Sleater-Kinney
The Hot Rock


4.0
excellent

Review

by WarmInTheWinter USER (8 Reviews)
October 29th, 2013 | 40 replies


Release Date: 1999 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The Hot Rock sees Sleater-Kinney branching out into new directions with their music, setting the stage for later, and better albums, as well as acting as a breakout for Carrie Brownstein as a frontwoman.

Sleater-Kinney had a lot to live up to on The Hot Rock. 2 years earlier, the band had delivered Dig Me Out, their post-Riot Grrrl masterpiece on relationships in crisis. The album was beloved by critics, and rightfully so. The songwriting was top notch, the playing aggressive and in your face but the songs accessible enough and even somewhat catchy enough so as not to alienate the listener. Simply put, it's a stone cold classic.

Like many bands trying to follow a classic, Sleater-Kinney took the wise root and tried not to emulate it and most likely fail, but go for something a little different. The Hot Rock offers a much more melodic, gloomy and introspective sound than the band's previous albums. Does it work? For the most part.

One of the best aspects of The Hot Rock is the emergence of guitarist Carrie Brownstein as a significant vocal force, her softer voice being more well suited to these new songs. The End of You has some great vocals by Carrie during its choruses. The Size of Your Love is a genuinely beautiful ballad featuring some violin that Carrie really shines on. Also throw in the title track and Quarter to Three, two other slower songs that feature Carrie, and it proves to be her breakout album; she's the real star here. At the same time, having two confident vocalists allows Sleater-Kinney to open up on tracks like Burn Don't Freeze and One Song For You which feature separate vocal lines sung by Brownstein and lead vocalist Corin Tucker that overlap each other.

Instrumentation on a whole is more experimental as well. Along with the aforementioned violin, The Hot Rock also features a nicely placed Glockenspiel on Living In Exile among other things. The band calm down their playing, focusing more on melodic lines than power chords to suit the less aggressive songs. It's not their strongest work and I don't think as a band they really peaked until The Woods, their second masterpiece, where every instrumental break is monstrous and momentous, but The Hot Rock is a step in the right direction.

Don't Talk The Line is one track that even ventures into an Indie-ish sort of sound featuring some lo-fi guitar strumming and some more beautiful crooning from Carrie over a Frampton-ish, rotating speaker-infused lead guitar, setting up one of the many classic rock sounds that would begin to make their way into their work before peaking on The Woods. It's different for sure, but probably my favourite song on the album.

So is The Hot Rock all soft and mellow? Not at all. Tracks like Living In Exile, Start Together and End of You all offer some frantic, dissonant and noisy guitar freak outs and those same old love-em-or-hate-em Corin Tucker wails. The balance between these tracks and the new ones is really what makes The Hot Rock a great album though. On their own, the songs aren't quite as memorable as those on other Sleater-Kinney albums, 2 or 3 aside, but as a whole every song works nicely together, making The Hot Rock an album that's really better heard as a whole. So, all in all, it's not really Sleater-Kinney's best work, but it's a damn fine album either way and an important work in their oeuvre. It's a must for fans, but for outsiders I would point to either Dig Me Out or The Woods as your gateway Sleater-Kinney album.



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user ratings (115)
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Trebor.
Staff Reviewer
October 29th 2013


57032 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

sweet

LilLioness
October 29th 2013


2994 Comments


Good review, although I would avoid using the suffix "ish".

I have been meaning to check this band out.

sapient
March 17th 2015


2408 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Sleater-Kinney's song "Get Up" is so much better than the Korn song of the same name

sapient
March 17th 2015


2408 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Of the Sleater-Kinney I've listened to so far, this might be my favorite just because of how atmospheric it is on some tracks and how different is is from their other records. That said, all of the records I've heard by them have been great

sapient
May 3rd 2015


2408 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

How does this have only 54 votes seriously this band needs more love

PappyMason
May 3rd 2015


5702 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Band is amazing, agreed.

Supercoolguy64
May 3rd 2015


9145 Comments


need to check

chinesewhispers
May 3rd 2015


4767 Comments


Yeah this band is majorly underrepresented on here

PappyMason
May 20th 2015


5702 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

'Don't Talk Like' is such a great song, it's my favourite from this. That guitar tone is so good...

sapient
May 21st 2015


2408 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

One of my favorite tracks here too, some of Carrie's guitar fills are just plain eerie-sounding

PappyMason
June 16th 2015


5702 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Probably my favourite S-K album cover.

AmericanFlagAsh
June 19th 2015


9069 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Band fucking rules

hamid95
May 10th 2016


668 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This pretty good. Get Up is the best track here.

danielcardoso
May 10th 2016


11770 Comments


Only heard No Cities, which rules obviously. Need to spin Dig Me Out and this one soon.

hamid95
May 10th 2016


668 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Dig Me Out is beast.

danielcardoso
May 10th 2016


11770 Comments


Nice to hear bud, is it your favorite of theirs?

hamid95
May 10th 2016


668 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Still have to hear a few, All Hands, One Beat and The Woods. So far my favorite, though. Every song is a hit, sooner or later. Not an album for those who're less inclined to enjoy Tucker's vocals, but on that record I think it's an incredibly powerful thing.

danielcardoso
May 10th 2016


11770 Comments


Oh i don't mind her vocals at all so its cool bud, i usually have pretty good tolerance for vocalists of any genre tbh. You got my hopes up lol, should spin this tomorrow.

hamid95
May 10th 2016


668 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Have fun

danielcardoso
May 14th 2016


11770 Comments


Hamid bud, i've checked this and can confirm it rules. Plenty of gems here.



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