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Old 11.09.2014, 05:54 PM   #81
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Robert Christgau gets in on the action:

Quote:
Deeper & Better: Reaccessing Sleater-Kinney's Material Girls


For around a decade starting in 1995 or 1996, the best rock band in America was an all-female trio out of the indie-rock hothouse of Olympia, Wash.'s Evergreen College. And now, around a decade after they went on hiatus in the wake of 2005's heavy-roiling The Woods, Sleater-Kinney are back. At first the Sub Pop box set Start Together, officially released today with its first pressing of 3,000 long sold out, looked like a profit-taking retrospective. But over the weekend it emerged that the box's only new music, a one-sided white-vinyl single marked "1/20/15," presages the new Sleater-Kinney album many feared would never come. Jan. 20, 2015, is a Tuesday.

Sleater-Kinney's co-frontwomen, who were also lovers when they first recorded together, are singer-guitarists Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein. The eponymous 10-song debut CD the pair recorded overnight in Australia in 1994 was one of riot grrrl's finest moments. Their 1996 Call the Doctor was a postpunk benchmark. Their band got even better when power drummer Janet Weiss joined for 1997's Dig Me Out only because Weiss's chops are as world-class as Tucker and Brownstein's chemistry and vision.

Since Sleater-Kinney recorded two CDs for Chainsaw and four for Kill Rock Stars before moving on up to Sub Pop for The Woods, it's no surprise that their stature isn't adequately reflected in sales numbers. The SoundScan total for their seven-album run in history's final record boom is just 583,000. But nobody got more plaudits than Sleater-Kinney. So in 2001, Time magazine granted the band's critical superfan Greil Marcus a bully pulpit to explain why they were, as I was saying, the best rock band in America. They had devotees in profusion. Few of the relatively few who bought their albums were casuals.

Fans who couldn't tell how much Sleater-Kinney loved punk were quickly set right when Brownstein alternately confided and shrieked Call the Doctor's "I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone." But Sleater-Kinney never sounded very Ramones-y except in song lengths that clocked in under three minutes half the time. They always found tunes -- great pop is impossible without them. But early on they demolished the minimalist formalism and clean propulsion of classic punk -- they were rock as in rawk. Allotting what bass feel there was to Tucker's guitar, they were always tumultuous -- a storm of longing, fury, aspiration, solidarity, and indomitable emotion whose early focus on sexual politics broadened into relationship songs that maintained their feminist edge because the frontwomen thought and felt so subtly, and remained so stubbornly who they were. Their guitars battled and meshed in a bravura model of cooperative competition, and Brownstein was a clear, clever singer. But their sound was dominated by Tucker's loud, vivid vibrato.

Compared to most great bands, Sleater-Kinney make lousy background music. Usually, receding into the background is a function of groove, and Weiss isn't a groove drummer. She's a beat and noise drummer -- a pure rock drummer devoid of swing or funk and not all that interested in simple punk timekeeping. And insofar as withdrawing discreetly out of the listener's consciousness reflects something conversational in the vocal, Tucker doesn't cooperate. Even as she married a man and had her first kid, she lost none of her will to challenge rock's male chauvinism. She dominated because it was her cultural mission to stay in our faces, revving her sizable soprano into that signature vibrato.

So where guy bands smugly cashed in their patrimony, Sleater-Kinney foraged into unclaimed territory and shared that thrill with musical seekers of every sexual identity. And where unbelievers found Tucker's power warble irritating, I dug it because I dug what it signified. But "listenable" is not a word that leaps to mind in this connection. And sadly, as their hiatus set in, I pretty much stopped listening to Sleater-Kinney. This happens as artists disappear into history, of course -- there's always more good music than time to hear it. And that's the gift of where we come back to the Start Together, a second pressing of which should be available in stores before Christmas.

Although I've long scoffed at box sets for duping fans into overpaying for marginalia, the end of the CD boom has undercut some of that disdain. "Dupe" doesn't seem the right verb when consumers know what they're getting into and record companies no longer lord it over the marketplace. Streaming has its upside -- as artists disappear into history, who would gainsay a curious kid the chance to check out a genius with a click or three? But there's no doubt in my mind that the simultaneous dematerialization and availability streaming represents has the general effect of rendering music less real and less precious for most listeners, especially young ones.

This is why I've long admired Sub Pop's m.o. Almost all Sub Pop CDs are packaged in cardboard double-folds half an inch taller than competing product; almost all feature informative booklets; all protect discs with a distinctive white-tiled inner sleeve; all are set apart by art direction that sometimes messes with the pattern just described. In short, all are objects designed to be owned as objects. All rematerialize music.

