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I've always wanted to like Sleater-Kinney, and I've faked it pretty well. I mean, what self-respecting female who plays electric guitar in rock bands doesn't like Sleater-Kinney? But something about Corin Tucker's voice and lyrics just didn't do anything for me. Until The Woods.

The Woods was recorded mostly live, and if you thought previous Sleater-Kinney records rocked your pants off, you'd best invest in some suspenders. The Woods is Tucker, guitarist-singer Carrie Brownstein and drummer Janet Weiss pushing their instruments and their sound as a band to its ultimate potential: The melodies are wicked, the rhythms intoxicating, the songwriting skilled. Tucker's vocal chords do things human vocal chords should not be physically able to do as distorted guitars scrape and drums roll beneath the heavens.

Lyrically, The Woods is the band's most well-written album yet; "The Fox" is allegorical, "Modern Girl" clever; there is anger, adoration, glee, desperation. While One Beat (Kill Rock Stars, 2002) was at times directly political, The Woods is cloudier, seeped in allusion and postulations: "Reality is the new fiction they say," cries Brownstein on "Entertain," "true is truer these days, truth is man-made."

The Woods is not just an excellent Sleater-Kinney record, nor just an amazing record made by an all-female band; this record is remarkable in its ability to revitalize punk (and my opinion of the band) regardless of gender. The guitar melodies, especially on "Wilderness" and "Rollercoaster," the drums and the honesty behind the lyrics are what make punk rock exhilarating; combined with Tucker and Brownstein's voices, The Woods proves true punk can never die.

More by Annie Holub


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