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The Corin Tucker Band - Kill My Blues

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Artist: The Corin Tucker Band

Album: Kill My Blues

Label: Kill Rock Stars

Review date: Sep. 26, 2012

Corin Tucker’s discography looks pretty fantastic at this point. Even if you don’t factor in Sleater-Kinney, her work with Heavens to Betsy would earn her a notable place in the history of punk rock. Kill My Blues is her second album since Sleater-Kinney entered the if-there’s-a-reunion-don’t-call-it-a-reunion “hiatus” zone, and it finds her band sounding, well, like a proper band, with plenty of musical give-and-take surrounding her. And, with a few brief exceptions, that works well here; for Tucker’s persona, focused intensity is the key.

If the image of water-skiing on the cover didn’t provide a significant clue, Kill My Blues is (in its own way) a party record. The beachfront idyll of “Neskowin” ends with a danceable post-punk breakdown, and there’s a song later in the album titled “Summer Jams.” On the flip side is “I Don’t Wanna Go,” whose narrator faces her own mortality; while the tempos stay relentlessly upbeat, the keyboards that have been buoyant so far turn chaotic, surging, threatening to creep into dissonance.

It’s worth mentioning here that Tucker and band — drummer Sara Lund (of Unwound and Hungry Ghost), bassist Mike Clark, and guitarist Seth Lorinczi — sound both incredibly tight and quite relaxed around one another. In comparison to their 2010 debut, 1000 Years, the group sounds self-assured and focused on establishing their own sound, which turns out to be a catchy one. There’s a steadily accelerating breakdown in the middle of “Summer Jams” that shows off the instrumental chops, and the organ that takes the lead on the melody to “Constance” melody blends seamlessly with its more guitar-driven sections.

Kill My Blues is alternately ecstatic and mournful, embracing life but aware of the tragedies that can arise along the way. It’s an album that makes the most of its contradictions — the gulf between its most rhapsodic elements and its contemplative ones provides its share of thrilling moments along the way.

By Tobias Carroll

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