Never prone to missing trends, Sub Pop was also on the vinyl resurgence early. With vintage Sleater-Kinney vinyl now rare, the box's seven colored-vinyl albums are a major reason it sold so quickly, although the black vinyl albums of the second edition can be ordered singly. It's to Sub Pop's credit that the label isn't forcing vinyl fetishists to plunk down $125 for the box, which also includes a big, charming snapshot album that Sub Pop A&R veep Tony Kiewel told me was almost as big a job for him as quality-testing the audio. Yet since I'm no audiophile, I was surprised to find that what moved me most about this project was the sound.

Start Together wasn't remixed -- that would have been sacrilege. But the Chainsaw recordings needed toning up, and only The Woods sounded as good as the band thought it should. So the catalog was remastered by Sterling Sound veteran Greg Calbi, and I duly sat down to A-B-C it, old CD to new CD to vinyl. Calbi says he found unexpected low resonances he could beef up to intensify the aggressiveness in a digital iteration of the master tapes, and thenceforth worked to foreground bass so as to beef up "the aggressiveness and power of the band overall." Worried about this tampering, I found it suitably subtle when I listened -- they'd been powerful and aggressive to begin with, and Calbi's revision stayed within that range. But I noticed a side effect Calbi hadn't mentioned -- without surrendering any of its own aggression, Tucker's power warble was markedly more, well, listenable. Less screechy.

The vinyl version was nice, too -- "warmer," as vinyl fetishists like to say. But the CD had a clarity and force I personally liked even better. "Edge" has become so prized a thing in music that to say Sleater-Kinney's old CDs have lost edge sounds like a reservation. It isn't -- that edge made them harder to hear. So as I write I'm playing the remaster of 2002's post-9/11, post-motherhood One Beat CD twice as loud as I usually play music in my office, on speakers. The song is the anti-Bush "Combat Rock". Brownstein is upping the Brit factor in her cuter, poppier voice; longer on power than warble in this song, Corin is holding forth with the kind of impassioned certitude that makes some men uncomfortable. I know as I listen that post-hiatus Brownstein, always my favorite, will join Fred Armisen as the unpinnable chameleon of IFC's sketch-comedy Portlandia and join Weiss in Merge's excellent all-femme alt-rock venture Wild Flag; I know that as leader of the mixed-gender Corin Tucker Band, Tucker the matron and filmmaker's wife will squeeze in two soulful, thoughtful, unabrasive Kill Rock Stars albums that I'm in the minority for preferring slightly to Wild Flag's one-off. But I'm so happy to reaccess them in precisely this form.

No Cities to Love, the new album will be released Jan. 21, 2015. Bet it sounds great.

http://www.billboard.com/articles/ne...material-girls
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Old 11.21.2014, 07:30 PM   #82
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From NPR:

Sleater-Kinney 2.0: The Band Talks About Its First Album In 10 Years

You can download the whole program, which includes sneaky previews of three new songs. ALSO: take the Drum Fill Friday quiz with Janet, whynot! I'd love to say I got all 5 right... but I fucked one up. There's one with Spoon's Jim Eno as well. Sweet!
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Old 11.21.2014, 08:02 PM   #83
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Old 11.21.2014, 09:34 PM   #84
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Yeah I don't get why anyone gives a fuck whether or not she's acting and doing S-K at the same time. I mean.... What the hell does that have to do with anything? Why is it a reason to be apprehensive of the new music? Why is anyone bothered by someone doing *gasp!!!* TWO THINGS?

Kim Gordon was in Last Days while she was in Sonic Youth. Do we hate her too? I mean .... How dare she ???

Tom Waits has added his bizarre, diabolical voice and impeccable timing to several films. Some of them aren't good. Does it mean that Tom Waits is less of a musician? Fuck no, bitch!

What's the problem here?
And yes, Carrie would be and *was* a celebrity prior to Portlandia. Having seen S-K shows at venues all over the country, I can attest to this. If you can go to Memphis, LA, Seattle, Boston, Houston, Vancouver, Madrid, London, and Rome and have 2-3,000 people line up to see you in every single one of those locations, you're a celebrity. A lesser celebrity perhaps, certainly. But one doesn't have to be Brad Pitt to qualify.

But I'm a little troubled by some of the whack ass shit people are saying in this thread. I've never known the SYG board to be a particularly smug or exclusive place, but there's been a lot of kinda petty scenestery wanking in this thread.

... Not trying to be a dick, just saying... There's new music coming out from one of your favorite bands! Fuck Portlandia. If you have issues with Carrie for being funny and being on a show, this is a weird time to piss and moan over it. At least I would understand bitching about the show when she was NOT reuniting with Sleater-Kinney. But bitching aboht Her acting now, when she IS making music with Sleater-Kinney? Shut the fuck up!

