Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My New Fav'rit Rekkid.

Today was a big big new release day, especially for women in independent music. It saw the seemingly eternally awaited CD release of post-punk legends the Raincoats' second album Odyshape; Gravity the Seducer, the latest solid effort from electro-pop faves Ladytron; and Strange Mercy, the much anticipated and highly lauded third rekkid from art-pop specialists and indie press darlings St. Vincent. All of these are fine discs indeed, and St Vincent will likely end up fairly high on my year-end "best of..." list, but as far as I am concerned the day belongs to the self-titled debut from post-riot-grrrl super group Wild Flag. It may be the best rock album of the year and it is my new fav'rit rekkid.

Sometimes supergroups work, other times they can be pretty dismal. When I first heard about Wild Flag - a confluence of four women from several of my favorite bands of the nineties and oughts - I began to seriously get my hopes up that this could be one of the truly special supergroups ever assembled. Having  finally heard Wild Flag's debut in its entirety, I am delighted to say that they have met and exceeded those hopes.

For those who haven't heard, Wild Flag is Carrie Brownstein (Sleater-Kinney) on guitar and vocals, Mary Timony (Helium, M. Timony Band) on guitar and vocals, Rebecca Cole (the Minders) on keyboards and backing vocals, and Janet Weiss (Sleater-Kinney, Quasi, Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks) on drums and backing vocals. Each of these women is a force of nature in her own right, brought together they form less of a collaboration and more of a conflagration. While the sound is frequently similar to Sleater-Kinney with hints of Helium, this whole is greater than the sum of its parts. With its raw energy, loose attitude, and dueling guitars, the rekkid brings to mind a modern day combination of the Patti Smith Group in its heyday and Television. In fact, the call and response guitar lines and noodling six-string battles between Brownstein and Timony are the next best thing to Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd. There are huge rock hooks and vocal harmonies throughout, especially on singles "Romance"and "Glass Tambourine"; Brownstein whips out her very best Ric Ocasek "uh-oh uh-oh" on "Endless Talk"; meanwhile "Racehorse", the rekkid's penultimate track, is six and a half minutes of raw rock and roll energy, with Brownstein doing her level best to channel Patti Smith circa 1976 before the song bursts into a full on sonic freakout of wailing guitars and keys, punctuated by the positively thunderous drumming of Janet Weiss. It's big. It's loud. It'll wake you up, and it'll scare the hell out of the cat. Wild Flag, out today on the always fabulous Merge Records. You know you want it.

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