The band was formed in Olympia, Washingtonnote by guitarists/vocalists Corin Tucker (formerly of Heavens To Betsy) and Carrie Brownstein (formerly of Excuse 17). They named themselves after the Sleater-Kinney Road in Lacey, Washington, where their first practice space was. Their drummer for the first two albums was Lora MacFarlane, who was replaced in 1997 by Janet Weiss.
While Sleater-Kinney began as a more-or-less typical Riot Grrrl band, they distinguished themselves from the start by lacking a bassist - the role was more or less fulfilled by Tucker's downtuned rhythm guitar. With 1997's Dig Me Out, they started Growing the Beard and experimenting with their style; their new, more melodic and complex sound received much critical acclaim.
Since their hiatus, Corin Tucker now has a solo career going, while Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss are in the Supergroup Wild Flag alongside Mary Timony (formerly of Helium and Team Sleep) and Rebecca Cole. Brownstein has a long career as a writer, dating back to when she was a staff writer for The Believer magazine while still a member of the band. She wrote the popular blog Monitor Mix for NPR for several years and can currently be seen in Portlandia, a sketch comedy show she co-created, co-writes and co-stars in with Fred Armisen.
The band reunited in 2014 for a new album, No Cities to Love, which was released in 2015 and tour. They will release a new album, The Center Won't Hold, produced by StVincent, in August 2019, and are set for an American tour in the fall of 2019 and a European tour the winter of 2020.
Drummer Weiss announced she was leaving the band on July 1, 2019. No replacement has been announced.
- Sleater-Kinney (1995)
- Call the Doctor (1996)
- Dig Me Out (1997)
- The Hot Rock (1999)
- All Hands on the Bad One (2000)
- One Beat (2002)
- The Woods (2005)
- No Cities to Love (2015)
- The Center Won't Hold (2019)
- Path of Wellness (2021)
Sleater-Kinney provide examples of:
- Animated Music Video: A cartoon Sleater-Kinney interacts with the Bob's Burgers kids in "A New Wave".
- Break-Up Song: "One More Hour".
- Careful with That Axe: "Heart Attack".
- The Cover Changes the Meaning: The band's version of "More Than A Feeling" features added and removed lyrics, and is much faster than the original.
- Creator Couple: Carrie and Corin dated in the early days of the band.
- Downer Ending: "Fade", the final track on No Cities to Love, seems to be about living life like there's no tomorrow. Which isn't a downer in and of itself, but it ends with these lyrics:Oh, what a price that we paidMy dearest nightmare, my conscience, the end
- Driven to Suicide: "Jumpers", the fourth song on 'The Woods' was inspired by the real-life jumpers of the Golden Gate Bridge and includes these lyrics:I took a taxi to the GateI will not go to school againFour seconds was the longest wait
- Epic Rocking: "Let's Call It Love" from The Woods.
- Excited Show Title!: One Beat has a song simply titled "Oh!"
- Female Rockers Play Bass: Deliberately averted. They settled on their two guitar/one drum lineup to counter stereotypes that women always played bass.
- Good Girl Gone Bad: "Prisstina"
- Harsh Vocals
- I Never Got Any Letters: "Write Me Back, Fucker"
- Location Song: Light Rail Coyote off of One Beat is about Portland, Oregon.
- Loudness War: The Woods was badly brick-walled on release, having only a DR value of 3. While the album had Noise Rock influences, this probably louder than intended as the vinyl and remaster have a DR of 10 and 13 respective.
- Mohs Scale of Lyrical Hardness: Generally around a 4-7, though "Jumpers" is a pretty clear 9 due to its explicit depiction of depression and suicide from a suicidal person's perspective.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Generally range from a 3-6, sometimes a 7, especially on "The Woods" due to Corin's use of C# (3 steps down) tuning and the Noise Rock influences.
- Noise Rock: A notable influence on 'The Woods', which explains the louder production.
- Ode to Intoxication: "Heavy (When I Need It)" from the deluxe edition of No Cities To Love
- Protest Song: Pretty much all of One Beat.
- Questioning Title?: "Was It a Lie?" from All Hands on the Bad One and "What If I Was Right?" (B-side).
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Carrie and Corin's contrasting vocals are a musical equivalent. Carrie is the Blue Oni to Corin's Red.
- Interestingly, in terms of character and stage persona, it's switched.
- Self-Titled Album: Their first album Sleater-Kinney.
- Shout-Out: The cover for Dig Me Out is patterned after the one for The Kinks' album The Kink Kontroversy.
- The Something Song: "Surf Song", "Slow Song", "Lora's Song","The Last Song", "Dance Song '97", "One Song For You" and "Funeral Song"
- Three Chords and the Truth: Their first two albums.
- Vinyl Shatters: Corin snaps a 45 in the "You're No Rock n' Roll Fun" video
- Vocal Tag Team: A common song structure is for Corin and Carrie to trade off between their own verses/choruses that are distinct from each other's, and then for both to sing the overlapping melodies as the song reaches its climax.