Sleater-Kinney just keep getting better and better, and this, their seventh album is no exception. 'The Fox' starts proceedings with rumbling guitars, crashing drums and Corin Tucker's trademark howl delivering the most frightening fairytale you will ever hear: "on the day the duck was born, the fox was watching all along, he said 'land ho!'" And from then on, they never once falter. From the neat-beat garage scuzz of 'Whats Mine Is Yours' to the dance-a-long freak out of 'Jumpers'. From the defiant record industry-slaying 'Entertain' with its marching call-to-arms break in the middle to the eleven minute Led Zep rock out of 'Lets Call It Love' - Sleater-Kinney are firing on all cylinders. The guitar/vocal dual of Tucker and Carrie Brownstein and the thunderous drumming of extraordinare Janet Weiss have never sounded this potent. Sleater-Kinney have never fitted into scenes or genres and are virtually impossible to categorize, but on this record they have truly made some of the most thrilling, astounding, era-defining music of recent years. Why they aren't as big as R.E.M is a mystery to me. Never mind, I'll keep on listening knowing that this is some of the best music ever recorded. And we should be thankful for that, at least.
I bought this, my first Sleater-Kinney album, after reading the glowing reviews online and in various magazines. I was expecting something akin to Le Tigre....WRONG! Imagine Sabbath and Zeppelin with more pop suss and you will nearly have it right. Opener "The Fox" goes down as one of the best album openers of the year - thuggish Bonham-esque drumrolls and a monster bass/guitar fuzz riff. It's followed by the poppier "Wilderness", which echoes various great 60's bands such as Jefferson Airplane. "Jumpers" is another cracker - full-on rock melded with some great harmonies. My only apprehension about Sleater-Kinney from the reviews was Corin Tucker's vocals - they are a bit like Marmite, but I have to say I love them. Very like Grace Slick on "White Rabbits", but often very restrained and full of emotion. Janet Weiss (drums) and Carrie Brownstein (guitar) are fantastic throughout, culminating on the epic "Let's Call It Love" which starts out with a Zep-esque stomp and mutates after five minutes into a guitar freakout worthy of Mainliner or Acid Mothers Temple before a segue into final track "Night Light". I have not listened to anything but this since it arrived, and I'm sure it will be firmly esconced in my Top Ten of 2005 list come December. Buy it!
A well produced and ambitious affair that marked a more mature for the band. While not quite as angry and visceral as the likes of Dig Me Out, The Woods has a charm all its own. Filled with dynamic musical flourishes and powerful, driving vocals, Corin Tucker has perhaps never sounded better than she has here, nor has she been given as much to work with in terms of arrangements from Brownstein and Weiss. I've since picked up a slew of other Sleater-Kinney albums off the back of this, as well as releases from the former bandmate's later releases, but none of them have lived up to the ambition, power and spirit of this. Arguably the best album of its genre ever put together.
'The Woods' is Sleater-Kinney's seventh album following releases going back over a decade: their eponymous debut, 'Call the Doctor', 'Dig Me Out', 'The Hot Rock', 'One Beat', and 'All Hands on the Bad One' (plus drummer Janet Weiss has played with The Go-Betweens and Quasi). 'The Woods' is quite a departure for the band, who opted to sign to Sub Pop and decided to work with producer David Fridmann (The Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev, Mogwai, the Delgados) who felt that all SK's prior records sounded the same (...you assume production-wise). 'The Woods' finds Sleater-Kinney thoroughly reinvigorated, it has found them a (much deserved) wider audience and even a support slot with Pearl Jam (I was quite shocked to see a photo of Carrie Brownstein with members of Pearl Jam and U2 on their website!).
The album is obviously fantastic, which is probably something I'd say about any S-K album since 'Dig Me Out' - they're clearly much more than the Riot Grrl/Bikini Kill/Olympia-act people have seen them as in the past. Amazing that the line-up remains two-guitars and drums - a sign of how great they are is the fact you don't notice. It has to be said that this is even better live - Brownstein's guitar-playing even wilder sounding like Rowland S. Howard playing Television covering 'Fire Engine'. Yes Carrie kind of plays solos here! Brownstein & principal vocalist/guitarist Corin Tucker have a fantastic guitar interplay going - much better than stuff like Bloc Party, Editors, Interpol & Franz Ferdinand. The album itself sounds like The Birthday Party playing PJ Harvey's 'Rid of Me'...
'The Fox' is the harsh opener, very much in the mode of Pussy Galore, it's fantastic bastardised blues and feedback - a dirge that finds a groove. They've hardly turned into Advil Lasagne! 'Wilderness' taps into their new wave side (apparent since 'Dance Song '97' and 'One Beat'), the song isn't that far from Interpol's 'Evil' - though Corin Tucker's post-Babes in Toyland holler certainly gets the attention. 'What's Mine is Yours' opens with an angular riff drifting from channel to channel before a demon groove comes in - it should be pointed out that Janet Weiss is the greatest drummer around these days (Keith Moon? Grant Hart? Forget about it). Her performance on the live-version of 'Let's Call It Love/Entertain' is the most decimating drum-performance I've heard/seen since Mick Harvey doing 'Sonny's Burning' with The Birthday Party.
