Sleater-Kinney – ‘No Cities to Love’
After their classic rock-influenced last album ‘The Woods’, it was hard to imagine where Sleater-Kinney could possibly go next – and clearly the band themselves didn’t know either. The greatest American guitar band of the post-grunge era disbanded in 2006, leaving behind a legacy of impeccably ferocious rock ’n’ roll.
There are obvious questions about whether a band who recorded almost their entire original body of work while in their twenties can still cut it in their forties, but this reunion album suggests that age hasn’t withered Sleater-Kinney one jot. The terse, melodious racket of ‘No Cities To Love’ is instantly reminiscent of the band’s classic LPs ‘One Beat’ and ‘All Hands on the Bad One’.
The trio’s minimal, super-influential musical formula (two very loud guitars, one very heavy drum kit) is not the sort of thing that dates. But key to this comeback is that the vocals are essentially unchanged: Corin Tucker’s cold fury and Carrie Brownstein’s eccentric hiccups roar and rage and slip and slide with the force of old.
If anything has changed, it’s the source of the band’s anger. Most of ‘No Cities…’ seems concerned with the band itself, its success and its end: ‘It seems to me the only thing that comes from fame is mediocrity,’ keens Tucker. Only the grungy opener ‘Price Tag’ directs its anger out at the world, railing against consumerism with the sort of biblical force that’d sent Nick Cave scampering for cover.
The fact that the title track here is the catchiest thing the band have ever written – and that they’ll soon be playing it to a sold-out Roundhouse – perfectly sums up the quandary one suspects caused Sleater-Kinney to disband in the first place. But though fretting about fame has destroyed lesser bands for good, Sleater-Kinney have come back golden. Success hasn’t killed them after all – it’s made them stronger.
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In case you didn’t know, Scandinavia is cool right now. The food, the fashion, the facial hair – plus the Vikings have invaded the British Museum. All we need next is a healthy economy, a reliable public transport system and a sense of social justice, and London will be indistinguishable from Oslo. Meanwhile in Hackney, there’s yet another Northern European-inspired incursion. Or apparently so: the website claims this bar-restaurant-club draws on ‘a Nordic aesthetic’, although it’s not immediately obvious within. Oslo occupies the previously deserted old Hackney rail station and takes on a bit of a railway theme with its luggage-rack lighting, plus there are industrial stylings that give the whole place a Janet Jackson ‘Rhythm Nation’ video feel. The restaurant part is rather fancy, its food incorporating a few of the forages, pickles, jellies and marinations of New Nordic cooking. The kitchen is regularly given over to guest chefs, and you have to book – it’s always heaving. Eat in the bar and the food is more straightforward. Where once the standard snack in pubs was a toastie, sausage roll or pork pie, now it’s the slider or fried chicken. These are served alongside frankly obscene portions of chips, slathered with the likes of cured bacon fat and bacon salt, or braised oxtail, gravy and cheese. There’s a commendable range of craft beers from the vicinity, including a couple from Five Points Brewing just five minutes up the road at the Downs.Head upstairs and you’ll find a
Venue says: “Join us every Thursday night until late for Soul Soul Soul – a night of vinyl appreciation with DJs playing soul, funk, disco and more.”