Sorry, I just can't even imagine what is actually upsetting any of the S-K fans in the room. I'd eat all your assholes for an Unwound or Fugazi reunion, and I wouldn't give a shit if both bands had spent the past 12 years doing low-budget soft core porn movies for Showtime!

Anyway, cheers folks! 😁
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Old 11.21.2014, 10:17 PM   #85
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Soup Nazi
Robert Christgau gets in on the action:[size=2]

i

Well, that's curtains for S-K. If Robert "Clueless Hippie Fossil" Christgau gives his enthusiastic endorsement to a band, they are no longer cool.
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Old 11.21.2014, 11:09 PM   #86
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I remember when than TIME article was first published. I felt that it was pretty fair to call them the world's greatest rock band. REM received a similar label in the early '90s from... Well, from Rolling Stone. It's fitting.

Someone needs to hop-to and make the same assertion about Deerhunter. Not all bands can be given such a title. It takes a mixture of rock/pop directness and an experimental zest for recreation and discovery. Deerhunter has been that band in the underground since Cryptograms, and they've been that band in the semi-mainstream since Mocrocastle. They're not even the best band in the world, but they're the torch bearers of rock and roll's trashy, androgynous, Give-a-fuck purity.

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Old 11.22.2014, 02:48 PM   #87
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Carrie was not a celebrity before Portlandia. That show gave her a national audience bigger than their shows ever could be. I dont resent her celebrity, I just thinks its lame. My actual beef is with the credit card commercials. I don't even like Sam Jackson doing them. Its literally the very definition of selling out and has not even zero but negative artistic value
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Old 11.22.2014, 04:32 PM   #88
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SuchFriendsAreDangerous
Carrie was not a celebrity before Portlandia. That show gave her a national audience bigger than their shows ever could be. I dont resent her celebrity, I just thinks its lame. My actual beef is with the credit card commercials. I don't even like Sam Jackson doing them. Its literally the very definition of selling out and has not even zero but negative artistic value

Oh, I didn't know about the commercials. hmmm...
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Old 11.23.2014, 04:51 AM   #89
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okay I'm not going to pass comment on their music, have definitely enjoyed a couple of tracks of theirs, but christ:

"Well, I really think Sleater-Kinney is a singular band with no clear predecessor or successor, so I don't think we started out creating music that you could see the palette of colors that we were using, and maybe draw a lineage. But certainly there wasn't a distinct band that we were pulling from, and I think subsequently, there haven't been bands that sounds like us. So I don't really know how we would've come back together and done anything other than be ourselves."

"We wrote in my basement. It took on many permutations, and eventually we settled on a process that was a little more akin to what we had done in the early years, partially because Corin and I had to kind of reacquaint ourselves to the very specific vernacular that she and I speak, musically. And so, [she] and I would work on songs and then bring them to Janet, instead of jamming... It's almost telepathic. I think that Corin and I can complete each other's musical sentences in a way that never ceases to surprise me."

brownstein certainly does have an astounding ego on her..how 'singular' can three women making purportedly political music with a rock palette in THE FUCKING 90s be??
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Old 11.23.2014, 02:19 PM   #90
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The genre wasnt unique then and Carrie has developed quite the ego but i get what she is saying, they weren't specifically trying "to sound" like any bands in particular. Also when we consider that there have been more than twelve bands between these three ladies its safe to say they are singular influence in music. Its not that they invented anything, but they definitely weren't copying other sounds
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Old 11.23.2014, 02:46 PM   #91
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drjohnrock
Well, that's curtains for S-K. If Robert "Clueless Hippie Fossil" Christgau gives his enthusiastic endorsement to a band, they are no longer cool.

If that's the case, Sleater-Kinney were UOA (Uncool On Arrival).
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Old 11.23.2014, 02:53 PM   #92
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Originally Posted by SuchFriendsAreDangerous
...

In morse code that's an S, so... am I supposed to say . ?
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Old 11.23.2014, 05:02 PM   #93
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SuchFriendsAreDangerous
The genre wasnt unique then and Carrie has developed quite the ego but i get what she is saying, they weren't specifically trying "to sound" like any bands in particular. Also when we consider that there have been more than twelve bands between these three ladies its safe to say they are singular influence in music. Its not that they invented anything, but they definitely weren't copying other sounds


I get the singular thing... It's true. Like Nirvana, and REM, and Sonic Youth, Sleater-Kinney always had a sound that was their own. They had influences (Fugazi..) and they had peers... But they didn't actually sound like their predecessors or peers. Not quite. This is why their fans are so devoted. When bands sound like slight variations on other bands, as is the case with a lot of radio rock, and a lot of one-hitters, then maybe they stumble on one or two songs that grab yr balls, but you're not going to hear them and think "oh my, this is it! This is what I've been wanting to hear! It makes sense now!!"

