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Album Review: Sleater-Kinney | Start Together (Box Set)

 

It was music for the kids in high school who wore worn-out Converse and an air of nonchalance. They didn’t smoke like the others, but drank coffee like water, and listened to Sleater-Kinney with the same kind of aggression. Most were unabashedly convinced they were the only ones the band were singing to.

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Comprised of Corin Tucker, Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss, Sleater-Kinney became enmeshed in the northwest punk scene of the early '90s. To say that this Washington state rock band has had a dedicated following over the years is a bit of an understatement, making this box set of all seven of their albums a warmly welcomed release. Tracks like “I’m Not Waiting” on 1996's Call The Doctor remind us why Sleater-Kinney stood out from other other punk acts with a less realized vision.

"One More Hour" off of 1997's Dig Me Out leaves listeners aching with resounding lyrics like, "In one more hour/I'll leave this room/The dress you wore/The pretty shoes/Are things I left." Later, "Modern Girl" on their 2005 release The Woods reminds all women what the world expects of them: "My baby loves me, I'm so happy/Happy makes me a modern girl/Took my money and bought a TV/TV brings me closer to the world"- in other words, get a man to love you and watch as the world becomes your oyster.

 

 

  

 

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With their feminist, left-leaning lyrics, Sleater-Kinney’s relevance today is obvious. While some singers back away from being labeled "feminist," Sleater-Kinney exists partially to redirect society's perception of the word. With 1995’s first release, the self-titled Sleater-Kinney, this three-piece band from Olympia, Washington contributed to the kaleidoscopic nature of popular music that year (which, in case you forgot, was a lot of TLC and Coolio). Over the next fifteen years, Sleater-Kinney optimized what it was to be a group born during the riot grrrl era, one that continues to inspire girls today. 

 

 

 

As fans listened to each of Sleater-Kinney's albums upon their release, they felt like a personal jam session just for them, but in the kindest way, they weren’t. Every listener of the band is on a riff-filled ride together, an inclusion reaching farther than any bedroom or car. Sleater-Kinney gave many of their fans the first taste of what it was to be a feminist who could smile. They didn’t hide behind any sense of self-doubt, and their music didn’t ask for reassurance of who they were, or who society would allow them to be. -Claire Mckinzie

 

Start Together is out now on Sub Pop Records and is available to order here!

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