the baggy trousered misanthropist

missives issued from the lair

Not, as you may suspect, an homage to knitwear, but a storming romp through the matter of suicide from the Golden Gate Bridge. Which to date, has not been used in any San Francisco tourist literature.

Ok, so for many of you I’m guessing this is the first chance you’ve had to hear any Sleater-Kinney. And for those of you who find it raucous, or even unlistenable due to it’s idiosyncratic style, this is actually one of their more accessible tracks. Get ‘Call The Doctor‘, listen to it a few times, then tell me this is ‘too challenging’. I won’t listen, obviously, but at least you’ll have made the effort.

Personal predilections aside, the inspiration for this particular number, which featured on the band’s 2005 album ‘The Woods‘, came from an article of the same name that appeared in the ‘New Yorker’ in 2003. Even with the briefest of glances through Tad Friend’s prose, one can immediately see that for this track, Sleater-Kinney drew not only from the stories of the many people who have chosen to end their lives by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge, but the evocative prose describing them. And not just lyrically.

The nagging opening bars and harmonic vocals imitate the sensations of throbbing fear that Friend describes the jumpers experiencing, particularly Kevin Hines, who survived an attempt in September 2000. Janet Weiss’ Dave Grohl-esque drum hammering emulates the thudding of the heart as one crosses the boundary into No-Man’s Land – otherwise known as ‘The Chord’.

And Corin Tucker’s vocal, moments later? Well, that would probably be the second young Kevin let go and simultaneously realised he’d made one mofo of a mistake. Seriously.

Ok, I realise it’s just a pop song and getting all philosophical about it is pointless in the extreme. What can I say? I used to read album liner notes when I was little. But seriously, this track is a fantastic introduction to a band that anyone with a modicum of music taste (and I’m prepared to concede, patience) would love. Embrace the majesty of Carrie Brownstein on guitar (goose stepping axe god on the left), Corin Tucker’s soaring and at times, terrifying vocals and Janet Weiss apparent grievances against all things drum-skin. Go punk, if just for a few hours in your living room.

Sleater-Kinney are on ‘indefinite hiatus’ at the moment. But we pray to St Hubbins for a revival. And you, as a discerning connoisseur of wonderful tuneage, should too.

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