Sleater-Kinney - Call the Doctor (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Call the Doctor (1996)


Sleater-Kinney has often been called the lady version of Fugazi. Setting aside the gender politics that statement brings up and the fact that they didn't have any dub influences, I tend to agree, if only for one reason: Like Fugazi, Sleater-Kinney are incorruptible. They never needed mainstream support, toured like crazy, kept dropping one hot shit album after another to the point that we took it for granted, broke up before they got stale but still left behind a generous, rocking discography. Sleater-Kinney equals Batman.

Call the Doctor was an early success for the band, and while what they did later would surpass this effort, it remains a stirring collection of '90s punk/indie rock. The band could have broken up then and there after drummer Lora Macfarlane left and still had a legacy.

If nothing else, check out "I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone." Everybody needs to love the Ramones, and this tune about wanting to be adored by rock ‘n' roll fans is A) kinda true and B) thoroughly rocking. Call the Doctor is loaded with alt hits, but "I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone" is the one with name recognition.

There are certain elements that define Sleater-Kinney. Intertwining guitar assaults, big drums, bigger voices. The band got increasingly indebted to classic rock, culminating in swansong The Woods, but at the time of Doctor, singers Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker were in their early 20s. They could play as all heck, but compared to where they went musically, Doctor saw them still learning how to play, so to speak. So all those big, epic elements that defined the band are still very raw, still forming. It makes Doctor a searing affair, because there's no filter. Tucker's pipes aren't quite where they are now, but there's still something spine-tingling about hearing go after these big, open-hearted assaults like on "I'm Not Waiting" or "Call the Doctor."

Call the Doctor is an ideal starting point for new SK fans. It's not the best Sleater-Kinney album, but it's the stronger of the two pre-Janet Weiss albums. It showcases the band in a more primal setting, and if you want to see the fruits of riot grrrl's labor, this is just as good an introduction as anything Bikini Kill ever did.