at 1:06 PM on January 12, 2015


CTD is definitely good, too... "Good Things," "Little Mouth," "IWBYJR," and the title track are all classic. Janet's drumming just took them to a whole new level.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:10 PM on January 12, 2015


I think Dig Me Out, The Hot Rock, and All Hands On the Bad One are properly considered the holy trinity, though they didn't make a bad record (speaking from the perspective of just having bought that box set and immersing in their catalog afresh). The first two are formative, and the last two are the controversial (yet generally still beloved) shake-ups to their sound.
posted by anazgnos at 1:12 PM on January 12, 2015 [4 favorites]


I just can't get One Beat, but The Woods gave us "Entertain" and "Jumpers," so I don't understand how people can't love it.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:14 PM on January 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Woods definitely isn't the prototypical SK album but it is their best (in my opinion.)

But there doesn't seem to be a prototypical SK album (as the Stereogum piece points out) so everyone has their own favorite.
posted by saul wright at 1:17 PM on January 12, 2015


entropicamericana - I'm the opposite. To me The Woods is a sludgy tuneless disappointment, and One Beat is an absolutely amazing departure. But I completely agree with you on the brilliance of Jumpers though. And I freely admit many others like The Woods just fine.

But to the original question, I agree that no one album is universally considered bad or even mediocre, but that you get the most consensus around the brilliance of their "holy trinity", as it was dubbed above.
posted by Palindromedary at 1:20 PM on January 12, 2015


I can't think of anyone who likes the first album the best.

Like most artists, your favorite album is likely influenced by your own age and personality at the time you were first exposed to the band. One Beat is a great album and they were much better musicians by that time but Call the Doctor and Dig Me Out are burned into my soul in a way none of their other albums could ever hope to be.

And I'd say the first album is really really good. I'm sure you can spare the 23 minutes.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 1:26 PM on January 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


I saw Heavens to Betsy at the xray in 1993 so by the time Sleater Kinney came around it was already a welcome departure from HTB.
posted by josher71 at 1:28 PM on January 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Can anyone help me parse exactly what Frere Jones is getting at in the last paragraph of his piece?

As in many Sleater-Kinney songs, which typically avoid storytelling, there seems to be a problem being solved, and here it is, evidently, the spectre of exceptionalism, of being that band that’s really great—for a bunch of girls.

That patronizing frame surrounds much praise of the band, especially when men are writing. But ignoring the band members’ gender in the name of fair treatment overlooks the conditions that made them agitate for fair treatment in the first place. Thinking that the excellence of any act, even Sleater-Kinney, is somehow post-gender requires a leap of imagination, as if the world were not still short on gender utopias. As great as Sleater-Kinney is, the band has not brought that about.

posted by Cold Lurkey at 1:37 PM on January 12, 2015


These are other bands the members of Sleater-Kinney have been in.

Not to mention Ninetynine, their first drummer Laura (of Lora's Song)'s band.

(I can recommend starting with 180 Degrees or The Process, unless you have a thing for Casio VL1s and skronky guitars, in which case the opening track of 767's for you.)
posted by acb at 1:38 PM on January 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


As I read it, he's saying "it would be great if I could write this review without it being significant that they're women, but their gender is still relevant."
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:39 PM on January 12, 2015


Super excited that I have tickets to an upcoming show. They are my wife's fave band. Semi related via SK -> Wild Flag (Mary Timony) -> the Ex Hex album from 2014 is GREAT if you like straightforward 3-piece rock and roll. Very catchy and reminiscent of various 70s/80s rock stuff. I caught the first show of their 2015 tour last week and it was tons of fun. My brother said "it's like all the best parts of my favorite girl groups with a splash of the Ramones thrown in!" I also didn't realize how good of a live guitarist MT was till I saw them. Also they played "Fox on the Run" in the encore, so yay. It was ten bucks cover. TEN BUCKS. Take that mega-arenas!
posted by freecellwizard at 1:43 PM on January 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Timony is a total shredder. I was sorry to lose Wild Flag but happy to gain Ex Hex in trade.
posted by anazgnos at 1:50 PM on January 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


Thirding "the holy trinity" above, and I think Dig Me Out is my favorite of those, but you really can't go wrong with that '97-'00 stretch.
posted by naju at 2:27 PM on January 12, 2015


If I wanted to get into Sleater-Kinney, would it be advisable to start from the beginning or is there another thing in their catalog that is "the one"?

If you want to get into Sleater-Kinney, you should see them live.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:33 PM on January 12, 2015


To be really nit-picky, Australian Laura/Lora Macfarlane was not the first drummer. Misty Farrell played on the early single "You Ain't It"/"Surf Song" (seems to have come out in 1994).

