Orchestrated or not, the most brilliant fake out to come in music in a long time occurred last October. With a month of build up, Sub Pop records was releasing on October 21st a seven record box set that would be an all encompassing career retrospective of the beloved indie punk band Sleater-Kinney. Tweets came flying from Sleater-Kinney band member Carrie Brownstein, who today is best known from the Peabody award winning comedy series “Portlandia,” discussing how proud she was of the set, and how this box set would be as a “definitive document” of the group. This was exciting news for yours truly. For you see, Sleater-Kinney happens to be one of my all time favorite bands.
The box set, titled “Start Together,” was the first bit of activity related to Sleater-Kinney in nearly a decade. After their 2005 album “The Woods” the band went on “indefinite hiatus.” However, the universe is a strange and wonderful place. After all the hype on the box set being the definitive portrait of the band, the Monday prior to its release news was spread that there was a special bonus item inside the box. A white 7” single containing a brand new song from the band. On the eve of the carer retrospective, the band announced they had gotten back together and recorded a new album. It's one of the new times I audibly gasped while reading news on my iPhone.
Three months to the day the news was announced, Sleater-Kinney released their first new album in years “No Cities To Love.” I rushed to pre-order it as soon as possible. Is the record any good? There can be an odd sheen to a record from a band that hasn't recorded anything in a long time. No reason to fear that this time, the album is fantastic. If you're an S-K fan, you're going to love every second of it. The band has been quite strong in their distaste of calling this a “comeback” or a “reunion.” Instead, Sleater-Kinney prefer to call it a continuation, I can't think of any better term for it.
“No Cities To Love” picks up right back where they left off, and is as strong as anything on their previous records. I'd rank it right up there with “All Hands on The Bad One” and “Dig Me Out.” The excitement I felt listening to the record was one of those moments that remind you of why you love music in the first place. The electric charge that went through my body as Corin Tucker's mighty voice rang out of my speakers sent a chill up my spine. Tucker, Brownstein, & drummer Janet Weiss all sound perfect on this album. If anything, thanks to Brownstein's exposure with “Portlandia,” I hope this album brings a whole new slew of fans to Sleater-Kinney. It gets my absolute highest recommendation.
What also gets my highest recommendation is the deluxe vinyl release of the album. Special vinyl editions of new records have been happening fairly regularly, and sometimes they're half hearted attempts at making a collectors item, or just to take advantage of the vinyl boom. Sometimes with these deluxe editions come with large increases in the price range. The increase for “No Cities To Love” is only $15 more than the regular vinyl, and it's worth it. Housed in a beautiful hard cardboard slip case-- with a variant on the album's cover--the deluxe is a two 180 gram, white vinyl set. The 2nd LP contains two tracks that are not on the standard issue, with an etching of the album's part of the B side.
Also included is a beautiful triple gatefold cover to hold it all, a lyric sheet, and a double sided poste. If S-K is a band you deeply love, and their return has you as excited as I am about it, it's absolutely worth it to get the deluxe. After a nine year absence one of the most deeply beloved bands of the past 20 years has returned, and they've returned in all their glory. “No Cities to Love” is an absolutely killer album, and you should make a point to pick up a copy of it post haste.