One Beat CD - Kill Rock Stars

We’ve been banged in the head with the women in rock.... rrr.... rock, so many times over the last decade that it makes one fear a beating when saying that Sleater-Kinney - well, they just don’t rock. Speaking in the most literal terms, their performances never carried the weight (volume, urgency, tension) one might associate with “the rock.” Always short a bassist, though they do a great job covering for it, they simply do not change up their song structures to make any sort of dynamic impact. That is until now. One Beat represents a synergy between the band that has not been seen since 1999’s The Hot Rock, except on this outing the band has a full set of songs that not only “rock” but push the band into new realms of the eclectic. And where The Hot Rock shed the skin of the post-riot girl syndrome by stripping down their sound into a state of self-consciousness, One Beat has the band experimenting with a bigger sound. Take the quirky synthesizers on “Oh!,” or the catchy E-street-like trumpet section on “Step Aside,” or how about that string section in “The Remainder.” Now, Sleater-Kinney are not children. They’re grown women. Yet, I still feel the need to applaud them like they were a child taking their first steps here. It’s not like every band should be praised when they show the incentive to crank out a cow bell (thankfully absent from One Beat) to add to their sound, but you just cannot ignore the wonderful guitar effects that emphasize Carrie Brownstein’s already virtuoso guitar playing. ¶ What makes this album most diverse from their others is the changing of their usual punk rock formula. The title track for example follows the band’s typical stripped-down approach while using every note sparingly to create a driving stop-start melody. “Far Away” on the other hand carries a guitar riff that will get the fists pumping in the air, complimenting vocalist Corrin Tucker’s lyrics that give a personnel account of September 11th. Easily, one of the most socio-political pedestalled bands to have any say, Sleater-Kinney handles the current political climate the only way she knows how; with pointed, bold statements, making One Beat thus far the greatest statement to arise from the underground on the aftermath of September 11th. Maybe this is our “Nuclear Reagan Era” that serves as fuel for the fire, which may not have been dying, but just needed a little redirection. Sleater-Kinney have once again found the right emotion to let them rock, and all it took was a little anger. (Brian Foley)



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