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Dig Me Out

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Dig Me Out
SleaterKinneyDigMeOut.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedApril 8, 1997
RecordedDecember 1996 – January 1997
StudioJohn and Stu's Place in Seattle, Washington
GenrePunk rock
Length36:34
LabelKill Rock Stars
ProducerJohn Goodmanson
Sleater-Kinney chronology
Call the Doctor
(1996)
Dig Me Out
(1997)
The Hot Rock
(1999)
Singles from Dig Me Out
  1. "One More Hour"
    Released: June 1, 1998
  2. "Little Babies"
    Released: September 7, 1998

Dig Me Out is the third studio album by the American rock band Sleater-Kinney, released on April 8, 1997, by Kill Rock Stars. The album was produced by John Goodmanson and recorded from December 1996 to January 1997 at John and Stu's Place in Seattle, Washington. Dig Me Out marked the debut of Janet Weiss, who is the band's longest-serving drummer. The music on the record was influenced by traditional rock and roll bands, while the lyrics deal with issues of heartbreak and survival. The album cover is an homage to The Kinks' 1965 album The Kink Kontroversy.

Two singles were released in support of the album: "One More Hour" and "Little Babies". The title track "Dig Me Out" peaked at number six on the KEXP Top 90.3 Album Chart in 1997 without being released as a single. The album was acclaimed by music critics, who praised the album's energy and feminist lyrics. Retrospectively, Dig Me Out is considered the band's breakthrough record and is frequently included on several publications' best album lists. In 2003, Rolling Stone ranked it No. 272 on its list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Background and recording[edit]

Dig Me Out is the follow-up to Sleater-Kinney's highly acclaimed second album Call the Doctor, released in 1996 by the queercore independent record label Chainsaw Records. Call the Doctor confirmed the band's reputation as one of the major musical acts from the Pacific Northwest, rebelling against gender roles, consumerism, and indie rock's male-dominated hierarchy.[1][2] After the release of Call the Doctor, drummer Janet Weiss of Quasi joined the band. Previously, the band had had a number of temporary drummers, including Misty Farrell, Lora Macfarlane, and Toni Gogin.[3] Weiss would eventually become Sleater-Kinney's longest serving drummer. For its third album, Sleater-Kinney worked again with producer John Goodmanson.[4] The band left Chainsaw Records and decided to release the album through Kill Rock Stars, another independent record label which singer and guitarist Corin Tucker thought had better resources to ensure the band's distribution. Goodmanson also remarked that Kill Rock Stars afforded the band a generous amount of studio time for an independent label, stating that Call the Doctor only took four days to record while Dig Me Out was recorded over the period of eight days.[5]

Dig Me Out was written in nearly two months and recorded from December 1996 to January 1997 at John and Stu's Place in Seattle, Washington.[6][7] During the recording sessions, recording the vocal interplay between Tucker and co-vocalist and guitarist Carrie Brownstein involved some difficulties. However, the producer took care and prevented favoring one voice over the other. As Goodmanson recalls: "We always used different mikes for the lead vocal and for the second vocal, or different kinds of processing to make those things really distinct. To make it so you can hear both things at once".[3] Goodmanson also noted that the fact that the band features no bass player was an advantage for the album's production.[4] He explained: "The awesome thing about having no bass player is you can make the guitars sound as big as you want. Usually you have to clear all that room out for the bass, so you can hear the bass line. With no bass there, you can just go for giant guitar sounds that you wouldn't normally be able to go for".[4]

Music and lyrics[edit]

Musically, Dig Me Out was considered rockier than its predecessor. Weiss' drumming style was influenced by traditional rock and roll bands such as The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, and The Kinks, as well as numerous blues rock musicians such as Lightnin' Hopkins, Muddy Waters, Billy Boy Arnold, and Bessie Smith, among others.[4] Both Tucker and Brownstein remarked that Weiss became an essential part of the band's sound. According to Tucker, "Musically, she's completed our band. She's become the bottom end and the solidness that we've really wanted for our songwriting".[4] In addition to playing drums, Weiss provides hand claps and tambourine in "Turn It On".[4] Dig Me Out also contains more guitar and vocal interplay by Tucker and Brownstein than Call the Doctor.[8] As Brownstein explains, "If you were to separate our guitar parts I don't necessarily think they would fully stand on their own. Our songs [...] aren't really complete until the other person has put their part over it, and their vocals".[8]

