Release Date: Sep 18, 2012
Record label: Kill Rock Stars
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter
Over punchy guitar lines that approximate (if not resuscitate) her old band, the former Sleater-Kinney leader opens with awakened-giant fury, reanimating her passion in “Groundhog Day. ” “Almost equal / Almost good enough / Almost had a woman going to the White House,” she sings, before holding the iron to those almosts. Tucker and her band beat up their notes; staccato piano taps against a stuttering drum beat in the title track, while “Neskowin” skips and kicks at half-speed.
While Corin Tucker's first post-Sleater-Kinney album, 1,000 Years, occasionally felt like it had training wheels on it, her second album with her band of Pacific Northwest all-stars, Kill My Blues, comes roaring out of the gate. The time spent touring in support of 1,000 Years only sharpened her songwriting and fully rekindled her passion, and she reclaims the war whoop of her voice effortlessly, using it to decry personal and political outrages. Kill My Blues' ferocious opening track, "Groundhog Day," attacks on both levels: a stunned Tucker compares herself to "Rip Van Winkle in a denim miniskirt" as she rails against the backsliding on women's issues during the 2010s, which must seem all the more baffling to someone so committed to advancing feminism in her music.
When a seminal band breaks up and its members go on to new projects, the output and fan reaction is usually mixed. Many musicians go out of their way to ensure that their new project is a complete break with the past without realizing that change can be awkward and unnatural for their fans who yearn for the sound of the good ol’ days. After an ambitious debut that was a departure from her legendary band, Sleater-Kinney, Corin Tucker went back to her roots on Kill My Blues and shows why her brand of lo-fi indie punk had such a strong following in the first place.
Actions may never speak louder than words when it comes to someone with a voice as powerful and distinctive as Corin Tucker. But the iconic ex-Sleater-Kinney singer can talk the talk because you know she walks the walk, always exuding a sense of authenticity in the way she relays her experiences. It’s just that, at almost 40, with a family and a day job, the experiences that inform her songwriting on Kill Your Blues are different from those that she made her name with in her ‘20s, though, rest assured, she sounds as steadfast as ever to the grrrl power causes that’ll be forever associated with her.
The overworked production and stodgy, overly polite songwriting that made Corin Tucker Band’s 1,000 Years such a disappointing debut have been cast aside on Kill My Blues. At turns ferocious and swaggering, the album fully establishes CTB as something more than just a side project to pass the time until Sleater-Kinney gets back together. The arrangements are organic and lived in, and the distinct influences of each member of the band figure prominently in the album’s overall style, making it far more than just a showcase for Tucker.
At what age does your feminist anger stop being qualified as "riot grrrl rage"? Kill My Blues, the Corin Tucker Band's sophomore album, is being heralded as the former Sleater-Kinney bandleader's default to her '91 Olympia factory settings. This is a fantastic prospect surely stoking our 1990s nostalgia and wiping the weird taste of her previous album off our palates, but it doesn't quite hold. Tucker is now a grown-azz, 39-year-old woman, and on Kill My Blues she tackles topics that weren't on her riot girl radar at 20: mortality, the joy of conception, how she could use a vacation.
Before Hurricane Ditto the loudest riot grrrl on the west coast was Corin Tucker, wind-tunnel frontwoman for Sleater-Kinney. With S-K still cleaved in half, Tucker is on her second solo album, a return to rocking ways after 2010's quieter 1,000 Years. Accompanied with sass and subtlety by bits of Unwound and Stephen Malkmus's Jicks, Tucker opens with a rallying cry about feminism treading water.
It’s now been seven years since Sleater-Kinney’s phenomenal swansong and minor reinvention, The Woods, an adventurously noisy final move of one of the most reliably awesome indie-rock bands ever. Two years ago, frontwoman Corin Tucker returned with her self-described “middle-aged mom record”, 1000 Years, a shaky step down from the intensity of her performances in Sleater-Kinney – but on her second outing with her eponymous band, it’s immediately clear that she’s prepared to rock out again. And who says middle-aged mums can’t rock out? She lasts half a verse before kicking into her inimitable upper-register yowl, acknowledging her lapse into domestic comfort before screaming “What’s up y’all?! / I thought we had a plan / Gonna move things forward for us and women round the globe”.
It would seem that Corin Tucker got all her singer-songwriter-y experimentation out on the occasionally brilliant 1,000 Years, and came back to formulas that hit closer to those die-hard listeners would associate her with. A cynical listener might say that she saw the positive response to the hard-rocking that former Sleater-Kinney band-mates Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss were doing in Wild Flag and decided she could match them. However you’d like to look at it, the Corin Tucker Band’s second album often lingers like a pale shadow of material that we all know that Tucker has done before, and more intensely.
Corin Tucker’s role as a beacon of feminist indie-rock cool will always be secure. Sleater-Kinney’s back catalogue still sounds fearsome and vital, not simply due to Tucker’s notoriously quavering scream, but the trio’s bass-less howling call to arms. After an extended hiatus, Tucker returned in 2010 with ‘1,000 Years’, a more muted response to her former histrionics, embracing world music dalliances and casual introspection.