Dig Me Out

Sleater-Kinney

Kill Rock Stars Records, 1997

REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/10/1998

Cliches are a music critic's bread and butter. Shit, I just proved my point. One of the biggest offense that critics use is the term, "pop savvy". It's way beyond cheese and it has the ability to make readers want to belt the pudgy local paper critic with spoiled produce.

I came face to face with this term while reading the dozens of props to the girl group, Sleater-Kinney. "Pop savvy?" Vocalist Carrie Brownstein's voice is a constant barrage of shrieks and yells, her and co-guitarist Corin Tucker's guitar work are often fuzzy bursts of energy and drummer Janet Weiss (the latest member of the band) bangs away like a true, old school punk.

This is not pop, is it? Far too many times, the image of bands like the Backstreet Boys and AOR leaches like Bryan Adams comes to mind. It's hard to believe that Sleater-Kinney fits into this category. But Sleater-Kinney is very much pop in the 90s as Husker Du was in the 80s. For the first couple of listens, you may just hear noise, but give it a couple of chances and you'll hear a very discipline unit.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The best example of this is the strict verse-chorus-verse pattern throughout the album. Each song does its best not to go beyond three minutes. And Sleater-Kinney does a great job of learning some tips from previous pop masters aka the Go-Gos like hand-clap in "Little Babies." That song even has "dum dum dee dee dee dum dum dee dum do" in the chorus. I swear, each time I hear that song I have a craving for a chocolate malt and a cheese frenchie.

For as much as Sleater-Kinney borrows from pop's greatest moments from the '50s to the '80s, they are very much in the now. The lyrics go from pure nonsense to crystal sharp confessional. "Things You Say," "Heart Factory" and especially "One More Hour" are brutal in their honesty. And for a little more '90s luster, at least two of the members are either lesbian or lean very heavily towards lesbianism.

Any ignorant rednecks or easily imtimidated geekboys who are offset by the band's honesty are missing out on one of the hardest rockin' albums in the last few years. Hate to dis Hole's new album again, but this sounds like the appropriate successor to Live Through This.

However, Sleater-Kinney does not deserve to be judged by standards laid by other bands. Nor should they be judged, props or no props, on their political or lifestyle beliefs. They're not a novelty band, they simply rock out. I'm anxiously awaiting some cash flow right now so I can go out and buy Call The Doctor, the album before Dig Me Out.

Three zingers, "Little Babies," "Dance Song '97" and the scream-a-long chorus of "Words and Guitar" should make people give Dig Me Out a few more listens before appreciating the pop sense of the band. My only hope for the band is that they refine their sound a bit. Don't get me wrong, Dig Me Out rocks, but the band does not have a bassist. Duo guitars are enough for this album, but if they can rock this hard, Lord only knows what will happen if they get a solid, thumping bass in the background. But that comes next year. If you haven't picked up this one yet, it should keep you satisfied for at least seven or eight months. Rock out.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 1998 Sean McCarthy and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Kill Rock Stars Records, and is used for informational purposes only.