After Lora's visa expired, Toni Gogin was tour dummer (image) -- she was also in CeBe Barnes Band with Miranda July and Radio Sloan before being replaced by Rachael Carns of Kicking Giant; that band later turned into The Need. Toni had a recording studio called Live Transmission and a record label called Horsekitty. (1995 catalog card front and back)

By the time of the Dirtybird Queercore Festival in SF in summer 1996, the lineups were "The Need - featuring Miranda July, Shannon, and Rachel Carns (who used to be in Kicking Giant) - lights, stage, words, action!" (Shannon being an alternate name for Radio) and "Sleater-Kinney - minimalist to the max, maximum voltage, electric revelations from Corin, Carrie and Toni. "
posted by larrybob at 2:37 PM on January 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


Thinking that the excellence of any act, even Sleater-Kinney, is somehow post-gender requires a leap of imagination, as if the world were not still short on gender utopias. As great as Sleater-Kinney is, the band has not brought that about.

Really? I mean, REALLY?

I guess I'm hopelessly naive or blinded by pwivewege or something because I honestly do think of them as A Great Punk Rock Band, not A Great Band Considering As How They're A Buncha Dames.

It's like saying "Bad Brains was great... for a group of black guys." That sentence MAKES NO SENSE. Bad Brains is great, period. Sleater-Kinney is great, period. Race and gender are inextricably tangled up in it, but to place that caveat at the very top of your assessment of their works is, to me, to miss the point both bands were making.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:47 PM on January 12, 2015 [7 favorites]


S-K is one of the world's few perfect bands, and I'm glad they got back together. Everything fits together exactly and from every angle it just pops and crackles and zings. I don't think they've had a single dud track. Saw them live in Melbourne years ago and they were just amazing. Heart.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:02 PM on January 12, 2015


That last section of The New Yorker essay is garbled, but I read it more optimistically. That is, we should be able to consider SK in a post-gender way and just call them a rock band. (See Pitchfork's review of One Beat for their coolio take on that). Unfortunately, we as a society still don't think of women as able to rock like men. In response, we must consider SK as both women and punk rockers, until society realizes that this label doesn't matter. The band basically concurred with this point when they were interviewed All Songs Considered in 2014.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:09 PM on January 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm happy for Miranda July's success but for those of us in PNW in the early mid 90's it was def a "Huh?!".
posted by josher71 at 3:16 PM on January 12, 2015


For me, every album was better than the previous, so much so that I might consider The Woods my favorite album of all time.

It was unironic, almost atavistic rock music released at a time when rock music was kind of limp-wristed and terrible. I mean, who does a sincere guitar solo in 2005 (or even 2015)? The Dave Fridmann production seemed totally suited to the material; where the previous 3 albums seemed to be moving towards a certain degree of polish and a certain ideal of how the band should sound, the production on The Woods is a complete surprise: all loose and dirty, raw and hot. It's organic and overwhelming; Corin and Carrie and Janet singing and riffing and drumming all over and through each other (but it works). It feels like their most virtuosic and expressive work. It made you believe that the best living singers, guitarists, and drummer in rock and roll all happened to be in the same band. Somehow this album made me feel existentially adrift and energized at the same time. I wanted to quit my job. I wanted to learn an instrument and start a band. I wanted a little bit of everything* that was going on in this album. College, heartbreak and jobs from my 20s have been all reduced to emotionally inert bullet points in my memory, yet I still remember the emotional conduit that I had to this album and the crazy energy I got from seeing Carrie play the solo to What's Mine Is Yours on four separate occasions (including the emotional "final" Sleater-Kinney shows in Portland). I kind of hated new music for a couple years after they went on hiatus at the end of the prolonged tour for this album, but it was inconceivable to me at the time what kind of album they could release after this.

That being said, I wouldn't consider The Woods a good introduction to the band. For that, I would start at One Beat and All Hands on the Bad One (probably in that order). Those two albums are much more accessible.

*That song isn't even on the album. It's a B-Side to Entertain. That's how good The Woods is.
posted by strangecargo at 3:24 PM on January 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


Got to love that Carrie Bradshaw. Not only does she do five really funny seasons of that show about Maine with Fred Durst, but then she gets back to her roots by releasing a new album with her classic band from the 90s, Slint.
posted by Pliskie at 3:25 PM on January 12, 2015 [10 favorites]


Put Ex Hex on my Pazz and Jop, what I love about these artists, is that they are this free floating collective that splits and returns, in various combinations, without the toxicity of nostalgia and ego, more than 30 years. This is kind of not a return because of Ex Hex, that Wild Flag record (with the amazing video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8J8n9R8rnB8 which kind of makes that argument) Brownstein's soundtrack to the Women Art and Revoultion movie from 2009, the two Jicks albums, Quasi, Tucker's solo album from 13, it's a macrocosm.

