By Michael Pettiti
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Sleater-Kinney: The Woods
The three women of Sleater-Kinney (Carrie Brownstein, Corin Tucker and Janet Weiss) have long been unintentional bastions of the female 'grrrrl rock' movement. Now, with the release of The Woods (their seventh full-length) they prove, as most suspected all along, to be just plain great 'rock' musicians (no excessive tags necessary).
The back story behind this album had many fans fearing and plenty of enemies cheering for a resounding thud of a release. Quick facts: This album was the first on a new label (Subpop Records) that seems more recently to be leaning away from rock and towards quiet folk (Iron & Wine) or quirky pop (Wolf Parade), the band recruited top pysch-rock producer Dave Fridmann (Mercury Rev, The Flaming Lips), and they moved from their comfy Washington State stomping grounds to the great unknown of rural New York. Quick outcome: The album is a triumph of the sound the band has worked long and hard to refine.
"The Fox" opens the album with Brownstein and Tuckers' squealing guitars and Weiss' thunderous drumming and ushers in a new era of loud: retro-loud. The whole album seems immersed in the sounds of late '70s rock and the ghosts of Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead and Black Sabbath abound throughout the record. Interestingly, the album couldn't be any more original despite its riff-checking.
9 out of 10
Much of the props for The Woods has to go to the musicians, who all seem to get better, sharper and more visceral with each release. Weiss' drumming is splendid and often propels the songs to new heights. However, one would be remiss to ignore Brownstein and Tuckers' guitar rips, which really control and shift the momentum of the songs.
While the whole album is a highlight reel, select songs really stand out. "Wilderness" rides a Dead-esque riff that is equally fuzzed out and sunny. Meanwhile, the lovely "Modern Girl" is a ballad that turns into a distorted psychedelic goulash without ever losing its charm or power. Finally, "Entertain," the album's first single, is a vicious piece of angry rock 'n' roll that has the sound of catharsis on record.
Though The Woods is not a perfect album, (occasionally saggy or repetitive), it's the year's best rock album and likely to destroy any speakers daring enough to turn it up to 11.
Jamie Lidell: Multiply
What does a white, British musician know about Motown, Stax, soul, jazz and funk? Apparently a whole lot more than any white, American musicians. On Multiply, British DJ and one-half of international electronic Super_Collider Jamie Lidell one-ups Justin Timberlake and any other contenders to the throne of 'White Soul Boy.'
As well-versed in soul as an artist can be, Lidell makes Multiply his tribute to all the greats in the genre. Not only does his voice often sound like Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Otis Redding and Sly Stone, but he also has the instrumental know-how to nail their respective sounds and styles perfectly.
8 out of 10
Title-track "Multiply" is "(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay" for the glitch-pop generation. Elsewhere, "Game of Fools" is a soulful ballad about love that finds time to occasionally slip in its electronic flourishes. However, Lidell is not only about electronically manipulating the classics, as much of the album relies on live instrumentation, displayed perfectly on "A Little Bit More" where his Sly Stone baritone is incorporated into a funky bass-slap jam.
Often Multiply is a rewarding listen that reveals itself after each subsequent spin. However, it is sometimes a frustrating listen when Lidell insists on laying on the electronics, but when he lets his vocals soar, the results are pleasing.