There was a moment in the mid-’80s when independent music seemed to be straddling two lines — moodier, more texture-driven groups like Bauhaus and Echo & the Bunnymen staked their claim on one side while all-out assault-rockers like Hüsker Dü and Dinosaur Jr. shouted from the other. Since the older days of post-punk, it’s almost like whenever independent rock music seems to run out of ideas, the response is to either turn inward and minimalist or to crank up the volume.

Wild Flag


Count the newly formed Wild Flag as being firmly in the latter camp; composed of former Sleater-Kinney grrrls Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss, Helium’s Mary Timony and The Minders’ Rebecca Cole, the supergroup wants to make it its mission to kick out the jams.

The leading single, penned by Brownstein, is nothing if not a call to arms for the laptop set to shut off the loops and samplers and to pick up a guitar. You can almost picture Brownstein dishing out the rock kicks without a hint of irony when she growls, “Hey, hey / Can you feel it?” at the track’s opening like a latter-day (and probably much cooler) Joan Jett. Rocking out for it’s own sake — on record, anyway — might seem more disingenuous for a group with a lesser pedigree; instead, Brownstein and co.’s reaffirming urge to throw punches is nothing if not refreshing. Brownstein sums up the group’s mantra — and appeal — in a single line in the track’s rah-rah chorus: “We’ve got an ear / An ear for what’s romance.”

It’s a rallying cry for those whose ears have been craned toward unabashed, get-roughed-up rock long before S-K’s glory days and a wake-up call for those who might have fallen deaf since.

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