Sep 12, 2011 #37 – St. Vincent
When I was 16, Sleater-Kinney’s Dig Me Out forever changed the course of my music-listening life. It was summertime, it was my first taste of indie rock and it didn’t leave my Discman for two months. I bring this up because Wild Flag hits me with that same magical gut-punch: this album has the ability to make die-hards out of teenagers and adults (all over again).
With all due respect to Mary Timony (Helium) and Rebecca Cole (The Minders), Wild Flag sounds, for all intents and purposes, like a new Sleater-Kinney album. This is not to downplay Timony and Cole’s contributions or abilities, but when you’re playing next to musicians as iconic and powerful as former Sleater-Kinney members Janet Weiss and Carrie Brownstein, you’re bound to be a little overwhelmed. That said, this band features four formidable musicians and their interplay already feels telepathic. Timony and Brownstein’s guitar duels approach the glory of Television, Cole’s organ work adds much appreciated color/texture to the proceedings (especially on the epic “Racehorse”). And Janet Weiss? Is there anyone with a pulse who doesn’t believe she’s one of the greatest living drummers?
All of this is presented right up front on opening track “Romance,” a brilliant bit of knotty psych punk that showcases how beautifully Timony’s and Brownstein’s guitars tangle and tussle. “Glass Tambourine” harkens back to Sleater-Kinney’s devastating swan song, The Woods, with an extended psych workout worthy of Electric
Ladyland. The first half seems innocent enough with the band repeatedly harmonizing the line “I thought the end of time was here/But now I can hear” over bouncy chords, but it quickly mutates into a wooly, heaving jam.
Wild Flag is vibrant, essential music on par with anything else these four women have done before. They’ve grown considerably as musicians and songwriters, and best of all, they still sound as passionate and full of ideas as they did 10-15 years ago. (www.facebook.com/wildflag)
Author rating: 8/10
Average reader rating: 9/10