One Beat

One Beat
One Beat
Studio album by Sleater-Kinney
Released 20 August 2002
Recorded March–April 2002 at Jackpot! Studio, Portland, Oregon
Genre Punk rock, alternative rock
Length 43:27
Label Kill Rock Stars
Producer John Goodmanson
Sleater-Kinney chronology
All Hands on the Bad One
One Beat
The Woods

One Beat is the sixth studio album by American rock band Sleater-Kinney. Produced by John Goodmanson, the album was recorded between March and April 2002 at Jackpot! Studio in Portland, Oregon. It was released on 20 August 2002 on Kill Rock Stars. The record peaked at number 107 in the United States on the Billboard 200 and entered the Billboard Top Independent Albums at number five. One Beat was very well received by critics. Praise centred on its cathartic delivery and political polemics.


Origins and recording

One Beat is the follow-up to Sleater-Kinney's highly acclaimed fifth album All Hands on the Bad One released in 2000.[1] Before entering the studio, Sleater-Kinney practised in drummer Janet Weiss's basement.[2] The band conceived the album to be "the voice in the silence" following the terrorist attacks in the U.S. on 11 September 2001.[3] Lyricists and guitarists Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein did not follow a set blueprint when crafting the songs; rather, they simply worked off each other's input and proceeded in a piecemeal way.[2]

One Beat was produced by long-time collaborator John Goodmanson,[1] who came from the same educational background as Sleater-Kinney and recorded with most of the acts signed to Kill Rock Stars.[4] Weiss has stated that Goodmanson has a "unique" way of working with the band. Both parties decided to steer the album in a challenging new direction.[2] In a later interview, Brownstein commented that "sometimes when we would want to do new things, he would be like, "oh god, everyone would freak out if we did that, we can't do that!"".[4] After the recording sessions, Tucker indicated that she viewed the record's final mix as "a vast, sweeping landscape" that is the most fully formed release in the band's discography.[3]

Promotion and release

In March 2002, Sleater-Kinney previewed tracks from One Beat during a series of U.S. East Coast performances and at the All Tomorrow's Parties festival in Los Angeles.[1] Speaking about the development of the songs in a concert setting, Weiss has said, "The live forum is where we get the feedback from the people who we're really interested in communicating with." The album's track list was confirmed in May.[2] Before the release, Brownstein took time off to act in an independent film, Group, which documents a group of women meeting each week in therapy sessions. At the start of August, the band posted the 12 songs as QuickTime streams on the Kill Rock Stars label website.[1]

The album was released on 20 August 2002. Sleater-Kinney performed at a street festival in Los Angeles alongside Sonic Youth on the weekend of 25 August. They embarked on an extensive U.S. tour in support of One Beat at the start of September. The tour started with a concert at the Bluebird Theatre in Denver on 11 September—which coincided with the one-year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks—and ended with a gig at the 40 Watt Club in Athens, Georgia, on 24 October.[1] Sleater-Kinney continued touring with the album for two years, during which time they secured a support slot on Pearl Jam's U.S. tour.[4]

Lyrics and composition

Brownstein has referred to the album as a "strident and pointed political record, in terms of the lyrics".[4] The album contains some of Sleater-Kinney's most polemical songs; "Sympathy" and "Far Away" explicitly reference the September 11 terrorist attacks, and the latter track contains criticism of American president George W. Bush.[citation needed] Corin Tucker said that it "wasn’t really a conscious decision" to write about the attacks, but there was "just such as an overwhelming presence in our minds as we were trying to write songs, that we felt that we really needed to deal with it, and that we really needed to write about it."[5] The album's lyrics were also prominently influenced by the recent birth of Tucker's son Marshall Tucker Bangs, and according to Tucker, "Marshall is all over One Beat. The last year was definitely a difficult time for me, as he was born nine weeks premature and he was in the hospital for a while. It was the hardest thing that I've ever lived through, that fear and anxiety, and I think I was able to let go into the music."[6] The song "Sympathy" was written about the "terrifying" experience of Marshall's premature birth.[7] "Hollywood Ending" which attacks the concept of celebrity and the mainstream female beauty standard.

