Elevate Difference

Reviews of Kill Rock Stars

1,000 Years

Singer, songwriter, and guitarist Corin Tucker has been actively involved in music since the early 1990s when, as a teenager, she launched the riot grrrl band Heavens to Betsy. Around the same time, Carrie Brownstein was heading up queercore outfit Excuse 17. Eventually the two joined forces to form Sleater-Kinney in 1994.

1,000 Years

It is kind of strange listening to Corin Tucker with a bass player, and without the backing of Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss in riot grrrl band Sleater-Kinney. Admittedly, at first I found myself missing Brownstein’s guitar chops, and the rhythmic awesomeness of Weiss. This isn’t to say that Tucker is a guitar slouch, by any means, just that Brownstein is one of the best living guitarists out there, and Weiss delivers an amazing syncopated punch that other drummers just can’t match.

Marnie Stern

The buzzword on Marnie Stern's self-titled third album seems to be "introspective." Frankly, this descriptor hardly seems indicative of a sea change if we've been paying attention to her lyrics. Sure, In Advance of the Broken Arm and her breakthrough sophomore effort, _[This Is It And I Am It and You Are It and So Is That and

Roman Candle

Some might think this is another round of Elliott Smith’s posthumous work but it’s actually his first album. Kill Rock Stars has re-released and remastered Roman Candle, which was originally released in 1994 on the Cavity Search label. It’s self-recorded and Smith played all the instruments. The album is short, only thirty minutes, but in these eight songs you can see how Smith’s great career started.

Live Recordings, TV-clips, & Roadmovie

There is no doubting the strong influence the (mostly) female Swiss band Kleenex (later renamed Liliput) had on current feminist post-punk rock movements like Riot Grrrl.

From A Basement On The Hill

My indie cred—if you want to call it that—is this: I was at one of Elliott Smith’s last shows. At the Northwestern University A&O Ball in 2002, Smith attempted to open for Wilco, fumbling with his guitar, breaking a string, complaining that his hand fell asleep, and never really finishing a song before trudging off stage an hour later.

American Gong

Did adding Joanna Bolme on bass somehow ruin the “purity” of the Quasi sound? I would suggest not. Although it would be impossible to argue that their music was thin before, Bolme’s bass adds a perfect oomph without taking away from the chemistry of the duo that already existed.

Know Better Learn Faster

“Messy” and “complicated” could very well be the two best words for defining romantic love. As suggested by the title of Thao with The Get Down Stay Down’s latest record, Know Better Learn Faster, the brokenhearted masses could easily avoid painful relationships if they were just plain smarter and quicker learners.

Live Session EP

You either have that friend, or are that friend: the friend who tells people about obscure artists that seem weird or off-putting, but always become familiar with time. These bands usually rise from unknown to an only quasi-obscure status within about six months of your introduction, making your friend appear to have some magical intuition or inside information. For me, that friend is Israel. We were in Israel’s green Subaru in Lincoln, Nebraska when I first heard the child-like Japanese/English ramblings of a mystery band, and I asked who it was.

This Is It and I Am It and You Are It and So Is That and He Is It and She Is It and It Is It and That Is That

Marnie Stern was brought to my attention by one of my favorite shredders, Marissa Paternoster of Screaming Females. This could not be more appropriate as Marnie Stern is also a shredder. I could not help but be intrigued by this album. The cover art (by Bella Foster) grabbed me immediately with its watercolor and pencil styling of dreamy forest imagery recalling Henry Darger.

Offend Maggie

Some people find Deerhoof unlistenable, with sometimes manic, screeching vocals over strange instrumentation. Some critics think they're twee, and some think they’re the best of noise rock. Most cannot slap a genre label on this expectation-bending band. There is occasional yelling and human-made sound effects, "Beep beep!" You have no idea where the songs will go, or when they will end.

New Moon

In my Alabama high school, our English teacher had us select writers to do a report on. She carefully went down the list announcing a name with a short one-line bio to quickly introduce the writer to the class. My hand shot up to claim Sylvia Plath when I learned she committed suicide in her thirties; I was morbidly intrigued. In preparation for that school report I remember sitting in the library with headphones on listening to a BBC recording Plath made of her poem "Lady Lazarus." I can still hear the tone in her voice when she announces: "I have done it again.

Moments in Movement

Formerly Romy Hoffman, Australian rapper Macromantics has released a debut hip-hop album that will keep her listeners guessing from track to track. After discovering hip-hop on a 1995 American tour with her pop punk band Noise Addict, Miss Macro spent the next few years fine-tuning her solid rhymes and traditional beats. It’s when she veers from the traditional path, however, that the album is at its best.

In Advance of the Broken Arm

Who wouldn't be interested in listening to a female musician who is described as playing guitar better than “you, or me or probably ninety-nine percent of the people who have ever looked at a guitar?" From the Upper East Side of Manhattan, Marnie Stern was signed to Kill Rock Stars after sending in a demo tape.


Mika Miko’s C.Y.S.L.A.B.F. is a great example of what modern punk should be. It’s an energizing, loud amalgamation of sounds that many parents would apply the term “noise” to. Whether you’re a frazzled urbanite 20-something or a teen rocking in your parent’s garage the entire album does well in rhythmically pleasing your inner (or outer) rebel. The production quality left something to be desired.

Standing in the Way of Control

The Gossip’s new album, Standing in the Way of Control, is more than interesting and different in itself. Partly, it doesn’t even sound like the Gossip. Bluesy punk of previous albums has been replaced with a garage, New York punk sound. However, this is actually done very nicely, and the audience is not lost during the change.