It’s been a rough year for Sleater-Kinney and their fans following the departure of drummer Janet Weiss, but Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker are without a doubt moving on and will continue to tour and release their new album The Center Won’t Hold despite this setback. We all know the band will persevere, but it’s still heartbreaking to see Janet Weiss go. Good news is we’ll be able to hear Janet Weiss on one more Sleater-Kinney album. The Center Won’t Hold produced by St. Vincent is set to be released on August 16th, and with what we’ve heard so far, it’s clear that the band have gone in a completely different direction on this new album, parting ways with the raucous raw energy of their early work, the Rock & Roll-tinged style of their later work, and the danceable grooves of their previous album No Cities To Love in favor of Art Rock balladry that sees Carrie Brownstein take up the majority of lead vocals. Their new track “Can I Go On” is quite possibly their most poppy sounding track by far, but the lyrical content deals with existentialism and depression which can truly resonate with someone who’s going through it. You can listen to the track below:
Australian band “Tropical Fuck Storm” have been on a roll, and it looks like the band don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. Today these oddballs released a brand new track titled “The Planet Of Straw Men,” as well as a music video to accompany it. The track will appear on their upcoming follow-up to last year’s spectacular debut A Laughing Death In Meatspace, which is set to be released later in the year. You can watch the music video below:
“The Planet Of Straw Men” Pre-order:
The Planet Of Straw Men
Album: The Hot Rock
Genre: Alternative Rock/Indie Rock
Release Date: 02/23/99
It’s mind blowing to think that 1999 was 20 years ago. It feels like just yesterday people were bumping “Limp Bizkit,” wearing “Austin 3:16” T-shirts, and stocking up on bottled water and canned food for Y2K. Yes, those are all outdated references, but there are timeless gems that occurred in 1999 that remain relevant. One of those gems is Sleater-Kinney’s fourth album The Hot Rock. Sleater-Kinney in my opinion are one of the greatest “Rock & Roll” bands in music history. Emerging from the “Riot Grrrl” movement of the early 90’s, an impactful movement that utilized the aggressive spirit of “Punk Rock” to take down misogyny and toxic masculinity with a feministic ethos, “Sleater-Kinney” consisted of members of pre-existing “Riot Grrrl” bands such as “Heavens to Betsy” and “Excuse 17.” After three incredible albums that garnered much attention for their raucous and thought provoking styles, “Sleater-Kinney” went in a different direction in 1999 for their fourth album The Hot Rock. After turning down record deal offers from numerous major labels to remain on the label “Kill Rock Stars,” the band went in a more mellow and melodic direction with The Hot Rock. Though some tracks still featured that raw and cutting style, the bulk of the album is gloomier with lyrical content that focuses more on personal themes such as failed relationships and personal uncertainty. The instrumentation is among some of the band’s finest work. The guitar and vocal interplay between members Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein is truly unique, something that is a prominent element in the band’s sound. The Hot Rock was also the second album to feature Janet Weiss on drums, who replaced original drummer Lora MacFarlane. Weiss’ drum work added a more complex structure to the percussive side of the band, and her drumming on The Hot Rock is utterly distinct, subtle but hard-hitting, and the backdrop she provides for Tucker and Bownstein’s technical and at times off-kilter guitar interplay is something only she can do. With the oblique nature of the guitar work and even the incorporation of violin on the tracks “The Size Of Our Love” and “Memorize Your Lines,” and even the melodica that outros the closing track “A Quarter to Three,” it’s evident that the band wanted to branch out of the simplistic conventions affiliated with “Punk Rock.” They wanted to showcase their instrumental talent as well as the lyrical content. Up until The Hot Rock, the band were primarily known for their meaningful and revolutionary lyrical content that often spoke out against misogyny, societal norms, and gender roles. There were however songs that touched on sentimental themes such as relationships and internal struggle, and The Hot Rock delves more into those themes. The unfortunate heartbreak that occurs when a relationship ends, or the feeling of uncertainty that can even be the resulting frustration of the unfair societal norms the band rails against, these themes introduced us to the gloomier side of the band, and it was just as impactful as their raucous side. “You say “Sink or swim,” what