Album: Dig Me Out
. . .
If the sound of Sleater-Kinney has always been a never-ending conversation between the guitars and voices of Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein, then the drumming of Janet Weiss was an ongoing commentary, if not a moderation, of that conversation. Weiss joined for the recording of their third album, 1997’s Dig Me Out, and the impact of her endlessly inventive drumming was instant: somehow she found the spaces in between the guitars and voices, and her drum parts both exacerbated and released the tensions in the songs.
Check out her drumming on the verses of “Little Babies:” if you isolated the drums outside of the context of the guitars and vocals, what she was playing would make no sense whatsoever: a weird pattern of snare hits, floor tom fills and hi-hat twirls that in no way, shape or form resembles a conventional rock beat. But with mixed in with the big guitar stabs, Corin Tucker’s lead vocals and Carrie Brownstein’s counter-melodies, it fits like a glove, especially when she drops into a double-backbeat for the chorus.
Dum dum dee dee dum dum dee dum do
All the little babies go oh oh I want to
Dum dum dee dee dum dum dee dum yeah
Rock the little babies with one two three four
And then, the second the chorus was over, bam! Back to the the weird shit: stops and starts and pushes and pulls. But Weiss could also go into big rock overdrive, like on the bridge, where the guitars skronk and squeal and Weiss pushes them harder and faster while Tucker screams “momma’s little helper” a few times. That, of course, was a direct Rolling Stones reference, even more blatant that the album cover’s homage to The Kink Kontroversy.
Like Call The Doctor, Dig Me Out didn’t really sell very much at the time — though, according to Wikipedia, as of 2015, it was the best-selling of all of their records, having sold 138,000 copies — but it did make it to #4 in the Village Voice’s 1997 Pazz & Jop critics poll.
“Little Babies” live on NPR, 2015
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