Sunday, August 24, 2008

Theory: One Beat is the best Sleater-Kinney Album

Evidence in favor:
-Janet Weiss's always amazing drumming reaches epic heights of complexity and rock-itude.
-Corin Tucker's vocals find the balance between overwraught wailing and indie girl cuteness that had heretofore eluded her.
-Carrie Brownstein sings a lot more and is awesome and has a good blog on npr where she writes about music etc.
-It addresses 9/11 in a way that sounds real and does not feel dated even hearing it for the first time way later.
-The songs rock ferociously in a kind of punk way but are also complicated and interesting in their song structures. There are interesting instrumental fluorishes that never detract from the central power trio sound.
-Dig Me Out is great, and gives it a run for its money, but doesn't have the maturity or pop sophistication as this one. The Hot Rock and All Hands on the Bad One sound relatively aimless by comparison.

Weaknesses in my argument:
-I have never heard Call the Doctor or The Woods.

Once again, god bless Brooklyn stoop sales! I picked up this and The Hot Rock for (I think) two bucks each a couple weeks ago and I can't stop listening to it. I had never been that into S-K (despite Drischord's playing All Hands... (among others) on various road trips and whatnot), but this album just nails it. Corin Tucker's got an amazing voice but Dig Me Out always grated me just a little because her voice was so warbly. But it's more reined in (though not as much as on The Hot Rock) and the ineterplay with Carrie Brownstein's contrapuntal vocals is amazing. You can basically always win me over with contrapuntal vocals.

Also, seeing clips of them live on youtube makes me regret very much that I didn't take the opportunity to see them live when they still existed.


Quinapalus said...

You've never heard The Woods?? Well look, I won't claim this isn't a controversial opinion, but The Woods is by FAR my favorite Sleater-Kinney album. You need to give it a listen before I can really engage in this discussion.

Eric said...

Haha- I know. That's why I conceded that up front. And I don't think that's a controversial opinion at all-- I think a fair number of people hold it. It's on the list.

drischord said...

You didn't ever see them live? What about New Years' leading into '05? Madison Square Garden opening for Wilco and Flaming Lips. I could have sworn you were there.

Anyway, "One Beat" is my favorite as well. I love Corin Tucker's voice. The chorus to "Oh!" is so awesome.

My ranking order:

1. One Beat
2. All Hands on the Bad One
3. The Woods
4. The Hot Rock
5. Dig Me Out (grating)

Never heard Call the Doctor, but given that I didn't really like Dig Me Out, I'm happy to skip it.

drischord said...

And if you were at the MSG show, you might have forgotten their performance because it wasn't that memorable. I've seen them live twice, and while Janet Weiss's drumming legitimately blew me away, nothing else really did. Their lack of a bass live is noticable, even though Corin Tucker plays with an octave pedal a lot of the time.

Overall, I'd say good but not great live. In the overrated category along with My Morning Jacket.

Quinapalus said...

I actually really enjoyed them the one time I saw them live in Chicago. They certainly have a rabidly devoted fan base, and honestly part of the fun of the live experience was how much everyone else in the crowd was clearly being blown away by the show...but I'd say it was great.