a cruel, cruel phrase. I’d rather fly,” sings Brownstein on the track “The End of You” where the band confidently rises above the enticement of money and the superficiality of the entertainment business, which could allude to their dismissal of major labels. Even though this album is more introspective, it isn’t without it’s content that looks outward. “God is a Number” spoke on how technology was becoming immensely dominant and our reliance on it was inevitable, which in retrospect is frightening how right they were given our technology-driven nature of today. The following track “Banned From The Edge Of The World” spoke on the ridiculousness of the Y2K scare. “I’ve no millennial fear. The future is here. It comes every year,” Tucker and Brownstein sing fearlessly. Moments like these conveyed the fearlessness of the band, but it’s also the sentimental tracks that cut like a knife. The line “Our love is the size of these tumors inside us” on the track “The Size Of Our Love” speaks on the uncertainty of a relationship or marriage and how they can become stagnant, which leads to the helpless feeling of wanting the relationship to work but but deep down knowing it has a vast potential to get much worse. The personal feeling of uncertainty on much of these tracks is something we can all relate to, and that combined with topical worldviews, backed by an ambitious focus on instrumentation, it was clear that the band were making the music they wanted to make, and that is incredibly inspirational. The Hot Rock arrived at the perfect time. The album’s instrumentation, honest content, and DIY aesthetic precursed the “Indie Rock” explosion of the early 2000’s. “Sleater-Kinney” have given us a lot to be thankful for.
Written By: Steven Sandoval
Washington, D.C. band “Priests” are set to release their new album The Seduction of Kansas on April 5th via “Sister Polygon Records,” and following the album’s danceable and quite catchy lead single of the same name, the band have shared another track off the album titled “Good Time Charlie.” Inspired by Tom Hanks’ portrayal of congressman Charlie Wilson in the film Charlie Wilson’s War, the track is more politically-charged than it’s preceding single, alluding to the foolishness of Charlie Wilson and how he’s depicted in the media. You can listen to the track and watch the lyric video below:
Artist: Cherry Glazerr
Album: Stuffed & Ready
Genre: Indie Rock/Alternative Rock/Indie Pop
Clementine Creevy is pretty much the sole member of “Cherry Glazerr,” a band that formed in Los Angeles, California back in 2013, and the rotating lineup has allowed the band to reinvent themselves with each listen. Starting off as a lo-fi “Indie Rock” project, and then moving into a “Garage Rock” direction filled with youthful fervor, “Cherry Glazerr” has always emphasized instrumentation, knowing the importance of musicianship, and that strong focus on instrumentation has never been more apparent than on the band’s fourth album Stuffed & Ready. The production is polished and the instrumentation is immaculate trading in the raucous delivery of their previous work for lush layers of jangly “Dream Pop” reminiscent guitars that go from gentle and dreamy to loud and distortingly ear-splitting very often throughout the album. Lead singer and guitarist Clementine Creevy’s subtle vocals may not always match the intensity of the instrumentation, but her introspective lyricism that often focuses inward is intriguing and admirable. The lyrical content delves into themes such as uneasiness, uncertainty, and these themes are at times delivered in a self-deprecative tone. “My isolation is simple and stupid as me,” sings Creevy on the unsparingly honest track “Isolation.” The theme of solitude is often explored, and it’s faced head-on on the track “Self Explained,” where Creevy details the unfair pressure she puts on her self to go out and Socialize simply because she’s afraid of being alone. “I don’t want people to know how much time I spend alone” sings Creevy, and that brutal honesty and the sound of embarrassment in her voice leads to a heartbreaking listen. The track “Daddi” features a desperate need for guidance, and the lyrics are quite discomforting at times, but these songs are never self-deprecating or brutally melancholy for shock value. You can hear it in her voice that she’s taking herself to therapy by realizing and tackling the negatives to overcome them in an attempt to find her own personal liberty, and though the lush instrumentation can distract you from the words that are being said, it’s definitely worth it to delve into the lyrics, because they completely add new context to the songs when reading them. Compared to other artists within the genre who may deliver this style better, this album can seem inessential, but there’s no denying that this album is emotionally effective, and that maturity is captivating.