Brownstein described the album's overall sound by saying, "I think of Dig Me Out and The Hot Rock as the two ends of the spectrum and it's kind of been combined on this record. And then we also pushed ourselves beyond that."[8] Goodmanson said in an interview that "To me, it's not a record that's built for alternative radio. Yet, surprisingly, the reaction from everyone I've played it for has been like, 'Wow, these guys are really going for it.'"[9] "Far Away" and "Combat Rock" are both politically conscious songs. "Step Aside" references "the violence of the world outside" and the domestic responsibilities of motherhood. The track incorporates a horn section. In One Beat, Carrie Brownstein plays her guitar in the style of Document-era Peter Buck, the guitarist of alternative rock band R.E.M.. The album contains the use of wah-wah pedals, synthesisers, sing-along choruses, and hints of blues music.[10] The song "Prisstina" features backup vocals by American musician and composer Stephen Trask.[2]

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[11]
Alternative Press 3.5/5 stars[12]
Blender 5/5 stars[13]
Drowned in Sound (9/10)[14]
Entertainment Weekly (B+)[15]
NME (7/10)[16]
Pitchfork Media (9.1/10)[17]
Robert Christgau/The Village Voice (A)[18][19]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[20]
Stylus (B+)[21]

Media response to One Beat was highly favourable; aggregating website Metacritic reported a normalised rating of 85% in August 2002 based on 22 critical reviews.[22] Robert Christgau, reviewing in The Village Voice, explained that Sleater-Kinney aim for "defiant uplift" and seem energised by the challenge.[18][19] Neva Chonin of Rolling Stone pointed out that the trio's "riotous manifesto remains the same".[20] Victoria Segal of NME stated, "Few bands could explore motherhood and terrorism without making you want to shoot them: Corin Tucker's electric-shock voice and the adrenal guitars make them... essential pop topics."[16] Allmusic's Steve Huey commented that Sleater-Kinney sometimes sacrifices immediacy for angular melodies and riffs that "don't catch hold", but gave One Beat a rating of four stars out of five by noting that its "musical progression is still extremely impressive".[11] Drowned in Sound's Becky Stefani indicated that listening to the record momentarily makes one feel that "all is well in alternative music".[14] Douglas Wolk of Blender gave the album a maximum rating of five stars out of five by indicating that the band "swagger like they never have before, eschewing the filler that made their last few records drag".[13]

One Beat was ranked at number five in the Pazz & Jop poll run by The Village Voice, which surveyed 695 critics to find the best album of 2002,[23] while The Boston Phoenix included it in its unnumbered list of The Best Albums of 2002.[24] CMJ placed the record at number 6 in its Top 10 of 2002 list,[25] while Rolling Stone critic Andrew Dansby named it at number eight in his personal list.[26] Spin ranked the album at number 12 in its list of The 40 Best Albums of 2002; staff writer Caryn Ganz praised it as Sleater-Kinney's "sharpest statement yet".[27] Pitchfork Media placed the record at number 14 in its end-of-year list for 2002; contributor Brandon Reid wrote, "Years at the top haven't dulled their willingness to take risks, and that's just what they do, spectacularly, on One Beat."[28]

Track listing

All songs written and composed by Sleater-Kinney. 

No. Title Length
1. "One Beat"   3:08
2. "Far Away"   3:45
3. "Oh!"   3:56
4. "The Remainder"   3:36
5. "Light Rail Coyote"   3:09
6. "Step Aside"   3:44
7. "Combat Rock"   4:47
8. "O2"   3:30
9. "Funeral Song"   2:47
10. "Prisstina"   3:31
11. "Hollywood Ending"   3:19
12. "Sympathy"   4:15
  • "Funeral Song" and "Prisstina" were incorrectly listed as track 10 and track 9 respectively on the CD and LP pressings (catalog KRS 387).

