The Corin Tucker Band - 1,000 Years (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Corin Tucker Band

1,000 Years (2010)

Kill Rock Stars

Four years after the fact, I still have mixed feelings about Sleater-Kinney's hiatus. Obviously, I can't begrudge their decisions for splitting, and each member has kept busy. Drummer Janet Weiss has played with the Jicks, Bright Eyes and Quasi. Vocalist/guitarist Carrie Brownstein spread her talents around, blogging for NPR, doing comedy with Saturday Night Live's Fred Armisen as the group ThunderAnt and finally getting back into music with her new group, Wild Flag, which also features Weiss. And vocalist/guitarist Corin Tucker focused on motherhood. I miss Sleater-Kinney a lot and never got to see them live, but who am I to complain if Tucker's trying to be a good parent? Besides, with the release of 1,000 Years from the Corin Tucker Band, 100 percent of SK's members are musically active, and that's a good thing.

Tucker described her new album to Portland Mercury as a "middle-aged mom" record, which is true, but with a few qualifiers. This is not a stereotypical soccer mom album. 1,000 Years has certain flickers of the Sleater-Kinney sound. Pretty much anytime Tucker lets loose her trademark wail or a guitar solo, like on "Doubt," it's hard not to think of The Woods. But it also features a lot of ideas that SK didn't pursue. Acoustic guitar. Organ/piano. Lyrics about grownup responsibilities, like enduring unemployment and struggling as a parent and lover. It's a logical extension of SK's last few albums, but also calls up comparisons to Tori Amos, PJ Harvey and Natalie Merchant. It's also one of those fun, catchy records with depressing lyrics.

The title track opens the album brilliantly. It starts off ominously with just rumbling guitar, slowly introducing more instrumentation and Tucker's haunting voice. The song is about finally moving on after losing someone, thanks in part to music, which makes it all the more triumphant when drummer Sara Lund kicks in. "Half a World Away" is almost certainly about missing Tucker's husband, filmmaker Lance Bangs, and it's a sweet palate cleanser after "1,000 Years." The lyrics are more hopeful; the music is more rocking.

Gradually, 1,000 Years works itself into a fervor, exploding halfway through the organ-drenched "Handed Love" and carrying over to "Doubt," then it ebbs and flows all over again in the back half. Whether working out difficulties on the somber "Thrift Store Coats" or rocking the heck out on "Big Goodbye," the record wins. It's masterfully sequenced. It's the kind of record that sounds good turned way up or way down.

Of course, with 1,000 Years' release comes a new wave of rumors that Sleater-Kinney will reunite. Maybe they will, maybe they won't, maybe they'll just do a one-off. Honestly, if Tucker continues to release solo records while still taking care of her family, I'll be a happy fan. 1,000 Years is one of the better indie rock records to come out this year. Some of these songs could have been on a Sleater-Kinney album, some of them allow Tucker to explore new territory, but all of them are compelling for their own reasons. Motherhood obviously suits Tucker's personal life, but it's starting to enhance her artistic life as well.