[MUSIC REVIEW] No Cities to Love by Sleater-Kinney

SLEATER-KINNEY
No Cities to Love
Sub Pop Records
January 2015

After a ten-year hiatus, this month Sleater-Kinney is releasing their eighth album, No Cities to Love, on Sub Pop Records. When news of the new album broke last fall, Sleater-Kinney fans across the world rejoiced. Over the past two decades, the band has amassed a dedicated following. Fans’ love of Sleater-Kinney is fervent and contagious.

When Sleater-Kinney started playing the early 1990s, for many of us the band’s sound was something we’ve never heard before. Corin Tucker’s powerful wailing voice, Carrie Brownstein’s intricate wailing guitar riffs, Janet Weiss’s precisely wailing drum beats—the way they all wailed together was the sound of a genre we couldn’t quite define, the sound of a generation that didn’t want to be defined. We didn’t quite fit in completely with one thing or another, and neither did Sleater-Kinney. They carved their own sound and to the punks, the geeks, the loners, the creative kids, the feminists, the queers, and the confused, it shaped who we became. Just as Brownstein sings in “A New Wave” on No Cities to Love, Sleater-Kinney created “a new kind of obscurity.”

During their hiatus, each member of Sleater-Kinney continued to experiment creatively and work on the things they love. We got to watch Carrie, Corin and Janet grow with us. Carrie became an actor, Corin helmed a new band and raised two children, Janet drummed all over the place in various bands. All of these new experiences gave Sleater-Kinney a new story to tell. There’s something about this Corin-Carrie-Janet trifecta that creates a powerful energy. It awakens something inside us, reminding listeners that we can do the things we want to do.

The new album opens explosively with “Price Tag,” which sets the tone for the rest of the album. The 10 songs on No Cities to Love are jam-packed with a more mature version of Sleater-Kinney’s signature sound: they’re fun and catchy with a cleaner, more organized kind of chaos. Their voices sound stronger than ever. The guitars seamlessly dance and chase each melody. Brownstein’s guitar riffs sound almost like St. Vincent. The drums bang out a solid and steady stride of confidence. Sleater-Kinney took something that worked for them a decade ago and refined it to still sound relevant.

In the title track “No Cities to Love,” Brownstein laments “I’ve grown afraid of everything that I love,” reminding us that the things we love aren’t always the easiest to face. In the past, Brownstein has been open in interviews about her struggles with anxiety, stating that the band’s final tour promoting The Woods was more of a tour of hospital emergency rooms. The fact that Brownstein is ready to take another tour head on speaks volumes of their growth together. Is that anxiety still present or has all the experience Carrie has under her belt given her a renewed sense of confidence? Either way, it is humbling and inspiring to know that even our heroes have fears.

Before you know it, the album is over. The whole 10-song album is just over 30 minutes long and closes with “Fade,” a slower moving song that picks up midway with elements of voice distortions and ends with a trailing guitar.

So what does this new album mean? In one way, No Cities to Love is an album to bridge the gap between generations. Its a chance for today’s young punks to know what its like to be excited about a Sleater-Kinney release and be able to apply the songs and the lyrics to life as it’s happening. Also, the album is a continuation of all the things we knew all along. Its a reminder to those of us who have been long time Sleater-Kinney fans that our creative lives don’t end, they transition into various projects with many different collaborators along the way. You can always go back to the projects you started in the past. You can take breaks from things to seek out other pursuits to develop your skills, find other influences, and refine your voice.

This review was originally published in Bitch Magazine (January 2015)

WERK IT: How to be a Grown Ass Podcaster

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WNYC held it’s very first women’s podcast festival called “Werk It: How to be a Grown Ass Podcaster” on June 4-5, 2015. I spoke on a panel on how independent podcasters got their start. You can watch the full conversation in the video below:

 

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Interview with Persephone Magazine

I was interviewed by Persephone Magazine.

“Persephone Magazine is a daily blog focused on topics of interest for modern, intelligent, clever women. We strive to give a voice to more women from a variety of backgrounds and with diverse interests. We feature articles not only from our talented staff of writers but from our incredible readership, as well; readers who give voice to their opinions and viewpoints out of a desire to educate, entertain, or engage with our community. We encourage thoughtful discussion and respectful debate. We are an environment that welcomes all perspectives that come from a place of respect and consideration for fellow community members.”

Read the interview

Creative funding: finding, choosing, billing, and getting paid.

 
On Thursday, July 18th 2013, I was a guest on Heritage Radio’s After the Jump program which is hosted by Design*Sponge founder Grace Bonney. On the show we talked about being paid what you’re worth, ways to fund creative projects, the role gender plays when it comes to doing work for free and overall the struggle of making a living as a content producer. I really enjoy talking about these topics with Grace because she has been running Design*Sponge for about 10 years and has seen the blogging industry go through various phases.

You can listen to the interview on iTunes or stream it on Heritage Radio. Please feel free to chime in on the conversation by leaving a comment over at Design*Sponge.

Also, I was super stoked that 99u (one of my favorite blogs) tweeted about the interview!

Feminist Playing Cards included in “Let’s Start a Pussy Riot” Book / NYC Book Launch

My Feminist Playing Card project is featured in a new book that just came out recently titled “Let’s Start a Pussy Riot” (Rough Trade Books). The book was created in collaboration with Pussy Riot and links together the events leading up to and after the group’s arrest and the themes that these courageous women fight for – feminism, LGBTQ rights, freedom of speech and the environment.

The initial book launch took place at Yoko Ono’s Meltdown Festival this year in London. The NYC launch will take place on Sunday, July 14th 2013 from 7-9pm at Bluestockings (172 Allen St, NYC). I was asked to be on a panel discussion about art as activism at the event with editor Jade French, Kembra Pfhaler, and Anne Sherwood Pundyk. There will also be a performance from Jeffrey Lewis and a poetry reading by Vivien Goldman.

