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It’s Not a New Wave or: How I Finally Fell in Love with Sleater-Kinney in 2015

A Parallel Planets piece by Kannika Pena
As I write this, I have only listened to three of Sleater-Kinney’s albums (namely Dig Me Out, The Hot Rock, and the latest, No Cities to Love).  I truly hope nobody shoots me for admitting this.  As such, it is not a qualified review as it is more of a “I’m feeling really different about everything after listening to this band” write-up. I remember trying to listen to them at different points in my life and the songs I would randomly listen to would never really resonate with me on a gut level. But somehow, one fortuitous day, "No Cities to Love" came on a Spotify radio shuffle, and suddenly I was hooked.

photo from Consequence of Sound
First of all, I am not one of those people who have been fans of the band since time immemorial. Let it be known that I truly regret this. Not because I think it would’ve made me a lot cooler right now, but because I could’ve used songs like “Dig Me Out” — “Dig me out, dig me in / Outta this mess, baby, outta my head” — with Corin Tucker’s confident howling vocals, Carrie Brownstein’s always surprising guitar riffs, and Janet Weiss’s precise beats - when I was younger and much more impressionable. Imagine how much more confident I would be if I had these women to look up to when I was ten.

 But, I do believe that, just like with books that eventually come to mean something to you, some songs and bands are presented to you by the universe when you’re ready for them. And man, am I ready for some Sleater-Kinney. There’s a certain strength to their songs that would’ve overwhelmed me back when I exclusively listened to sad bastard music and indie pop. But right now, I’m older, slightly more attuned with who I am and really gunning for who I eventually want to be - and their songs seem like the perfect soundtrack to this overhaul that I am aiming for. I just know that I will remember 2015 as the year when I finally took a step forward with my personal goals and the year that I fell in love with Sleater-Kinney. Sure, I still have self-doubts about these steps that I am taking with my life, but at the same time who the hell cares if I fail or not - I should just let myself stop trying and just be. There’s a sense of that kind of gung-ho attitude when it comes to risks in Sleater-Kinney’s songs. You just know that the most glorious moments on their record were borne out of taking chances.

 When I first began listening to Sleater-Kinney, I had a battle with Corin Tucker’s voice. It is full-bodied, but there’s a struggle to every high note that comes out - and so it felt like a struggle to listen to it. But after listening to it over and over again, juxtaposed with the songs where she sings a little softly, I have finally succumbed. It is one of the most unique, beautiful, strong, and vulnerable voices I have heard. It is always a surprise what she decides to do with her voice on each song she sings on. 

Also, how awesome is No Cities to Love? It doesn’t sound like a comeback record at all. The songs sound fresh and vital and relevant, and now that I’ve gone through most of their discography (I am writing this two weeks after the first three paragraphs, after digesting most of their songs and overplaying the heck out of that NPR live-streaming of their show), all I can say is wow. The hooks are so much stronger (I’m sure I’m not the first one to attempt to “sing along” to the guitar riffs at the beginning of “Fangless” and “No Cities to Love”), Corin’s and Carrie’s duelling voices seem even more perfect together, and they sound nothing like anything that I listen to.

 I'm ready for Sleater-Kinney, and I'm so glad I am.


More from Sleater-Kinney:  Website, Facebook, Twitter


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