Slow Music Review: Sleater-Kinney – The Woods

People try too hard. You see it everywhere; in Politics, in Management, and especially in the Arts. I have nightmares still of all the pointless ‘discussions’ about the avant-garde in Music and how we classical composers somehow had to push the form ever forward into some kind of rigid shape it didn’t belong. This idiotic mentality has even began to lay its clammy fingers on the popular side of things, as shown by the rise of ‘intelligent’ pop and ‘math-rock’. The way I see it is that too much thought and preparation can easily kill the joy found at music’s core. The joy that makes it worth listening to. Music wants to be free. The Arts want to be free. They want to be instinctive and sinuous; a living representation of the human committing sound to paper. Thinking about it takes the nature out of the thing and makes it sound fake and insincere. Well, to me at least. What’s worse is that people who should know better grab onto this perceived ‘education’ behind the music as proof of it’s superiority. Bollocks to that. All music has it’s high points and it’s lows and any agenda of ‘education’ behind it is irrelevant. All that matters is that switch clicking on when you hear something. That switch that makes you feel something real. Something authentic. With that in mind, let’s watch a performance.

Oh Sleater-Kinney; with shame I admit that I have been complacent in my affection. But take heart that I know you now and you have cut a new facet in me. Entertain does that, with it’s sheer sludge verse holding a visceral vocal that bluntly criticizes us, the public, and our insatiable needs. In the most anti-poetic yet powerful manner this song takes all the frustration of having to blindly satisfy the public instead of leading them. Powerful stuff from a powerful album. I think that’s what I like most about Sleater-Kinney; so many bands and artists (myself included) complain about the world through song and mention it at every interval they can. Call it U2 syndrome – we all just have to have a cause. Yet because everybody does it the message gets muddled and lost; you can’t see who honestly believes and who only does because it is expected. ‘The Woods’ is such a hunk of rage, reflection and sweetness (of the kind offered before the boots hit teeth) that you can’t ignore what it has to say. You want to know why these people feel this way. You want to rage with them and burn the oily-patina off of society so the green earth can live again. Authentic. Meaningful. So much more interesting then the generic hollow politic of the charts.

The thing is; so much of this album I’ve never heard before. Nothing sounds like this. The combinations of tones and vocals and drum patterns. The shift in guitar style from one song to the next. The freedom of form. It is incredibly forward thinking in it’s sheer lack of care for what is expected of it. It’s freshness holds age irrelevant. Brilliant stuff.

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