They’re nothing if they’re not unique.

Paul Wong
One Beat
Kill Rock Stars

They’re unique in a good way.

They’re unique in a “Time-Magazine’s-America’s-Best-Rock-Band-Award” kinda way.

There is something immediately recognizable and distinctive about the sound of the riot-grrl power trio Sleater-Kinney. Hear them once and you will know them always.

S-K’s new album, One Beat, is fiercely laden with the solid, take-no-prisoners content that’s become. Carrie Brownstein’s riffs paired with Corin Tucker’s crazy vibrato and Janet Weiss’s energetic rhythms totally drive the album. The tracks mix indie and feminist ideals with raw punk attitude and fall into that generalization that is begging to be overused; riotgrrl (hey can’t be more anymore played out than emo).

One Beat continues where 2000’s All Hands on that Bad One left off. It rocks out like all the high-points of Dig Me Out while retaining the emotional sensibility of The Hot Rock. More than ever, the album encompasses every positive feature of a band that even the Village Voice touted as unable to “make anything less,” than “masterpiece.” It seems to be, for the time at hand, the final exam in the S-K coursework.

The best tracks on the album include “Oh!” and “Prisstina,” which are in the same strong vein as previous classics like “I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone” and “You’re No Rock ‘n’ Roll Fun.” But the track with the most interesting content by far is the extremely political “Combat Rock,” where Tucker and Brownstien belt their hearts out about the state of American foreign policy and feminist ideals. “Gentlemen, start your engines/And you know where we get the oil from.”

My only warning to the listener is that S-K has never been a band into pitch or being on key. They’re very much about vibe and energy. You could say this about a lot of music though. For example, play me a Neutral Milk Hotel song where Jeff Mangum hits the notes, and I’ll be plain old knocked from my seat.

Anyway, all minor criticism aside, no one should be driven away with the “this is just-another-chick-band” cop-out. S-K is something special. The sound is groundbreaking. The message is meaningful.

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