Rock-Critic Pop Quiz #8: Can You Name All Three Members Of Sleater-Kinney?


For weeks now, our weekly music-writer embarrassment session “Are You Smarter Than a Rock Critic?” has puttered along innocently, proving just how precious little this generation of Wikipedia vampires really knows about Metallica, the Clash, the Doors, Bob Dylan, or the Wu-Tang Clan. But after six loltastic weeks of allowing our readers to revel in delicious schadenfreude, my dear friend and gifted freelancer Caryn Brooks raised a fair objection: All the bands we’ve covered thus far have been exclusively made up of dudes. So this week, we asked 16 music writers:

Can you name all three members of Sleater-Kinney?

To make the results more interesting, I asked only male rock critics, in hopes of procuring some serious commentary about male privilege — and finally putting some quantifiable evidence to the assumption that rock bros are just a bunch of booger-eating neanderthals that can only answer questions about Slayer and baseball. We cobbled a consortium of 16 professional and semi-professional rock critic dudes, all given the usual rules:

1. I will not identify you AT ALL, so it is OK to be wrong. [We will say that our esteemed panel edits magazines, websites, and alt-weeklies. They have written for pretty much every outlet you’ve ever heard of, from Rolling Stone to Spin to Billboard.]

2. You can’t use Google.

The answer and/or some rock ‘n’ roll fun below:

The correct answer: Corin Tucker, Carrie Brownstein, Janet Weiss

Number of critics that answered correctly and got all three: 11

Number of critics that got two: 4

Number of critics that got zero: 1

Most unguessed member: Janet Weiss

Number of indie-hating rap critics who correctly guessed that I was only asking them to juke the stats after everyone else pretty much aced the question: 1

Number of critics who went for bonus points via mid-’90s S-K drummer Lora MacFarlane: 2

Number of critics who share a birthday with Corin Tucker:

Number of critics who bragged about seeing them in 1996: 1

Number of critics who said, “I don’t even like them that much, they just have memorable names”: 1

So, yeah, a hearty congratulations to our panel on the first question they didn’t totally botch. (Short version: Never underestimate the power of indie rock. Shorter version: Shoulda went with En Vogue.) Still, it seems that a few people still need a refresher on the thunderous drumming of Janet Weiss, who became the band’s fourth and final drummer in 1996, providing the head-caving backbeats on their four Kill Rock Stars albums and their especially gnarly Sub Pop bow. Weiss is currently backing Stephen Malkmus as a full-time Jick and is always an awesome interview. To wit: When the Village Voice asked her “Do you know any good drummer jokes?” she quipped, “Aren’t you supposed to ask me if I know any good singer-songwriter jokes?” However, of anything she’s played on, this writer prefers “Alice the Goon,” a 2006 track by her other band, Quasi, whose foot-stomping poundage, frenetic fills, and heavy-funk grooves showcase Weiss at her most monstrous. Of course, no one seems to have ever uploaded that to YouTube, so here’s something from the recent Quasi album that’s pretty nice, too:

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