By: Eric Greenwood
Returning from the creative slump of One Beat, Portland, Oregon's Sleater-Kinney has jumped from long-time label, Kill Rock Stars, to almost-major-label, Sub Pop, and surprisingly churned out its most explosive album in years with The Woods. Even if Corin Tucker's flailing vibrato wail grates on your nerves after a few songs, her new found appreciation for bristling, feedback-drenched, borderline psychedelic guitar interplay with bandmate Carrie Brownstein will surely make you re-evaluate the cause. Flaming Lips producer David Fridmann is responsible for nurturing the abrupt dynamic shift, but Tucker and Brownstein rise to the challenge with fistfuls of artful noise. Not exactly radio friendly, The Woods explores sonic deconstruction a la Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix instead of the preciously catchy indie pop hooks you've come to expect.
It's far and away the most raucous thing the band has ever recorded and Janet Weiss' drumming pounds harder than anything since 1997's Dig Me Out. The band sounds urgent and reinvigorated on caustic barn burners "Wilderness" and the 11-plus minute epic "Let's Call It Love"- like it's making music because it has to or it will whither up and die. With an album this uncommercial and experimental, I seriously doubt you'll see Sleater-Kinney on The O.C. next season, but you will see the band on my iPod.