Friday, August 12, 2005

No Escape from The Woods

I love this the album, The Woods by Sleater-Kinney. It's like a clingy girlfriend who is amazing in bed. You know you're spending too much time with her and neglecting your other friends but it feels so good at the time.

I've got this album on the brain so much that when I hear things like the guitar solo in the Talking Heads song “The Great Curve” from the Name of the Band is Talking Heads live album, I immediately know for a fact that I've found another one of the pile of influences that went into the playing on The Woods. I need to make a playlist in my iTunes of ‘albums that make me want to listen to The Woods again’, so I'll know not to listen to them if I don't have the hour to spare afterwards. I'm looking at you, Surfer Rosa and Electric Ladyland.

The other thing that had S-K on my mind (besides THAT I'M SEEING THEM OPEN FOR PEARL JAM IN SEPTEMBER) is this interview that Eddie Vedder did with them. (next month is the reverse, S-K interviews Pearl Jam. Also next month, Al loses it completely in the metro centre and will need to be carried to St. John's.) Here's the interview: Link. (Thanks, pants.)
Vedder: My first question has to do with cigarettes and speakers. I wonder what you think about people who smoke cigarettes all their lives and then sue the cigarette companies for their illnesses. They win these class-action suits because it turns out the companies were putting additives in and making them not be able to quit...

Weiss: No one's ever asked us this in an interview before!

Vedder: My question is: I've played your new record in my car, and I blew out the speakers. [laughter] Just like it's some people's choice to continue to smoke, it's my choice to keep pushing up the volume. However, I feel like you made me do it. So should you be responsible for my speakers?
OK, I couldn't resist, blasting “What's Mine is Yours” as I type this. This album is mostly performed live, as mentioned in teh above interview, with just a couple of vocal and guitar tracks put on top of the live performance. It gave me the same vibe as listening to the live Taling Heads album. The instruments soudn like they're played by people, there's no constant rhythm guitar holding up the foundation when the lead guitar starts into a solo and abandons the nice comfortable rhythm. There's no protection.. you're just thrown up into the air for a while, spinning around, being drafted upwards by rising melodies insted of pushed along the ground by a steady reliable and compressed-to-all-hell safety net of rhythm guitar tracks.

Listening to the woods is like going on a wild late night drunken adventure with someone you've only known from a safe distance, but you're seeing a whole other side of them and they're grabbing you by the arm and dragging you to new places. You knew they always had an air of danger to them, and you've anticipated this moment, where they finally cut the lines and you have no idea where you'll end up. “I can show you some shiny tricks / come on let's get our kicks.” You know you'll learn from the experience, because they're smarter than you are, but the chaotic element will sweep you up into the whirlwind. Good bye standard punk rock tunes, hello to taking our heads, cracking them open, spilling out all our notions of rock music canon, throwing them into a blender and bashing it with fuzzed-out guitars.

The vocals are mixed low enough that it feels like you have ot put a bit of effort into listening for them, and picking out what the lyrics are. On the album the drumming and main vocals are placed directly in the center channel, being contantly pressed in on either side by the overbearing but complementary guitars. Then there's the superhuman 'wha oh oh's that no one else could probably physically emulate thrown in the mix to keep things stirred up.

Sleater-Kinney @ The Warfield, San Francisco

When I saw them play in San Francisco I walked in in the middle of “Let's Call it Love” and was immediately mesmorized by Carrie Brownstein wrestling her guitar like it was a boa constrictor, strangling and jabbing the neck to wring out louder and deadlier homages to all your favourite rock guitar solo moments.
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By al - 3:37 AM |

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