Compact Review: Sleater-Kinney’s No Cities to Love


Sleater-Kinney – No Cities to Love
Rating: 89/100
Released: January 20, 2015

I’ve never had a favorite drummer. I didn’t even realize it until I got four hours deep into a road trip fueled music conversation with a close buddy as we drove across the desert toward Phoenix. As we went through our Top 5 of Everything Imaginable (singers, guitarists, Pixar movies, concerts, etc.) I was stumped when forced to choose a favorite drummer. I rattled off some unsurprising candidates: Neil Pert, Phil Collins, Dave Grohl, John Bonham and a few others but nothing jumped out at me as the clear favorite. Maybe I spent my whole life woefully overlooking percussion. Maybe the biggest names in drumming really are the best. Maybe I was a big idiot and totally forget someone.

At the time of our conversation, drummer Janet Weiss and Sleater-Kinney were nearly a decade into a seemingly permanent hiatus. I had forgotten about their existence entirely but with their unexpected comeback album No Cities to Love, I had a revelation: Janet Weiss is my long lost favorite drummer. I’ve spent a lot of time with Sleater-Kinney over the past few months and Weiss is out of her damn mind. Her drumming is raw and powerful but impossibly precise and nuanced. It gives a surge life to songs that already had more than enough. She is the best.

No Cities to Love is a wonderfully noisy rock record and a glorious comeback from one of the great alt punk bands of the 1990s/2000s. I started getting into the band right around the release of their 2005 album The Woods (this was supposed to be their final album). I saw them play in Chicago at Lollapalooza just days before they played their final show as Sleater-Kinney. The world turned, Bad Ass Guitarist Carrie Brownstein became Comedic Actress Carrie Brownstein, and Sleater-Kinney was more or less forgotten.

Then out of nowhere No Cities to Love arrived and promptly melted my face. No Cities to Love is expert level loud. The craftsmanship and pop sensibilities are fine tuned despite the shredding guitar riffs and howling vocals. On their 8th studio LP, Sleater-Kinney balance pure rock mayhem and melodic accessibility and their music isn’t just loud, its heavy. There is real weight to their song craft. Amidst the riffs and thunderous percussion, their lyrics tackle big ideas like the price of fame and their place as women in a male dominated industry.

No Cities to Love is loud and charming and meaningful and it’s the first great record of 2015.

Top Tracks: “No Cities to Love”, “Surface Envy”, “Hey Darling”


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