All Hands on the Bad One
Kill Rock Stars
Sleater-Kinney’s fifth album (and third for Kill Rock Stars), may be their best to date. Dig Me Out may prove to be a more important record, but All Hands on the Bad One is a better record. Sleater-Kinney, who hail from the girl band Mecca of Olympia, Washington (OK, and Portland, Oregon) have come a long way since tiny Villa Villakula records first unleashed their sounds. “Write Me Back Fucker” has giver way to songs like “Leave You Behind” and “Youth Decay.” The band’s sound, powered by the guitars of Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker, and driven by Janet Weiss’ drums, has been further enhanced by increased vocal contributions from Brownstein and Weiss, even melding some lush two- and three-part harmonies. The songs, which musically were a bit too self-conscious on the band’s previous album, The Hot Rock , are more comfortable and even more sophisticated. Sleater-Kinney seem far more comfortable with each other. Janet Weiss is very much a fixture in a band that early on had a revolving door behind the drum kit. She’s older than Carrie and Corin, and perhaps acts as a steadying force. Carrie and Corin seem to have called a cease-fire in their musical skirmishes. They’ve decided to fling barbs at fans, the music industry, their images, and their past. One might think this resolution of tension would dull their edge, but it has actually enabled them to focus their energies and create even greater art. The album also displays some nice humor and flashes of real wit in the lyrics, which had for so long been so solemn. With “Ballad of a Ladyman,” Corin Tucker even takes some shots at herself. This self-depreciating tone would have been unthinkable a few years ago. It seems as the women in the band have matured they have allowed their music to mature as well, creating an instantly likable album, with real staying power.
Kill Rock Stars, 120 NE State St. #418, Olympia, WA 98501; http://www.killrockstars.com