So yeah, they were singular and they were iconic in their region and era. Before the Internet made it easy to know about everything, S-K was known and loved by many many people. And I don't think calling them a political band is fair. They wrote songs about all kinds of topics, and they didn't drape their music with accompanying liberal imagery. In fact their whole look was pretty innocuous. They looked like people. Their album covers didn't betray their sound, like a lot of the more dime a dozen riot grrl bands from Oly and Portland.

They made percussive staccato punk that you could dance to. Their style was the result of their combined personalities, and that's why nobody really sounds like them. I agree that this is the case.

I also think the Woods was a weird place to end it. They were on the cusp of real celebrity, bigger by far than they had ever been before and they called it quits before they even had a chance to acclimate. So most people who know Sleater-Kinney probably found out about them through that album, which isn't a very good representation of their overall sound. Maybe they leveraged that success to pursue other interests while securing themselves an option for a big comeback.

I don't know. Their first few records killed it. They were incredible and so goddamn fierce and sharp and focused. I am no longer the massive fan I once was. For me, they represented an era that's over. I don't need to see them play again, and I won't be pissing myself with anticipation for the new album, but I will always love their music, and I'm a bit surprised by the polarity of opinions in this thread. I haven't paid attention to what they've done in the last several years, but apparently it's worthy of some rancor.

The car commercial thing doesn't sound cool at all.

But it's Sleater-Kinney! They rocked and I'm happy for them, because I have no reason not to be.

And if anyone surprised at Carrie's ego... Don't be. Ego might as well have its own layer in the biosphere of the Pacific Northwest. Everyone's so goddamn self-satisfied it's disgusting. But I'm sure Austin has that problem too... I'm sure Ann Arbor and Vancouver and Madison and all the mini-metropolitan hot beds of collegiate cool foster their own distinct brand of smugness and superiority. It's the way of the world.
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Old 11.24.2014, 03:34 PM   #94
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^ Corin's a lovely human. Carrie isn't. Geography has nothing to do with it.

And by the way, no one ever said they don't rock.
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Old 11.24.2014, 07:34 PM   #95
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Severian
They made percussive staccato punk that you could dance to.

Fucking shit brilliant synopsis I found myself dancing at so many S-K shows it was always part of the appeal loud but with a solid groove and all that without even having a bass?? I think I'm going to tweet that to Corin because Carrie wouldn't give a shit
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Old 11.25.2014, 05:16 PM   #96
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drjohnrock
Well, that's curtains for S-K. If Robert "Clueless Hippie Fossil" Christgau gives his enthusiastic endorsement to a band, they are no longer cool.

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Soup Nazi
If that's the case, Sleater-Kinney were UOA (Uncool On Arrival).

Come to think of it, Christgau was writing about Brownstein and Tucker even before there was a thing called Sleater-Kinney. Calling him a "clueless hippie" reveals an EGREGIOUS ignorance about his work.
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Old 11.26.2014, 08:39 AM   #97
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Let that shit die.

(Not sure what I mean, but seems witty.)
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Old 11.27.2014, 07:31 PM   #98
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Yeah, tweet that shit to Corin. Tell her it's from the scrawny solo dancer with the huge pupils who used to follow them around the west coast. I always thought they were incredibly listenable... Never understood the bitching and complaining about the supposed dying cat vocals.

Some people have such sissy fucking ears. It's hard to believe that it's hard to believe Sleater-Kinney reached this level of popularity, when there's a dude named Billy Corgan out there who howled like a fat little spoiled church boy who's mummy wouldn't let him eat the entire cake after the service. Now that man was like a child-sex predator, only instead of raping asses he went for earholes. And somehow managed to front one of the biggest bands of 1993-1997.
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Old 11.28.2014, 01:02 PM   #99
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Soup Nazi
Come to think of it, Christgau was writing about Brownstein and Tucker even before there was a thing called Sleater-Kinney. Calling him a "clueless hippie" reveals an EGREGIOUS ignorance about his work.


Making such a stupid insult reveals egregious ignorance about me. I am very familiar with this twat's work--back in the day I even had the compilations of his 70s and 80s reviews. If you like him, that's your problem. I'm not going to debate a nonentity who is increasingly desparate to prove he's relevant to younger listeners. And you can go fuck yourself.
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Old 11.28.2014, 01:25 PM   #100
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Havent seen a great SYG battle in ages, keep it up you two!
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