Written By: Steven Sandoval
Artist: Le Butcherettes
Genre: Alternative Rock/Post-Punk/Garage Rock/Art Rock
Some musicians are just completely captivating, whether it be on record, or during a confrontational live show, some musicians just demand your attention. Teresa Suárez Cosío A.K.A. Terri Gender Bender is without a doubt one of those enthralling musicians. The Denver, Colorado born artist started playing guitar and writing songs at a very young age when her and her family moved to Mexico. She has embarked on countless music endeavors since she was fully established in the music business, everything from her “Bosnian Rainbows” project with frequent collaborator Omar Rodríguez-López, to her star-studded supergroup “Crystal Fairy,” you can bet she puts her blood, sweat, and tears into everything she does, but her main project, the one that has her full heart is “Le Butcherettes.” Starting out as a “Garage Rock” duo that drew a lot of influence from feminism, “Le Butcherettes” have had a rotating lineup throughout the years, which has lead the project to vastly shapeshift on each album. Their 2011 debut Sin Sin Sin was a minimalist howl that spoke on gender politics, their following album Cry Is For The Flies was a lot darker and sinister in nature without losing it’s thought provoking and immensely poetic lyricism, and the band’s third album A Raw Youth contained synth-heavy Glam with a grandiose presentation. One thing has remained among these style changes though, and that’s sole member Terri Gender Bender’s personality and distinct style. Her artistic style of deep cutting and sometimes zany vocals, raw and grungy guitar riffs, and her signature organ that sounds like a circus from Hell are all what makes her style so incredibly unique and intriguing, and on her new album with a new live band bi/MENTAL features all of these things and then some. Everything that has made the band so musically compelling is perfectly incorporated into the mix, but the melodic and lush delivery with an underlying sense of melancholy but strong self-aware ethos are all balanced out perfectly on this album, making this the band’s best work to date. bi/MENTAL is largely ambitious with artistic instrumentation filled with Proggy synths, “Post-Punk” ridden guitars, groovy basslines, and some of the best sounding drum work there has ever been on a “Le Butcherettes” record, but of course, the main thing that sticks out and immediately grabs the listeners attention is Terri Gender Bender’s impactful vocals and meaningful lyrics. There are recurring themes of mental illness and bipolar disorder on these songs, and how these things can be hereditary and run through a family’s bloodline. These subjects are poetically delivered and the myriad of changing emotions conveyed on these songs reflect the theme of bipolar disorder. One song can be about self-empowerment and conjuring up the courage to rid yourself of a toxic relationship like the track “strong/ENOUGH,” but then the emotion can completely change like on the track “in/THE END” where Terri sings “In the end we’re faithless. We’re just in search for guidance” speaking on the frantic and confused human condition. The ever-changing sentiments on these songs beautifully represent the mindset of most humans who can’t help but get lost in introspective thought, and Terri fearlessly delivers these themes, forcing you to hang on to every word that is said. Some of these tracks are largely collaborative. Jello Biafra of “Dead Kennedys” provides a spoken word outro on the opening track “spider/WAVES,” artist and activist Alice Bag provides vocals on the sinister sounding “mother/HOLDS,” and all of these songs are cleanly produced by Jerry Harrison of “Talking Heads” and “The Modern Lovers,” but as effective as these features are, none of them overshadow Terri Gender Bender. They probably couldn’t if they tried, because her artistry is completely captivating and it’s very evident that she is an important figure in modern “Rock.” There’s no doubt that she’ll continue to push the boundaries and provoke thought, and that is the kind of ambition we need in the music world today.
Written By: Steven Sandoval
Oklahoma trio “Skating Polly” released a fantastic album titled The Make It All Show earlier this year, a promising album that showed us that the band may very well be on their way to becoming a leading force in “Alternative Rock.” Today the band have shared a new music video for their track “Free Will At Ease.” You can watch the video below: