The Corin Tucker Band 1,000 Years(Kill Rock Stars) Buy it from Insound
It's an odd feeling to have lived long enough to feel history's recursion. Theoretically, we know that trends pick up after twenty years or so, that the bell-bottoms in middle school were an absurd 70's throwback for trying-too-hard tweens. But it's different to have lived through the first college-rock sea change and now be slapped in the face with the inevitable nostalgia. Maybe it's confirmation bias or my own unshakable quarter-life crisis mode, but 2010 seems to be pining for the glory days harder than the "aughts" (we're really calling them that, right?) ever did. Last week at the Pavement show in Philadelphia, I felt simultaneously too young and too old. Big concerts make you feel fourteen, but then there are actual fourteen-year-olds whining about the same thing you are -- "Why didn't they play Summer Babe?" Malkmus didn't help. After every song he quipped something along the lines of "those were good times," or "I just had a Trocadero flashback." I didn't have the privilege of seeing The Pixies' second reunion show the week before, but it couldn't have been so different. Forced to do the time warp again.
And into this gaping college-rock shaped nostalgia-hole in our hearts steps The Corin Tucker Band, ready to take its place in the pantheon of "remember the good ol' days?" reunion bands. The fact that the material is all new somehow paradoxically strengthens the sentimentality. Where Sleater-Kinney went out with an uncharacteristic bang -- an overproduced, feedback- and psychedelia-heavy opus that culminated a glorious career -- Corin Tucker picks up in a refreshingly gritty and familiar way. The first and title track, 1,000 Years, is so blatant in this regard that it could easily fall into camp territory. "I'm alive after 1,000 years", Tucker breathes, and when the first drumbeat hits, it's legitimately exciting. She's no phoenix rising from the ashes, but she's back.
The album manages to sound just far away enough from Sleater-Kinney to feel fresh. It's another three-piece outfit, but here we hear strings, piano, sweet and ethereal backing vocals. But again, it's the familiarity that makes it so instantly good, so comforting. There are bits of Letters to Cleo, maybe Electrelane. When Tucker sings over a piano accompaniment, we wonder why nobody thought of this combination before.
Unsurprisingly, the stand-out tracks are those where Tucker's signature power-vibrato take control. Doubt is the first single for a reason. Tucker shrieks over some of the most raw guitar riffs since Dig Me Out. Yes, this is the most S-K-esque song, but weren't you desperate for it? The track breaks abruptly into ocean waves, a momentary disappointment, before building back up, from synth-organ to bass to drums to guitars to full-on rock'n'roll. It's a real goosebumps moment.
Tucker called this a "middle-aged mom" album. Clearly this has more to do with her own new life -- wife and mother instead of riot girl rocker -- but I think that, for the rest of us who can't empathize with that particular form of growing up, we still know what she's on about. Ultimately, 1,000 Years is an uplifting album, despite some of the painful imagery. Sometimes wallowing in the past isn't such a bad thing, especially when, like it did for Corin Tucker, it moves you forward.30 September, 2010 - 20:41 — Gabbie Nirenburg