Hi yeah it’s 2015, shall we skip this first post of the new year nonsense and jump into the good stuff? I mean let’s be honest it’s the first post in what seems like a year anyway right?
OK so do you remember back in 2006 when Sleater Kinney were all like ‘Meh we’re over it’, no? me neither. That’s partially because they never formally acknowledged that they were on hiatus and also in my case I had never listened to any one song that they had created.
They weren’t even on my radar until I watched Portlandia. This is rather peculiar as their sound is my jam. I don’t really know how I missed them. I re-watched The L Word recently after watching it when it aired back in 2004 which was about the time I was discovering bands like L7 and Bikini Kill. So on my re-watch and to my surprise, there was my now current band of the moment, rocking the socks off of everyone in The Planet and I was like ‘how the hell did I miss this?.
It’s probably a good thing that it took me a while to get to where I am now with these guys. Sleater Kinney are one of those bands for me that come along just at the most opportune moment. They soundtracked one of the most tumultuous years of my life. 2013 the year of falling out of love, then in again with someone new and getting my myelin sheath’s ass kicked by my own immune system which admittedly sucked more than all the heartache. It would have honestly been so much more difficult without this band therefore I’m really very glad it took me all this time to find them.
Thankfully I did and that’s why I am excitedly track by tracking their new album ‘No Cities to Love’ which is released on the 20th January. How am I reviewing it if it’s not released yet? Well magic… and also NPR have released a first listen but also magic.
On with the show.
Price Tag - A great song about finding a bargain. You know that feeling you get when you’re at the checkout and you’re thinking shit man the minuscule leftovers from my DLA this month is only just enough to cover one loaf of bread. When suddenly the shop clerk takes you by the hand and he says in his angelic voice ‘Miss, these are buy one get one free’ and your heart lowers from your throat for a brief moment of relief. You thank him graciously and hobble your way back to the shelf to grab another. Content in the knowledge that today you win. Today you found the bargain and you can eat cheese on toast for another week. It’s not really a song about that feeling but it is a song that highlights the inequalities in income and how we feed our emptiness by overspending on items we don’t need. Let’s just say that it could soundtrack a video of Black Friday shoppers. It could also be interpreted on a larger scale. As always there are multiple ways a song can sit on someones understanding and as always these track by tracks are my interpretation and have absolutely no standing in actual factual’s. Great musicianship. Janet Weiss is fast becoming one of my favorite drummers, the way she carries this track is phenomenally bad ass.
Fangless – This is a song about vampires. Of course I would say that I am a huge SF nerd. It’s a song about a kick ass vampire who has been beaten down and lost his or her bite. The thing about vampires though is that they are much like the pheonix or the zombie in that they will rise again and go get that juicy juicy brain. Man I think this entire review is going to be me making stupid jokes then creaming over Janet Weiss’s drumming but did you hear that intro? The way it carries into Brownstein’s guitar and Tucker’s vocals is an earsplitting example that these three are a collaboration of awesome.
Surface Envy – This is a bit of a battle cry of solidarity which is kind of fitting considering this is a comeback album. It’s a full throttle rock charge to the nucleus accubens.
No Cities to Love – The title track sees Carrie Brownstein taking the lead on vocals. Is there anything she can’t do? Ahem I’m going to try and steer clear of going too deep into my opinions on our lord and savior Ms Brownstein because quite frankly it gets creepy. This is actually thus far after Bury our Friends (which has been given more time to seep into my soul) my favorite track. The riffing is fantastic. It takes me back to Gang of Four’s riffing style. It’s very catchy and has single potential. There’s a really good video of famous Sleater Kinney fans jamming out to this track. It runs like a game of spot the coolest icon, J Mascis wins.
