Song of the Week: “Steep Air” by Sleater-Kinney

by Douglas Cowie on 8 November 2013

Each Friday I pick a song–new, old, borrowed, blue–that’s been on my mind and in my ears, and write a short post about it.

This is “Steep Air” by Sleater-Kinney:

Sleater-Kinney — “Steep Air”

I fell in love with Sleater-Kinney the first time I heard them in my friend Jason’s car in about 1996. They were loud! They were chaotic! They were cynical! They were angry! They were clever! They were fun! I wanted to be their Joey Ramone right then and there. The best thing about Sleater-Kinney is that with each album, they got even better, and their songs got more complex; and as they got better, and their songs got more complex, they stayed loud, chaotic, cynical, angry, clever and fun. “Steep Air” comes from their final album, The Woods, which was released in 2005. Listen to that gentle opening, spare and relatively simple.  Listen as it subtly but surely grows more complex and more layered, until it becomes a full-blown blues-punk swagger before moving symmetrically back to where the song began. If you listen to the album, “Steep Air” dissipates and the eleven-minute rockstorm “Let’s Call It Love” pulses in. That song gives way to the final track on the album, “Night Light,” which provides a further kind of symmetry, subtly but surely bringing the music back down towards a gentle position similar to the one that opened “Steep Air.”

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