Sleater-Kinney, the acclaimed Pacific Northwest indie trio hailed as the “Best Band in America” by “Time” magazine in 2001, left many fans disappointed when they went on what was called “indefinite hiatus” in 2006. There’s been no word of any reunion as yet. But today it was announced that a box set of the group’s recordings, “Start Together” is on its way.
All seven of Sleater-Kinney’s albums — “Sleater-Kinney,” “Call the Doctor,” “Dig Me Out,” “The Hot Rock,” “All Hands On the Bad One,” “One Beat,” and “The Woods — have been remastered for the set, which will be released on October 21 by Sub Pop. Along with standard vinyl and CD versions, there’s also a nifty limited edition box (in a run of only 3000) featuring the albums on colored vinyl, an accompanying book with previously unreleased photos, and a limited edition print. Digital editions of the albums went on sale today, September 2, at iTunes, Amazon, and Sub Pop’s Mega Mart.
Fans will be disappointed that the set contains no bonus material. But the remastering does provide a new listening experience. “For such ferocious music, it was actually a very delicate process,” Greg Calbi, who remastered the albums at Sterling Sound in New York City, said in a press release. “I found, in dealing with one of the earlier albums, that my signal path and compression, including my Burl B2 convertor, gave me a more resonant, deeper sound on the guitars than the originals. Because the band rarely, if ever, used bass, I felt that this added to the aggressiveness and power of the band overall. I believe this treatment added a subtle, yet important, dimension to the band, and I explored each of the other albums with the same intention.”
Indeed, it’s on the band’s first two albums (originally released in 1995 and 1996) that Calbi’s touch is most evident; in contrast to the thin sound of the original releases, the remasters sound positively robust. There’s a greater clarity on the later releases as well (the band’s last album, “The Woods,” was released in 2005), though the overall differences are more subtle.
The band’s members haven’t been on hiatus from the music industry since Sleater-Kinney’s split. Guitarist Carrie Brownstein and drummer Janet Weiss worked together in the band Wild Flag while guitarist Corin Tucker has headed up her own outfit, the Corin Tucker Band. Weiss has also played with Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks and Quasi, and Brownstein carved out a second career in television, co-starring with Fred Armisen on the comedy series “Portlandia.”
Nonetheless, the release of “Start Together” will undoubtedly prompt questions about a possible Sleater-Kinney reunion. There was an impromptu get together on November 29, 2013, when the band members joined Pearl Jam on stage at a concert in Portland, performing “Rocking in the Free World,” and Brownstein has hinted a possible full-fledged reunion in interviews. Could the box set be wedge that opens the door to an actual reunion? Stay tuned.