New Wave – On second thoughts this might out catchy the previous song and could be contender for my favorite (Not counting Bury Our Friends) track of the album. The music industry is a funny one to watch and not be a part of. I guess I comment on it here but I comment on stuff I like and always as a fan. I most certainly am not a critic and if and when I am I’m terrible at it. New wave is a label that gets stuck on stuff that can’t be put in a box because it’s new and unique. New Wave is a box for the un-boxable. I imagine it is very difficult as an artist to evolve given that as soon as you have hit a level of greatness that garners you fans, you can’t move from that pedestal without those same fans calling you sellouts. I myself have been guilty of this. The other day ‘Warning’ by Greenday came on the radio and as I was singing along I muttered ‘F@*!%*” sellouts’ as the song came to a close. Now that’s kind of unfair but as a fan of their older stuff I feel duped that they went all mainstream emo. This doesn’t mean that I’m entitled to be a hipster douchebag everytime a Greenday song comes on the radio or so my girlfriend tells me. I like that this is a song kind of about bands doing what they want to do. Making the sounds that they want to make and at the end of the day it’s just them. The same way that on a much, much smaller scale, this here writing outlet is mine. It doesn’t have to be anything. It’s free motherfucker. *The Cowardly Lion blog is now undergoing a re-branding and will be renamed The New Wave Cowardly Lion Blog with eventual comics.
No Anthems – This is a wee bit heavier than the rest of the album. A bit more angsty with Corin Tucker’s voice simmering throughout until it reaches it’s abrupt ending. I’m not really sure on my interpretation of meaning but it makes me feel pensive and a little moody. Which is kind of my equilibrium anyway, so I feel very at home with this track. I think it might be a grower, one which I will play to death and gush over at every opportunity…Look I like them all, they are all my favorite.
Gimme Love – Love, love, love. Who doesn’t want to be loved? To be appreciated and acknowledged. Maslow put it third from the top on his hierarchy of needs. On some level we all need love, except psychopaths, they’re probably not that bothered about it but for everyone else it’s a necessity and also a commodity. People don’t just go around saying ‘ here have some free love’ I mean sure they do but it’s not the real true meaning of love. It’s fickle. This is confusing and sometimes people will do extreme things to get ‘love’ or recognition and I thiiink that’s what this song is about. I’m reading ‘The Art of Asking’ by Amanda Palmer and she rather beautifully and eloquently say’s that when she was a human statue she would interact with passers by and a silent exchange of ‘I see you’, ‘No-one ever see’s me’ is passed between them. That’s all anyone is ever seeking, to be noticed. That is my review of love, my review of the song is that the collaborative music builds to a perfect mackle of sounds that echo the hook of the ‘Gimme love’ lyric. Great song. Ten out of Ten, Five Stars.
Bury our Friends – This was released way back last year, decades ago, so it’s been able to cement itself firmly in my heart. It follows a similar theme to the previous song. It’s not about love, you know that thing we need that Maslow said was important. It’s kind of about status, that need for recognition and how we as fans play right into it. My BFF txt me a couple of hours ago saying how he no longer wanted to live on this planet after learning that T-Shirts depicting Kurt Cobain’s suicide note were on sale and people were buying them. That dear readers is one way to exhume your idols. Catchy song, don’t throw away your dogs, give me all the puppies.
Hey Darling – I really like the carousel sound of this song, it makes me a little bit dizzy. I think this might be a bit of a love song from Corin to the other two, seeing how the other two didn’t really separate, they just formed Wild Flag. Maybe it’s a love song to each other? Maybe it’s a love song to the fans? It could be a love song to everyone. It’s definitely a love song. IT’S A FUCKING LOVE SONG OKAY! La la la. OK I’ve lost it…too much caffeine.
Fade – And we finish up on a real gut wrenching tit grabber of a number, which encompasses everything this band is about. It has a dirty sound throwing back to their much earlier stuff, then at about 1:16 it kicks back to their latest plucky guitar riffs then back again to that dirty angst ridden sound that I love. It’s a fantastic showcase of the evolution and variation of this band. They can incorporate silly with serious, heavy and soft, old and new, dirty and clean. Sleater Kinney are a necessary staple in rock and roll.
And so ends the tale of my first experience with this album No Cities to Love.
The album was recorded in 2014 at The Tiny Telephone Recordings in San Francisco and is released on Sub Pop records on the 20th January.
Thank you so much for reading
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