What is the sound of an avalanche taking out a dolphin? What do get when you cross a hamburger with a hot dog? The answer is: WILD FLAG.
When you think of Portland you may not immediately think of the comedic duo of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, but you really should. If you are unfamiliar with the show Portlandia then get yourself familiarized right quick, it’s a crazy batch of hilariousness wrapped up in a convenient 30-minute package that you would be amiss to neglect. In addition to what is sure to be your new favorite show, the city of Portland in conjunction with Washington, D.C. has also delivered to us the foursome of ladies that make up the super group Wild Flag. Wild Flag, is the brain child of the immensely talented and floppy haired singer/songwriter/actress/comedian/all around rad chick Carrie Brownstein and some of her former music colleagues. When she tired of making comedic gold with Fred Armisen, she convinced three of her best musician lady friends to join her in a new music venture- Mary Timony, Rebecca Cole and Janet Weiss. The four women at one time or another have played with either Sleater-Kinney, Helium, Quasi, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, or The Minders- not an unimpressive list. The formation of Wild Flag was an organic process that allowed considerable time for the women to figure out exactly what they wanted the band to be, and what they didn't want it to be. “We wanted to figure out dynamics, hear how the songs breathed in a live context, build cohesion and unity, and emerge as a singular force prior to putting those sounds onto tape” Brownstein says. Explaining the growth process of the band Brownstein explains that Wild Flag always intended to grow organically, never wanting to take for granted that an audience existed based on previous endeavors.”
The foursome quietly released their self-titled debut album on September 13 with Merge Records. The album was recorded live in April 2011 in Sacramento California at the Hanger, a renowned recording venue where Sleater-Kinney had recorded many of their hit records. After listening to the album in its entirety, to say that these ladies play with gumption and confidence would be a severe understatement. They have a natural coolness that comes across in every note they sing, every chord they strum. Drawing considerable inspiration from her Sleater-Kinney days, Brownstein infuses the title track ‘Romance’ with the perfect balance of catchy lyrics and intense drums struts, singing “sound is the blood between me and you”. Seamlessly transitioning into the second track ‘Something came over me’ she longingly sings “I want you here right now”, pulling the listener wantonly into the track. When you really listen to the lyrics of either of these songs, you realize that she is not singing to some ex-lover, but to music itself. The entire album is a love song to the art form that the four women in Wild Flag have based their lives around. In Brownstein’s now defunct NPR music blog, Monitor Mix she said that “music put a weapon in my hand and words in my mouth it backed me up and shielded me, it shook me and scared me and showed me the way; music opened me up to living and being and feeling”. That sense of admiration and respect infuses the rest of the album and is most notable again in Glass Tambourine, “Listen to the music, to the music, before it passes you by, if you don’t lose it your gonna use it” she sings sweetly. It’s a rare treat when you can feel the love that the artist feels for the music they are playing infused through the tracks and directly into your headphones but it comes across loud and clear in Wild Flag.
This album was born not out a desire for success- for the women in Wild Flag have already independently seen plenty of that- but out of desire to play the kind of music they wanted to play. They didn’t even have a name for the band before they started playing live gigs, because frankly it wouldn’t have mattered what they were called, they knew that the songs they were playing would speak for themselves. It takes a certain kind of person to have that much faith in their own musicality, but if anyone was going to do it, it would be these gals. It’s worrying that due to the organic way that Wild Flag formed that we may not hear that many more releases from the band, a fact Brownstein has alluded to in the past. Having said that, if you have the opportunity to see the ladies on stage, then take it, the chance may not come around again. The foursome will be touring the festival circuit this spring and summer and you can catch them at Sasquatch and Bonnaroo.
“Music put a weapon in my hand and words in my mouth it backed me up and shielded me, it shook me and scared me and showed me the way; music opened me up to living and being and feeling”
We are a Calgary based music blog that focuses on bringing you the greatest and latest in good music. Run by three effervescent ladies, we post what we like and hope you like it too! Live, love, laugh, and listen to some good tunes while you're at it. Want to hear a tune? Send us a message - we love hearing your sweet honey voices in our inboxes! If you want to tell us about your relationship with Ladywood fill out our Reader's Poll here.