Wild Flag - Wild Flag (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Wild Flag

Wild Flag (2011)


While I still miss Sleater-Kinney's fiery punk passion, the former members' followup projects have made one thing clear: Everyone is a winner. Singer/guitarist Corin Tucker released a mighty fine solo album, 1,000 Years, in 2010. Drummer Janet Weiss has been playing drums in about 95 percent of the world's indie rock bands since S-K split, but this year sees her recorded reunion with S-K guitarist/vocalist Carrie Brownstein under the moniker Wild Flag. Mary Timony (ex-Helium) and Rebecca Cole (ex-the Minders) join on guitar/vox and keyboards/vox, respectively, and the result is surprisingly classic rock-leaning.

I don't mean that as an insult, either. Wild Flag ain't Aerosmith, but it does recall acts like the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Mott the Hoople, and Ziggy-era David Bowie. After their debut seven-inch, this shouldn't come as a surprise. Then and now, Wild Flag has embraced a retro-leaning sound. But they're not robbing graves–just writing really catchy tunes.

Album opener and single "Romance" is the "hit" of the bunch, a rumbling, tumbling ode to the power of music. The drums push the song through a series of propulsive movements. Despite a first-class chorus, the song's best moment is actually the pre-chorus after the second verse, as the group collectively shouts out "Hey, you've got me crawling / You've got me spinning / Shake shimmy shake / First you wreck me / Then resurrect me / It's too much," over a bout of handclaps.

Track two, "Something Came Over Me" is less immediate, but deceptively so. While it lacks the energy of "Romance", the hooks are just as strong, carrying a '60s girl group series of "la la la"s along the way. Brownstein and Timony are the lead songwriters in the band, and while they've created a cohesive album overall, there are still clear indicators who's better suited for what. Brownstein fronts rockers like "Boom" and "Future Crimes". She goes big. Timony is more subtle. Listen to a tune like "Glass Tambourine". It opens with a big Hendrix-style guitar ‘n' drums introduction before Timony starts switching between psychedelic interludes and plaintive vox. Brownstein brings attitude; Timony creates atmosphere.

Basically, Wild Flag achieves a nice balance. At 10 tracks, this record is fun without dragging, and Brownstein and Timony's sensibilities differ and yet complement each other in all the right ways. Sleater-Kinney comparisons are still going to follow the group (especially since Wild Flag kind of picks up where The Woods left off), but hopefully that just means more people will tune in for more good music. Like I said, everyone's a winner.