RSVP & invite your friends on Facebook.

The book is SUPER thick. You can get an idea by the photo above which includes an iPhone next to it so you can see how much thicker the book is.

The page that the Feminist Playing Cards are featured on folds out into a spread.

Featured in Go Magazine’s “100 Women We Love”

I’m quite honored to be featured in Go Magazine’s “100 Women We Love” feature in their latest Pride Issue. I’m listed alongside some pretty badass babes like Scream Club, Hannah Hart, Liz Feldman, and a whole bunch of other amazing women! You can read the blurb about me here or pick up a copy near you!

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Also, shout out to my good buddy Channing Duke who took the photo of me that’s featured in the article. Channing also started Pink Sheep Film Festival with me and continues to do a kickass job organizing it. The Pink Sheep Film Festival held its 3rd annual Pride event last Friday and I’m so proud of all the hard work Channing has done to pull it all together!

Finding Motivation

I’ve invited people to ask me questions about my projects, process and whatever else they are curious about on my tumblr & twitter. I’ll be answering some of those questions here on my blog. Here’s the first one:

Where does your motivation come from? When you get a good idea are you ever worried someone else is already doing it? How do you keep going?

Sometimes, honestly, its hard to get motivated. Especially when there are lots of ‘life factors’ to deal with on a daily basis (working/finding jobs, wondering when I’ll do my laundry again, actually doing my laundry, trying to stay healthy, etc). I talked about this a bit in an interview with the Vessel Collective earlier this year. I try to prioritize the things that matter most to me and then make sure that the things that I’m doing reflect progress on my priorities. For instance, one of my priorities right now is to figure out how to sustain myself financially with my personal projects. I want to be able to work for myself and not work a 9-5 job. I want to work on projects that I care about and excite me. Anytime I’m not doing things that reinforce that, I’m cheating myself of what I want which makes the process take longer. I’m not saying that I spend all of my time working towards these goals, because I’m human and there are lots of days where I don’t make any progress at all which is where the next source of motivation kicks in: Guilt. When I’m not working towards my goals, I feel incredibly guilty. Maybe that’s because I was raised catholic. I continuously need to have self-motivating talks in my head. Or I write in my journal and reflect to remind myself of whats important to me. I also read A LOT of self-development and motivational/entrepreneurship books. Reading books like that energize me to stop wasting time and get to work!

Reading over that, it seems like I place a high priority on “work” but by “work” that means a lot of things. For example, I “work” on my health, so reminding myself to go to the Kickboxing gym and making sure I eat healthy meals and take my vitamins, etc are all included in that.

Sometimes its as simple as hearing an upbeat song to get me motivated. Or taking a power shower.

This may seem counter-productive, but I also dream a lot. I’m a visual person, so visualizing the possible outcomes of things helps to motivate me as well. Like if I work on a certain project and its successful then I can live the life I want to live. BUT I do have to make sure that I don’t spend all of my time dreaming. Otherwise, none of those dreams will come true.

To answer the part about being worried about someone else already doing an idea: Sometimes I get a ‘genius’ idea and get scared to type it into google to search if anyone is doing it. Not so much because of fear that someone else is doing it, but fear that no one is doing it and by typing it into google, google will know my idea! (Does that even make sense??!) But yeah, I will usually do some research to see whats out there that’s similar. If it turns out other people are doing it, I will try to figure out how I can make it different from what others are doing. I ask myself questions like “why do I want to do this? What makes it important to me? From my background and experiences, how can I put myself into it in a way that’s different from others? How can I make it relatable in a way that people will associate this idea/thing with my idea/project?” And then if I feel really strongly about the idea, I’ll pursue it. I’ll put my blinders on and not worry about how or what the ‘competition’ is doing. Sometimes its even possible to join forces with others who are doing the same thing. I think of it like this: We all had this idea and feel strongly enough to put it out into the world that we are working together to put this idea out there to reach as many people as possible because we believe in this idea so much. That also depends on what that idea/project is too I guess.

Some things just pull at you no matter how many people are doing it. There are definitely other people out there who take photos of broken umbrellas. When I started doing it, I knew that it wasn’t unique. I have a friend in San Francisco who takes photos of abandoned mattresses and the lovely chanteuse Mirah takes photos of yesterday’s bananas. But as much as I try to resist taking a photo of an umbrella when I see one, I just can’t. Something inside me screams “CAPTURE THAT UMBRELLA”. There have been times when I’ve walked past umbrellas saying “I don’t want to take anymore photos of umbrellas!” But then a few blocks later I just can’t get it out of my mind and I find myself back tracking to the umbrella. This happened recently and I ended up taking the umbrella home with me. It’s under the couch. I can’t wait for my roommates to find it and be like WTF?? haha

I guess maybe art is just an obsessive compulsion. I just can’t stop creating. I can’t stop appreciating the beauty in all the things I see. That in itself motivates me. It distracts me from feeling empty. It fulfills me in a way that makes me happy. And now that I think of it, that’s my number one priority: being happy.

 

All my projects in one place.

This website is pretty new. I was tired of having all of the different things that I do in so many different places. The goal of this site is to showcase all of the projects and work that I do, while allowing me to share my own personal experiences and processes. So this website will be updated on a continuous basis as my projects grow. Right now, I am mostly in the phase of putting all of my projects into my Portfolio. I will continue to add to those as I hit milestones in those projects, but I will also be tracking progress, learnings and experiences via my blog.

Here’s a breakdown of what’s been added around here so far:

Projects added to my portfolio: 

 

I also learned a few things about the weather; that moving to the North doesn’t exempt you from hurricanes and that every time something good happens to Obama it snows.