On Dig Me Out (Kill Rock Stars), Sleater-Kinney's third and best album, the Olympia-and-Portland-based trio has moved beyond the inchoate rage that characterized the oft-maligned subculture that first launched Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker on their musical path. That's not to dismiss the riot grrrls: while the permanent addition of drummer Janet Weiss is obviously integral to the stunning musical maturation that's occurred since last year's Call the Doctor, there's a less tangible confidence and sense of mission embedded in the sounds of the new album that are no doubt due to the band's roots in that community. But Sleater-Kinney has learned to balance extremes, and the effect is to make the message sharper. Tucker's piercing, intense wail is countered by Brownstein's cool interjections; one guitar crafts sharp melodic lines while the other spits out a furious bass-heavy roar. These women celebrate rock's adrenaline rush while sneering at the mechanisms that have fought to keep it out of their reach. Sleater-Kinney's core audience remains teenage girls--many of whom will unfortunately be left standing outside the 21-and-over Lounge Ax--but the band's terrific songwriting and gutsy attack have also begun to attract a broader bunch of people to the best punk-rock record I've heard in a couple of years. Thursday, May 8, 9 PM, Lounge Ax, 2438 N. Lincoln; 773-525-6620. PETER MARGASAK
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo of Sleater-Kinney by John Clark.