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The Corin Tucker Band - 1,000 Years

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Artist: The Corin Tucker Band

Album: 1,000 Years

Label: Kill Rock Stars

Review date: Oct. 5, 2010

Almost two weeks ago, an announcement tore its way through the Internet, proclaiming a new, unheard band called Wild Flag, a supergroup starring Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss of Sleater-Kinney, Mary Timony (Helium, Autoclave, solo career) and the Minders’ Rebecca Cole. The news came with a modicum of fanfare from women who grew up in the 1990s, and in none of the sources I caught word from – message boards, Tweets, music blogs and excited Facebook posts – was there any mention about what the other third of Sleater-Kinney was doing.

Is there a bias against Corin Tucker, real or implied? Are people fearful of the 4 a.m. car alarm that was her vocal style in her previous effort? Did her gradual retreat away from the media come with any additional baggage? Moreover, will fans of Sleater-Kinney latch on to her solo career?

Here’s hoping. 1,000 Years, Tucker’s solo debut (backed by arranger and multi-instrumentalist Seth Lorinczi, formerly of Circus Lupus, and drummer Sara Lund, late of Unwound), shows a remarkable amount of growth both as a songwriter and a performer from the loud guitar maelstrom that punctuated Sleater-Kinney some years back. Tucker hasn’t lost any of her squeezed-shut intensity or augered explosiveness, but she’s successfully expanded the palette of her previous works, and her band is versatile enough to reflect this — punk energy and house party rock stretched across a canvas wide enough to incorporate suppler songwriting, and the forethought of finding the right instrumentation to flesh them out.

The feat that’s accomplished throughout the album is no small matter. The singer-songwriter record that follows a career arc of louder/faster/now is often the place for the artist to turn tail on the past and push an agenda of messages that couldn’t be conveyed any earlier. The tradeoffs that take place across 1,000 Years don’t lose sight of past glories, though; string sections are augmented by handclaps, shrill fury is tempered with a clipped, sultry vocal exploration of the lower register, not unlike Chrissie Hynde back in ‘79. Tucker is working with songs that reach out to folk traditions of the ‘60s and ‘70s, but the style has been given a lean, white-knuckled makeover, and it’s rewarding to hear how well the sentiments can stand up to the volume and intensity of rock ‘n’ roll (“Doubt,” which announces the album’s center section, is as brash and fiery a rocker as you’ll find anywhere in this line of thought, with a powerful mid-song stall-out). The quieter moments — closing piano ballad “Miles Away,” missin’-you acoustic number “It’s Always Summer,” the recessionary tackle of “Thrift Store Coats” — possess the same qualities as the bashers: words of struggle and coping backed with defiance, a sensitivity that rarely gives way to weakness or sorrow, even if it’s lurking in the background.

The known quantity brings about a surprise, far more resonant and realistic than the promise or potential of names on a page.

By Doug Mosurock

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