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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Sleater-Kinney
The Woods
Sub Pop Records

Rating: 8.5/10 ?


May 23, 2005
Think about 2002 for a moment: we had already been through September 11th and were mired in confusion. We were screaming for ways to release our raw, unified energy, and were often dissatisfied at the moves being made. Sleater-Kinney's sixth album, One Beat, was written as a response to these feelings and, while poignant, dared us all to change.

In 2005, their follow-up, The Woods, harkens back to that statement, angered by how little we've accomplished. It is incensed, dark with disappointment, and shows a startling new side to Sleater-Kinney; while its intensity makes it one of their best albums to date, it isn't here to make friends or fans. The Woods gives voice to ferocious disillusionment.

With Dave Fridmann on the production helm, The Woods is a sinister allegory featuring more guitar dissonance, corrosive buzz and thick, sludgy bass lines than ever before. And, while it is a bold statement to make, one might even argue that they are more fervent than they've ever been; The Woods makes a solid case. Any album that drives Sleater-Kinney to a whole new level of passion undoubtedly has something profound to say.

With all of this deep resentment and shadow diving, one might worry that S-K's newest effort could be fairly inaccessible. Thankfully, this is not so. While not brimming with kinetic singles, its testimonies resound with an astonishing brightness. The Woods recalls the fairytales of the Brothers Grimm, whose stories, while classic, hid threatening secrets. One can't help but remember Peter and the Wolf upon hearing the deceptively simple narrative of "The Fox" and know that there is danger lurking everywhere.

Likewise, while the bluesy stomp of "What's Mine is Yours" and the eyelash-batting wit of "Modern Girl" may sound especially great on a summer day, car windows rolled down, their words upstage their accessibility. On the furious highlight, "Entertain", as the chorus calls for sheepish enlistment, the ladies make up for lost time since One Beat: "Reality is the new fiction they say/truth is truer these days/truth is man-made." You can feel their rage as society lapses back into its previous, oblivious contentment and accepts its hand-fed placebos of "resolution." And, on the heroic guitar saga, "Wilderness", they add, "Move to a city where hippies run wild/everything's white now so are the smiles/they claim to fight the good fight". It's clear that those once at the helm of change have become intoxicated by idyllic, suburban comfort. Perhaps such pacification is why The Woods can afford its complex optimism - it is an intervention in search of honest hope and progress.

As Fridmann's pet project, the shining girl-group satire, "Modern Girl", slyly states, "TV brings me closer to the world/my whole life is like a picture of a sunny day", we hear Sleater-Kinney's desperation for realism, as recognizing the harsh truths of stilted progress and injustice since September 11th will help motivate and refocus our efforts. Hearing their passion, we relate and we believe; with Sleater-Kinney, we have always done both, but never so urgently.

Reviewed by Sarah Peters
A former music editor and staff writer for LAS, Sarah Peters recently disappeared. Perhaps one day she will surface again, who knows.

See other reviews by Sarah Peters

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