Also, this might be the best album for its ruthless efficency.
posted by PinkMoose at 4:58 PM on January 12, 2015


I am listening to the new album on NPR right now, and it sounds great. The guitar sounds are super satisfying and range from angular/Pavement-y to more sludgy/fuzzed out. Both Carrie and Corrin sound as urgent vocally as ever and just thank whatever deity you believe in for Janet Weiss. They sound mature in a good way...like this record sounds like a terrific 40-year-old badass lady who really has her shit together. Or a trio of them.
posted by little mouth at 5:54 PM on January 12, 2015


BitterOldPunk It's like saying "Bad Brains was great... for a group of black guys."

I was never into Bad Brains because that kind of punk isn't my thing but I knew plenty of people who loved them. Not a single person ever mentioned that they were black. Not one.

I had no idea.

So, this Sleater-Kinney, are they black as well? Black lesbian riot grrrls? Awesome!

Sigh. Why do people have to judge others based on race and gender? What about merit - shouldn't that count for something?
posted by ashbury at 7:07 PM on January 12, 2015


In conclusion, anybody who does not prefer Call the Doctor to Dig Me Out is obviously wrong.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 8:09 PM on January 12, 2015


NPR First Listen isn't getting past the first few songs for me but I'm happy with what I've heard. I was thrilled to hear they'd be coming back.

Considering national bands I have seen Janet Weiss live more times than anyone else; I am so excited to be able to add to that total in May!
posted by mountmccabe at 8:59 PM on January 12, 2015


Also I think I prefer Out Dig Me but probably only by a hair over Call the Doctor. The title track on the latter is one of my favorite songs of ever. Though they don't have a bad record.
posted by mountmccabe at 9:09 PM on January 12, 2015


Yesssss we have tickets to both their shows here in the Spring. Yes, I camped out online to get them. Yes, I paid a lot of money. I have no regrets.
posted by gingerbeer at 10:26 PM on January 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think Corin Tucker is one of the sexiest women ever to walk the face of the Earth.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 3:36 AM on January 13, 2015


I ended up describing No Cities to Love as the hitachi magic wand of Sleater-Kinney albums, and I'm not even sorry.

(That's a good thing. I liked it.)
posted by dinty_moore at 5:46 AM on January 13, 2015


Quick, loud, and the best at what it does?
posted by Going To Maine at 6:26 AM on January 13, 2015


Yep. Also hella powerful and somewhere between old school and timeless.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:14 AM on January 13, 2015


Because we are not yet in that "gender utopia," I think it would be great if we didn't discuss their attractiveness or compare their work to vibrators.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:12 AM on January 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Exactly. Sex and rock 'n' roll definitely do not go together and nobody talks how good-lookin' male musicians are.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:47 AM on January 13, 2015


I was never into Bad Brains because that kind of punk isn't my thing but I knew plenty of people who loved them. Not a single person ever mentioned that they were black. Not one.

It's those who like that sort of punk but think Bad Brains are 'meh' who tend to bring their blackness into it, in my experience. I sigh heavily at the memory.
posted by desuetude at 10:04 AM on January 13, 2015


Yes, I camped out online to get them.

Can someone explain how this works? Because I thought I was camped out and all I got was rained on and my lunch eaten by bears.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 10:15 AM on January 13, 2015


(I did luck into tickets to the Portland show but camping out had nothing to do with it.)
posted by The Hamms Bear at 10:24 AM on January 13, 2015


Can someone explain how this works? Because I thought I was camped out and all I got was rained on and my lunch eaten by bears.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 10:15 AM on January 13 [+] [!]


Dude, you ARE a a bear.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:27 AM on January 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


In his defense the Hamm's Bear was always drunk as shit.
posted by josher71 at 10:40 AM on January 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


> Sex and rock 'n' roll definitely do not go together and nobody talks how good-lookin' male musicians are

Your comparison makes sense only if you think that it's a level playing field -- that women and men have an equally fair shot at being taken seriously as musicians and more than sex symbols.

I don't believe we're there yet.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:09 PM on January 13, 2015


entropicamericana Dude, you ARE a a bear.

Times change; it's tough to keep up with where stealable lunches are.
posted by mountmccabe at 1:29 PM on January 13, 2015


Crazy pic of Sleater Kinney.
posted by josher71 at 7:13 AM on January 14, 2015


In my case, "camping online" meant a) getting the presale passwords and b) being VERY fast (and lucky) with the refresh on the ticket site when the magic ticket-buying hour came around. It also meant paying close attention to social media so that I knew when the second show was added.

Sorry about the bears.
posted by gingerbeer at 12:29 PM on January 14, 2015




"A New Wave" on Letterman: "Kids! Take it away!" (Last time they did Letterman was for "Jumpers".) I love the ANW harmony on the album, but I think that some of the magic is lost in the live mix.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:16 AM on January 16, 2015


To add a rider to the whole "which album should I start with?" debate, No Cities To Love might not actually be a bad one to go with. More poppy than some of their earlier stuff, and a bit more of a general showcase of what they like to do.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:23 AM on January 30, 2015


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