Single 'Jumpers' is a more conventional alternative number, Brownstein & Tucker harmonising together a dark wonderful poetry "The sky is blue most every day/The lemons grow like tumours/They are tiny suns/Infused with sour..." Fridmann's production here is closest to the Lips/Rev stuff he's done in the past - though the chorus is most definitely the Sleater-Kinney of yore. & yes another guitar solo (of sorts) - Brownstein's guitar-playing always interesting though, it's not like she's turned into Peter Frampton...'Modern Girl' starts off quietly, reflecting the themes suggested by the title 'The Woods'? , again this mellower side of SK has been suggested since 'Buy Her Candy' (Fridmann gets some lovely FX in the backgroud - there's even a flute noise not far from Vashti Bunyan!). 'Entertain' sets pulses racing once more, Weiss' powerhouse-drumming backing the song which Brownstein initially sings until Tucker comes in. Imagine PJ Harvey times two with the greatest drummer...
The rest of the album is as mindblowing, 'Rollercoaster' and 'Steep Air' feeling like a new band - a lot more laid back and melodic than the full-on Nation of Ulysses rage of yore. The 11-minute epic 'Let's Call It Love' discounts any theory SK have gone MOR - another blues-feeling track that sounds like females tapping into Led Zep at their most primal - it reminds me lots of PJ Harvey circa 'Rid of Me' (before she gothed out).Finally 'Night Light' emanates from the maelstrom of 'Let's Call It Love' , both melodic and raw it makes me wonder where SK will go next. Here's hoping album#8 isn't that far away. A band that gets greater and greater; can we have a live album please?
This album is better than No Cities to love (which is very good) but this album has a real muture sound about it. Three musicians who have obviously spent a long time playing together. It is thumpingly brutal and has the energy of an early Led Zep mostly due to the brilliantly 'Bonhamesque' performance of Janet Weiss. It's not easy listening with the indie sounds of throwing muses and the pixies channeled through Led Zep. The sheer raw energy of this is the thing that sells it. Corin Tucker's voice is awesome as is the interplay between her voice and Carrie Brownstein's and their guitars really rock - savagely! This is a band at the peak of its powers. The epic 11 minute LET'S CALL IT LOVE is probably the highlight for its 5 minute freeform jam but ENTERTAIN is crunching as is WHAT'S MINE IS YOURS and WILDERNESS. JUMPERS is more refined but no less intense and MODERN GIRL provides lightish interlude with its 'ironic' whistfulness.THE FOX is just wonderfully bonkers. No filler here. Great that they're getting the due respect they've deserved for so long.
Good quality and excellent music. Shipping took some time but it was from USA to UK during Christmas.Nonetheless it arrived just in time for Christmas to be given to my boyfriend as a gift. He loves the group and the sound quality of the vinyl records.
After the burn-out of L7, who proved that women with guitars don't need to be male fantasy figures, Sleater-Kinney became one of the best exponents of Riot Grrrl rock. They could be infuriatingly inconsistent, but this their final album is a brash and noisy celebration that is quite happy to dispense melody and harmony in favour of anger and energy. Best of all, there aren't any of the embarrassing or lame tracks that blighted some of their earlier albums.
The excellent 'Jumpers' is probably the most poppy track here, but even that has some blistering guitar breaks. 'Let's Call It Love', on the other hand, is a brutal grunge workout celebrating rough bedroom action that descends into a six-minute guitar jam that's reminiscent of Grand Funk Railroad at their very best (that sounds like an insult, but Grand Funk were very occasionally awesome. Sometimes they were as good as Sleater-Kinney). Janet Weiss complements it all with some Bonzo-like drum pummelling.
Unlike on earlier albums, Corin Tucker's shrieking vocals are never out of place here (even if they're an acquired taste) and she does smooth and melodic too. 'Modern Girl' is almost irritatingly pleasant to listen to, but the growing buzz of interference masks the change in mood from shiny-happy to bitter-angry as "happy makes me a modern girl" becomes "angry makes me a modern girl". Tucker's low-tuned guitar still does the job of the absent bass while Carrie Brownstein's lead guitar sears through the whole set.
Some fans hated the change from the quirky, almost amateurish sound of earlier albums (Rollercoaster and Wilderness are for them). But Sleater-Kinney weren't afraid to progress and get better and better without losing their punk edge, at the same time as castigating punk purists who by 2005 sounded like middle-aged nostalgists ("You come around looking 1984/ You're such a bore" on 'Entertain').