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Customer Review

11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Meaty, beaty, big and bouncy, September 22, 2011
This review is from: Wild Flag (Audio CD)
A quick scan of Wild Flag's ingredients might give the impression that this is a new incarnation of girl-power phenom Sleater-Kinney, as two of its members are on board. But riot grrrl purists are likely to be disappointed because Wild Flag is not flying that particular flag. This is straight-up rock 'n' roll.

It's nice to know there are bands in 2011 still confident enough to refrain from slathering their output in gimmicks and synthesized polish. Here there are no samples, loops or other laptop noodling -- and mixing-board activity seems to have been kept to a minimum during production. The only tweak on "Wild Flag" is that the vocals were added in later, probably to allow the music to come through more fully. And it does. There is a palpable sense of space to the mix. The separate recordings also allow the frequent backing vocals to shine through.

The matchup of guitarist Mary Timony of Helium and keyboardist Rebecca Cole of The Minders with Sleater-Kinney band mates Janet Weiss (drums) and Carrie Brownstein (guitar) bears forth the same brand of gritty, meaty blues-rock as Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, or more recently, The Dead Weather. Sleater-Kinney, one of the grrrl movement's enduring identifiers, put out great albums, but by 2005's "The Woods," it seemed to have run out of ideas.

Ideas are plentiful on "Wild Flag," and the energy is often fierce. Timony and Brownstein form an unholy alliance, the latter with her signature guitar-played-as-bass style and the former with a predilection to reach for the heavy-metal high notes. Together, they rage like Godzilla punching holes in skyscrapers, as on the epic, near 7-minute-long morsel of guitar fury, "Racehorse." And Brownstein has such a whip-crack, commanding voice, she could front a polka band and I'd still be listening.

The album's rascal heart is best displayed on the sludgy, hip-swaggering "Boom," Brownstein belting out, voice cracking, "If you need help with your motor / well you can borrow mine, borrow mine." The song puffs itself up and springs forth like a hot rod in a drag race.

There is a definite chemistry between the four veterans, a sense of playful adventure. There are even a couple chuckles from Timony on the nostalgic "Something Came Over Me." The fact that all the members play singing roles gives "Wild Flag" a chummy flavor.

The album's only weakness is the awkward "Glass Tambourine," a lazy, downtempo mess that actually does sound poorly mixed. It sticks out like a sore thumb from an otherwise surprisingly refreshing release.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 7, 2011 2:01:11 PM PST
S.G. London says:
You have the lead vocal duties all wrong. I'm sure you know by now that it's Brownstein that sings lead on "Boom" and "Racehorse," and it's Timony on "Something Came Over Me." Also, "Glass Tambourine" is awesome and is even better live!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 7, 2011 11:26:23 PM PST
K. D. Kelly says:
Thanks, SGR. Boy, is my face red! Nobody questioned it prior to yourself, and I didn't give it a second thought, obviously. I'm even sort of a Sleater-Kinney fan, although I gravitate toward the earlier stuff before Brownstein took over vocal duties -- and that's the only half-ass defense I can muster, lol.
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