Published Jan 19, 2016Sleater-Kinney were pioneers of a mid-'90s Pacific Northwest rock movement, rising from the embers of riot grrrl and bursting forth with an explosive combination of brash noise and feminist ideals. After churning out seven albums, Corin Tucker, Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss announced an indefinite hiatus in 2005, leaving behind an unsettling silence — until 2015.
They stormed back with No Cities to Love, quashing any doubt that the band's faculty for fierce, riveting rock music had changed. What has changed is the world that the album was unleashed upon; in a decade sans Sleater-Kinney, a new generation of bands sprouted up that remain both in debt to and in awe of the one that declare on "Bury Your Friends" that: "We're wild and weary but we won't give in."
Hop Along turned heads with Painted Shut this year, keeping the tradition of crunchy guitars and guttural-but-melodic shout-singing alive. The group's frontwoman Frances Quinlan credits Sleater-Kinney with changing her life, telling Exclaim! that after hearing it "music was never the same again."
Toronto's Dilly Dally, who released critically acclaimed debut Sore in 2015, see the band's influence as a bigger picture thing. "Its possible they've paved the way for a lot of female songwriters," said Katie Monks, noting that industry attitudes have certainly changed. "It all feels so natural now to me."
Speedy Ortiz are keeping the torch of socially conscious guitar music alight, opening a hotline this year to ensure safety at all of their shows and pronouncing a platform against "oppressive" and "marginalizing" views. Sadie Dupuis has long admired Sleater-Kinney's work. "It was (and is) important not only to fans of their music, but also to the she-shredders who saw from S-K's lead that it's okay to be fearless on your instrument, regardless of your gender."
Waxahatchee's Ivy Tripp LP launched Katie Crutchfield to new heights this year, and she ended 2015 on tour opening for Sleater-Kinney. "Something about their music feels fearless and I have always been so inspired by that," she says. "As a young artist there is nothing cooler to me than a band that has been consistently relevant for over 20 years and still makes great records."
Girlpool are newcomers to the same Philadelphia DIY scene that spawned Waxahatchee. Still teens, the grunge-pop duo had the benefit of growing up with not just Sleater-Kinney, but a wave of music inspired by them. If their debut LP Before the World Was Big is any indication, this band could well be inspiring their own deluge of bold, brazen art-punk ten years from now.