The lyrical themes on Dig Me Out deal with issues of heartbreak and survival.[9] The song "One More Hour" is about the breakup of Tucker and Brownstein's romantic relationship.[10] Before the release of the album, Spin published a controversial article discussing Tucker and Brownstein's personal relationship without their permission.[6] Brownstein felt that "it was a complete invasion of privacy. My parents didn't know Corin and I were going out. They didn't know I had ever dated a woman before. It was horrible. I was pissed at Spin, really mad. Luckily my parents are great people, but God forbid I would have some family that would disown me over something like that. And I would have totally held Spin responsible for that."[6] The song features a lot of vocal interplay by Tucker and Brownstein. Chris Nelson of Addicted to Noise noted that "one can almost hear Tucker crying in the studio as she wails, 'I needed it', while behind her Brownstein offers her attempts at consolation".[3] In her 2015 memoir Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl, Brownstein also states that almost all the songs on Dig Me Out are about either her or Tucker's future husband, Lance Bangs.[11]

Like its predecessor, Dig Me Out also features songs that show frustration with sexism and gender stereotypes.[12] "Little Babies" is a protest against the traditional maternity role, while the title song "Dig Me Out" exposes a woman in a dominant role.[12] The album's title was inspired by the fact that the band had to literally dig out the recording studio after a heavy snowstorm that took place in Winter 1996 in Seattle.[13] Musically, the song "Words and Guitar" was said to "[leap] and [skit] with the just-released repression of early Talking Heads",[12] while "Dance Song '97" was said to "sport Devo-esque keyboards of a distinctly '80s vintage".[14] Jenn Pelly of Pitchfork described "Heart Factory" as a song that "roars over synthetic emotions of the Prozac Nation."[15]

Release[edit]

Dig Me Out was released on April 8, 1997, by Kill Rock Stars.[16] The album cover is an homage to The Kinks' 1965 album The Kink Kontroversy.[2] The layouts are identical, with the exception that The Kinks had a fourth member and thus a fourth portrait lining the top. Sleater-Kinney substituted their own portraits and their own guitars.[2] As a fan of The Kinks, Weiss explained that the cover suggested that Sleater-Kinney could be an example of a "revered" rock band.[2] When Dig Me Out was released, the band went on a tour to promote the album; a performance of "Words and Guitar" at El Rey Theatre, Los Angeles is featured in the documentary film Songs for Cassavetes by Justin Mitchell.[17] As of July 1999, the album has sold 64,000 copies in the U.S. according to Nielsen SoundScan.[18] As of February 2015, Dig Me Out has sold 130,000 copies.[19]

Two songs from the album, "One More Hour" and "Little Babies", were released as singles by Matador Records on June 1, 1998, and September 7, 1998, respectively.[20][21] The first single features the song "I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone" from Call the Doctor as the B-side, while the second single features "I'm Not Waiting", also from their previous album.[20][21] The compact disc version of "One More Hour" includes a third song, "Don't Think You Wanna", which was originally released on the band's debut album Sleater-Kinney.[20] The song "Dig Me Out" peaked at number six on the KEXP Top 90.3 Album Chart in 1997 without being released as a single.[22]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[23]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music4/5 stars[24]
Entertainment WeeklyB+[25]
Los Angeles Times3.5/4 stars[26]
NME8/10[27]
Pitchfork9.3/10[15]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[14]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4/5 stars[28]
Spin9/10[12]
The Village VoiceA[29]

Upon release, Dig Me Out received substantial acclaim from music critics. Randall Roberts, writing for CMJ New Music Monthly, described the album as a "hum of life wholly transcending gender and genre, filled with the kind of excitement and singular voice that made punk rock glorious in its infancy [...] Dig Me Out is a monster".[30] Sara Scribner of Los Angeles Times praised Tucker's emotional vocal delivery, writing that "she's obsessed with finding honest emotions within the cold machinery of the human heart."[26] Ann Powers stated similar pros and highlighted Brownstein's energetic guitar playing, noting that the band "now [delivers] the punch their words describe."[12] She also gave high marks to the album's feminist lyrics, commenting "If [Sleater-Kinney] wanna be our Simone de Beauvoir, Dig Me Out proves they're up to it."[12] Similarly, Matt Diehl of Rolling Stone said that, "while the Spice Girls prattle on about 'girl power', Sleater-Kinney remain the real socket for that energy".[14]

AllMusic reviewer Jason Ankeny credited the band for expanding their musical boundaries with a more confident and mature sound.[23] Wook Kim of Entertainment Weekly praised Tucker and Brownstein's "interlocking" vocals and called the record a "fine example of state-of-the-art punk".[25] In The Village Voice, critic Robert Christgau praised the union and teamwork of the band, stating that "they're so confident of their ability to please that they just can't stop. And this confidence is collective: Corin and Carrie chorus-trade like the two-headed girl, dashing and high-stepping around on Janet Weiss's shoulders. What a ride".[29] Dig Me Out appeared at No. 4 in The Village Voice's Pazz & Jop critics' poll for 1997.[31] In the poll's accompanying essay, Christgau referred to the album as one of his "favorite albums of the year, easy", alongside those by Pavement, Yo La Tengo, and Arto Lindsay.[32] Similarly, Spin journalists placed the album at No. 3 in their list of Top 20 Albums of the Year.[33]

