I am attempting to review a new Sleater-Kinney release with the disappointment still fresh in my mind that I wasn't able to buy tickets to see the band when they were in D.C. this weekend for the Women's March. My disappointment is, of course, silly since I'm happy that this perennially-excellent band were here in this town to support such an important cause. That they are about to release an absolutely fiery live album -- their first, actually -- is another reason to be happy.
Live in Paris from Sleater-Kinney drops on Sub Pop on Friday. Recorded on a recent tour for their "comeback" album (the amazing No Cities To Love), the record is a deft updating of that very Seventies live album idea. In an era when it seems as if live albums are not quite as necessary as they once were, Live in Paris sort of upends that theory, reminding even casual fans what a magnificent back-catalog this crew has got, and what great players they are in a concert setting.
A blazing "Price Tag" segues into a rhythmic run at "Oh" from 2002's excellent One Beat. Elsewhere, No Cities Left To Love standout "A New Wave" here takes on a vibe reminiscent of early, punk-y Pretenders, or even Gang of Four standards. A raging "No Cities to Love" pleases the clearly appreciative audience in Paris, while "I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone" -- one of the first songs I ever heard from this trio and the one that made me an instant fan -- roars with riot grrl intent, its fire actually stoked up a bit in the ensuing 21 (!) years since its first release. "Turn It On" remains the band's rallying cry, Janet Weiss absolutely destroying it on the kit on this one, while "Dig Me Out" is pure punk, and a blast of both energy and hard melody. Live in Paris closes with an absolutely stunning stab at "Modern Girl" from 2005's The Woods.
Live in Paris is pure energy barely contained and one cannot help but marvel at how Corin Tucker, Carrie Brownstein, and Janet Weiss have maintained the fire and drive for more than two decades. A crash course into one of the most essential back-catalogs in American indie, Live in Paris from Sleater-Kinney is one of this week's best new releases. Old fans will surely embrace this as much as I did, while new(er) fans will find it a usual and masterful primer on the tuneful anarcho-uplift of Sleater-Kinney.
[Photo: Jason Williamson]