Limited edition bonus disc

No. Title Length
1. "Off With Your Head"   2:28
2. "Lions and Tigers"   3:28




  • Carrie Brownstein – guitar, vocals
  • Corin Tucker – vocals, guitar
  • Janet Weiss – drums, percussion, vocals

Additional musicians


Chart positions

Chart (2002) Peak
Billboard 200 (U.S.)[30] 107
Billboard Top Independent Albums (U.S.)[30] 5
Billboard Top Heatseekers (U.S.)[30] 2


  1. ^ a b c d e "Sleater-Kinney: Listen To The 'Beat'". London Tourdates. 5 August 2002. Retrieved 7 September 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Dansby, Andrew (14 May 2002). "Sleater-Kinney Wrap "One Beat"". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 7 September 2009. 
  3. ^ a b Guzzetta, Marli (10 April 2003). "Perfect Prescription". New Times Broward-Palm Beach. Retrieved 8 September 2009. 
  4. ^ a b c d Ellis, Jackson (7 April 2005). "Interview: Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney". Verbicide. Retrieved 7 September 2009. 
  5. ^ Ha, Anthony. "Geeky Fanboy meets Sleater-Kinney". Stanford Daily, 3 October 2002.
  6. ^ "Sleater-Kinney". Rolling Stone, 2002.
  7. ^ Sheffield, Rob. "Sleater Kinney: America’s Answer to the Clash". Rolling Stone, 30 October 2003.
  8. ^ Heim, Joe (2002). "An Interview With Sleater-Kinney's Carrie Brownstein". The Washington Post.
  9. ^ Mehr, Bob (2002). "A Riot Of Their Own". Seattle Weekly.
  10. ^ Moody, Rick (2005). "On Sleater-Kinney". Retrieved 6 September 2009. 
  11. ^ a b Huey, Steve. "One Beat: Sleater-Kinney". Allmusic. Retrieved 1 September 2009. 
  12. ^ Heisel, Scott (October 2002). "Sleater-Kinney: One Beat". Alternative Press. p. 94. 
  13. ^ a b Wolk, Douglas (20 August 2002). "Sleater-Kinney: One Beat". Blender. Retrieved 1 September 2009. 
  14. ^ a b Stefani, Becky (2 September 2002). "Sleater-Kinney: One Beat". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved 1 September 2009. 
  15. ^ Serpick, Evan (26 August 2002). "Music Capsule Review: One Beat". Entertainment Weekly.,,338068,00.html. Retrieved 1 September 2009. 
  16. ^ a b Segal, Victoria (16 August 2002). "Sleater-Kinney : One Beat". NME. Retrieved 1 September 2009. 
  17. ^ Mitchum, Rob (27 August 2002). "Sleater-Kinney: One Beat". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 1 September 2009. 
  18. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (3 September 2002). "A Very Good Year". The Village Voice. Retrieved 1 September 2009. 
  19. ^ a b Christgau, Robert. "Sleater-Kinney > Consumer Guide Reviews". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 21 Aug 2011. 
  20. ^ a b Chonin, Neva (September 5, 2002). "Sleater-Kinney: One Beat". Rolling Stone (904). Archived from the original on 30 Sep 2007. Retrieved 1 September 2009. 
  21. ^ Chakroff, Evan (1 September 2002). "Sleater-Kinney: One Beat". Stylus. Retrieved 1 September 2009. 
  22. ^ "One Beat by Sleater-Kinney". Metacritic. Retrieved 6 September 2009. 
  23. ^ "The 2002 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll". The Village Voice. February 18, 2003. Retrieved 7 September 2009. 
  24. ^ Ashare, Matt. "The beat goes on: The best albums of 2002". The Boston Phoenix. Retrieved 7 September 2009. 
  25. ^ CMJ staff (30 December 2002). "Top 10 of 2002". CMJ. p. 10. 
  26. ^ "Our Critics' Top Albums of 2002". Rolling Stone. December 26, 2002. Archived from the original on 28 Dec 2006. Retrieved 7 September 2009. 
  27. ^ Spin staff (9 July 2003). "The 40 Best Albums of 2002". Spin. Retrieved 7 September 2009. 
  28. ^ Pitchfork Media staff (1 January 2003). "Top 50 Albums of 2002". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 7 September 2009. 
  29. ^ (2002) Album notes for One Beat by Sleater-Kinney [CD booklet]. Olympia, Washington: Kill Rock Stars.
  30. ^ a b c "One Beat: Billboard Albums". Billboard / Allmusic. Retrieved 1 September 2009. 

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