Legacy[edit]

Retrospectively, Dig Me Out is considered Sleater-Kinney's breakthrough album.[2] According to About.com's Anthony Carew, the record took the band "from the cult corner of the Pacific Northwest to international acclaim".[34] Writing for Nooga.com, Joshua Pickard stated that the album "was a revelation for both its clever use of punk principles and for its breakdown of social assumptions."[35] With the album, Pickard felt that Sleater-Kinney "succeeded in reshaping what was considered possible for punk rock", and that the album transformed the band into "an institution of rebellion and proponents of a musical insurgency. And they never compromised on their ideas of what music could and should be."[35]

Dig Me Out is frequently included on several publications' best album lists. In 1999, Dig Me Out was ranked No. 21 on Spin's list of The 90 Greatest Albums of the '90s.[36] In 2001, Spin placed it at No. 19 on its list of 50 Most Essential Punk Records.[37] In 2012, the album was ranked No. 272 on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.[38] In 2005, the album was ranked No. 24 in Spin's 100 Greatest Albums, 1985–2005.[39] In 2012, Spin also ranked it at No. 74 on their 125 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years, stating that "Dig Me Out captures the noise of a soul-filled body shaking itself awake, and that's an experience that bridges any gender divide."[40] In 2008, the song "Dig Me Out" was ranked No. 44 in Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time".[41] In 2011, the album was placed at No. 71 by Slant Magazine on its list of The 100 Best Albums of the 1990s.[42] The album was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[43]

Track listing[edit]

All music composed by Sleater-Kinney.

No.TitleLength
1."Dig Me Out"2:40
2."One More Hour"3:19
3."Turn It On"2:47
4."The Drama You've Been Craving"2:08
5."Heart Factory"3:54
6."Words and Guitar"2:21
7."It's Enough"1:46
8."Little Babies"2:22
9."Not What You Want"3:17
10."Buy Her Candy"2:02
11."Things You Say"2:56
12."Dance Song '97"2:49
13."Jenny"4:03
Total length:36:34

Personnel[edit]

