The Corin Tucker Band 1,000 Years (Kill Rock Stars)
A couple of guitars and drums, three chords and a coupla hundred words: that's rock'n'roll. The formula worked as well for the Beatles 45 years ago as it did for Sleater-Kinney 15 years ago. SK, a three-woman outfit out of the US Pacific Northwest, put out seven albums between 1995 and its disbanding in 2006, the band's co-founder, Corin Tucker, leaving to concentrate on raising her two children. Now she's back with a new band and a new sound. Though it still displays the visceral electric guitar work associated with Sleater-Kinney, added to the mix are some acoustic guitar, violin and cello, piano and organ (and cowbells). Supporting this fuller, more mature sound is the propulsive drumming of Sara Lund. All of it takes a back seat, however, to the truest instrument on the album: Tucker's voice. At times sweet and expressive (It's Always Summer, Miles Away), at others explosively riot grrrlish (Pulling Pieces, Thrift Store Coasts), at all times, powerful. This is an album of pop hooks, rock mayhem and the occasional paraphrase (Riley has hints of So You Wanna Be a Rock'n'Roll Star), exploring marriage and parenthood in solid, image-based lyrics that include surely the best expression of the hopeful futility of the working-class hero: "Our hands are surely tied; our hands are open wide".
Also out this week
Dexy's Midnight Runners Searching for the Young Soul Rebels (EMI)
Remastered and reissued with 21 extra tracks in honour of its 30th anniversary, Dexy's Midnight Runners' incendiary debut, from the days before they embraced dungarees and fiddles to produce their unintentional legacy, Come on Eileen, is arguably one of the greatest debut albums ever released. Yet, like the band itself, it's a British classic that remains curiously overlooked. From the blazing opening bars of opener Burn It Down, the brass-driven soul is the sound of a bunch of musical misfits, recruited by frontman Kevin Rowland, determined to fulfil their passionate testimony to Stax, Motown and Northern Soul released at a time when punk still ruled. Three decades on, the results are equally thrilling.