SLEATER-KINNEY ‘Live In Paris’ (Sub Pop)
I’ve been following Sleater-Kinney’s Janet Weiss on Twitter (@jazzhand) and she’s been essential reading in this post Trump, alt fact, fake news era, an era which cries out for bands like Sleater-Kinney and the newly resurgent Team Dresch. Sleater-Kinney were formed from riot grrrl royalty. Corin Tucker was part of a band Heavens To Betsy whose promo tape album I remember reviewing back in the day when VS started, inspired by the likes of Wiiija Records Cornershop & Huggy Bear, the 7″s of which led me down a worm hole of DIY fanzine culture led by the likes of Kill Rock Stars label (who released Heavens To Betsy and whose Slim Moon I interviewed back in the original VS zine days), Tobi Vaill, Bikini Kill & Bratmobile. It was my punk rock moment. I was in awe of Mark P’s “Sniffin’ Glue” fanzine, but Bikini Kill were my Clash. And if it wasn’t for the influence of riot grrrl on my early teens I don’t think I’d have so vehemently jumped down my editor’s throat recently when he dared to preface a comment “this might sound sexist but” and then try and say that women aren’t funny.
Just ask Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney the same. The star of cult comedy series “Portlandia” would fix you with a death stare then pummel you into the ground with the curdling rallying cry of “Surface Envy” – “we win, we lose, only together do we break the rules” – stand out hit of the amazing 2015 neo-classic “No Cities To Love”.
I’d always loved “The Woods” but “No Cities To Love” has been played and played and played chez Sheep, so it was good news all round when Sub Pop announced the “Live In Paris” set (recorded at La Cigale). Unfortunately this donut (or should I say choux pastry) left it a couple of hours too late and missed out on the beautiful looking transparent grey “loser edition” vinyl. I’ve been making up for lost time by downloading a copy (i still buy from iTunes being the good conscientious Gen X-er music buyer I am) and it’s a fantastic live punk album that packs the same pelt as any of the studio recordings – no mean feat.
I cannot get enough of Janet Weiss’s metronomic but primal drumming, the true heart and soul of SK’s dynamism and there’s some absolute treats on here, dipping into most of the band’s stellar back catalogue. Highlights include “Dig Me Out” from the Matador album of the same name, the harmonising on “Oh!” from “On Beat” an album I don’t have but will be looking out for, and the “Entertain” and “Jumpers” double header from aforementioned The Woods. Plenty of Franglais crowd interactions, beaucoup en fait, and an apparently unprecedented second encore. Still the word encore is of course French, so perhaps no surprise there.
“Live In Paris” is certainly more than a tasty amuse-bouches before a new Sleater-Kinney album, but given how great a vein of form they’re on I’m definitely hoping for a studio encore too.
Rating: What’s not to love live
Available now from https://megamart.subpop.com/releases/sleater_kinney/live_in_paris
Extra reading, check out Janet Weiss’ band mate in Quasi, Sam Coomes choose his “song for ewe” here…