Credits are adapted from the album's liner notes.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ankeny, Jason. "Sleater-Kinney Biography". AllMusic. Archived from the original on October 18, 2014. Retrieved August 23, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e Babović, Jovana (August 26, 2017). "How Sleater-Kinney became heroes of rock". Salon. Archived from the original on August 28, 2017. Retrieved September 23, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c Nelson, Chris. "Sleater-Kinney Make Rock & Roll New Again – Page 3". Addicted to Noise. Archived from the original on June 10, 2000. Retrieved May 2, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Nelson, Chris. "Sleater-Kinney Make Rock & Roll New Again – Page 2". Addicted to Noise. Archived from the original on June 10, 2000. Retrieved May 2, 2015.
  5. ^ Nelson, Chris. "Sleater-Kinney Make Rock & Roll New Again – Page 5". Addicted to Noise. Archived from the original on June 11, 2000. Retrieved May 2, 2015.
  6. ^ a b c Goldman, Marlene (February 19, 1999). "Hot-Rockin' Beats". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on May 2, 2009. Retrieved October 1, 2007.
  7. ^ a b Dig Me Out (CD booklet). Sleater-Kinney. Olympia, Washington: Kill Rock Stars. 1997. KRS #279.CS1 maint: others (link)
  8. ^ a b Nelson, Chris. "Sleater-Kinney Make Rock & Roll New Again – Page 4". Addicted to Noise. Archived from the original on June 11, 2000. Retrieved May 2, 2015.
  9. ^ Nelson, Chris. "Sleater-Kinney Make Rock & Roll New Again – Page 1". Addicted to Noise. Archived from the original on June 10, 2000. Retrieved May 2, 2015.
  10. ^ Tinkham, Chris (August 12, 2006). "Sleater-Kinney". Under the Radar. Archived from the original on February 21, 2009. Retrieved February 21, 2009.
  11. ^ Ryan, Kyle (October 26, 2016). "Carrie Brownstein finally lets down her guard in an engrossing memoir". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on December 7, 2015. Retrieved December 7, 2015.
  12. ^ a b c d e f Powers, Ann (June 1997). "Sleater-Kinney: Dig Me Out". Spin. Vol. 13. p. 117. Retrieved August 23, 2013.
  13. ^ Linn, Allison (April 3, 1998). "Scottish trio jazzes up its punk-pop sound". The Register-Guard. p. 9. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
  14. ^ a b c Diehl, Matt (April 17, 1997). "Dig Me Out". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on May 2, 2009. Retrieved May 2, 2009.
  15. ^ a b Pelly, Jenn (October 24, 2014). "Sleater-Kinney: Start Together". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on October 24, 2014. Retrieved October 24, 2014.
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  17. ^ Zoladz, Lindsay (July 16, 2013). "Hush, Hush and Rock: Snapshot Of A Young Sleater-Kinney". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on August 24, 2013. Retrieved August 24, 2013.
  18. ^ Boehm, Mike (July 1, 1999). "Emerging From Under Rock". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on February 28, 2014. Retrieved September 17, 2013.
  19. ^ "Unfinished Business". NPR. February 3, 2015. Archived from the original on July 27, 2015. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  20. ^ a b c "One More Hour – Sleater-Kinney". AllMusic. Archived from the original on September 10, 2014. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
  21. ^ a b "Little Babies – Sleater-Kinney". AllMusic. Archived from the original on September 10, 2014. Retrieved August 23, 2013.
  22. ^ "The KEXP Top 90.3 Album Chart for 1997". KEXP-FM. Archived from the original on August 11, 2013. Retrieved August 21, 2013.
  23. ^ a b Ankeny, Jason. "Dig Me Out – Sleater-Kinney". AllMusic. Archived from the original on September 19, 2012. Retrieved May 5, 2013.
  24. ^ Larkin, Colin (September 2007). Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-1846098567.
  25. ^ a b Kim, Wook (April 25, 1997). "Dig Me Out". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on April 21, 2009. Retrieved August 31, 2013.
  26. ^ a b Scribner, Sara (April 5, 1997). "'Dig Me Out' Shimmers Like a New Rock Frontier". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on January 20, 2016. Retrieved June 14, 2016.
  27. ^ Williams, Simon (October 18, 1997). "Sleater-Kinney – Dig Me Out". NME. Archived from the original on August 17, 2000. Retrieved June 14, 2016.
  28. ^ Chonin, Neva (November 2004). "Sleater-Kinney". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Fireside Books. pp. 742–743. ISBN 978-0743201698. Retrieved January 10, 2011.
  29. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (April 15, 1997). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved January 9, 2015.
  30. ^ Roberts, Randall (June 1997). "Dig Me Out". CMJ New Music Monthly. No. 46. p. 12. Retrieved August 23, 2013.
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  32. ^ Christgau, Robert (February 24, 1998). "The Year of No Next Big Thing". The Village Voice. Archived from the original on June 25, 2002. Retrieved August 3, 2012.
  33. ^ Aaron, Charles (January 1998). "Top 20 Albums of the Year". Spin. Vol. 14 no. 1. p. 86. Retrieved September 23, 2017.
  34. ^ Carew, Anthony. "Definitive Albums: Sleater-Kinney 'Dig Me Out' (1997)". About.com. Archived from the original on March 29, 2013. Retrieved August 31, 2013.
  35. ^ a b Pickard, Joshua (September 23, 2017). "Record Bin: How Sleater-Kinney used punk rock to break social stereotypes on 'Dig Me Out'". Nooga.com. Archived from the original on September 23, 2017. Retrieved August 31, 2013.
  36. ^ McDonnell, Evelyn (September 1999). "The 90 Greatest Albums of the '90s". Spin. Vol. 15 no. 9. p. 128. Retrieved October 7, 2014.
  37. ^ "50 Most Essential Punk Records". Spin. May 2001. p. 109.
  38. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time (Page 272)". Rolling Stone. May 31, 2012. Archived from the original on February 12, 2013. Retrieved May 5, 2013.
  39. ^ "100 Greatest Albums, 1985–2005". Spin. Vol. 21. July 2005. p. 78. Retrieved August 23, 2013.
  40. ^ "125 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years". Spin. February 15, 2012. Archived from the original on July 24, 2013. Retrieved June 12, 2013.
  41. ^ "The 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time (Page 20)". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on May 31, 2008. Retrieved June 5, 2008.
  42. ^ "The 100 Best Albums of the 1990s". Slant Magazine. February 14, 2011. Archived from the original on May 29, 2012. Retrieved August 23, 2013.
  43. ^ Dimery, Robert; Lydon, Michael (March 2010). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe Publishing. ISBN 978-0789320742.

External links[edit]