“No Cities to Love”
The fact that we are now living in 2015 and there are still people in the world who don’t know about Sleater-Kinney makes me sad. Now, after a nearly eight-year break, the Olympia, Washington, trio is back from a new location (they live in Portland now) and have new material by which to make the world’s acquaintance. “No Cities to Love” is not a revamped sound for the band, but it is definitely different. All of the band’s great guitars and biting lyrics are here, intact and on full display. But a large degree of the pop levity seems to have been removed. Often, Sleater-Kinney ’15 sounds like a band that has its jaw set and is determined to be heard. I do not know if “No Cities…” reaches quite the same high as 2002’s magnificent “One Beat,” but it is clear that the time off has not hurt the band one bit, and “No Cities…” is a thunderous way to welcome in the new year. CV
“Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance”
Forget literally everything you know about Belle and Sebastian. Two decades after its debut, the Scotland six-piece has, with “Girls in Peacetime…,” practically hit the reset button. The new sound started with a revamped approach to recording, with producer Ben Allen pulling the band out of its comfort zone and forcing them into the booth early in the process, and making them think on the fly. The result is one of the most creative, daring, fully realized albums in Belle and Sebastian’s career. From the calypso-styled “Play For Today” to the disco-infused “Enter Sylvia Plath,” everything about “Girls in Peacetime…” is so unexpected, you are practically required to give the album a second go through, just to make sure it is real. You are off to a good start, 2015. CV
Chad Taylor is an award-winning news journalist and music writer from Des Moines who would love to take his talents abroad if the rent were not so much more affordable in Des Moines.