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Record Of The Month Reading List: Sleater-Kinney

On July 25, 2019

Getting too excited waiting for your record to get to your doorstep? Or maybe you just want to know as much about Sleater-Kinney as humanly possible (who can blame you)? Here’s a few recommendations for you to enjoy before, during, or after listening to The Center Won’t Hold.

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For historical context:

Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution by Sarah Marcus

Girls to the Front details the history of the Riot Grrrl movement, a ’90s radical punk feminist movement following the end of Second Wave feminism that Sleater-Kinney rose to fame at the tail end of. It follows the journey of influential bands like Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, Heavens to Betsy, and Huggy Bear — and just as importantly, the culture and politics that surrounded them. “I want to scream something, something powerful and strong to make up for the helplessness that I feel now,” Marcus cites from an early Bikini Kill zine. “I want to scream because I am just as much of a human being as any man but I don’t always get treated like one, I want to scream because no matter how much I scream, no one will listen.”

To get to know another essential in the catalogue:

Dig Me Out by Jovana Babovic

Dig Me Out is a part of the incredible 33 ⅓ series of short books, each about one album. Centered around the bands’ third studio album (and their first with drummer Janet Weiss), it tells the story of Dig Me Out’s inception and recording in Olympia and Seattle, and how it ignited their careers and Sleater-Kinney’s ongoing fight to define themselves — as musicians and women — with and on their own terms. It’ll acquaint you with another album in their catalogue, but more importantly, it’ll help you understand how Sleater-Kinney changed rock music as a whole.

To get personal:

Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein

This is, by far, the best read for understanding Sleater-Kinney at its core on an intimate level. It’s a look into the scene through the eyes of one of the members, fused with her own personal narrative. Brownstein’s prose is candid, deeply empathetic, cerebral-yet-approachable, and, most of all, just plainly beautiful. “We were never trying to deny our femaleness. Instead, we wanted to expand the notion of what it means to be female,” she writes. “The notion of 'female' should be so sprawling and complex that it becomes divorced from gender itself. We were considered a female band before we became merely a band.”

For a deeper dive:

We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrrl to CoverGirl®, the Buying and Selling of a Political Movement by Andi Zeisler

Written by Andi Zeisler, founding editor of Bitch Media, this book takes a look at pop culture, the commodification of feminism, and how “marketplace feminism” has developed over the past few decades. While it doesn’t discuss Sleater-Kinney very heavily, it’s an interesting look at the ways in which the political movement they came to be associated has morphed into the way we see it appear in mainstream culture today.

Profile Picture of Amileah Sutliff
Amileah Sutliff

Amileah Sutliff is a New York-based writer, editor and creative producer and an editor of the book The Best Record Stores in the United States.

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