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Tiny Desk Premiere: Sleater-Kinney

Sleater-Kinney perform a Tiny Desk concert.
Zayrha Rodriguez
Sleater-Kinney perform a Tiny Desk concert.

For a roughly three-year stretch beginning in late 2007, Sleater-Kinney's Carrie Brownstein reached the pinnacle of a career that has included stints as a rock star, a TV actor and an author. During that time, Brownstein wrote the NPR Music blog Monitor Mix and appeared as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. But she foolishly climbed down from that mountaintop in 2010 in order to launch the TV show Portlandia and the band Wild Flag, among other dalliances.

Last month, she finally came crawling back to NPR. On the heels of Sleater-Kinney's 11th studio album, Little Rope, the band convened at the Tiny Desk to perform two songs from the new record, as well as a pair of songs from 2005's The Woods. Thanks in part to a terrific string quartet — whom the band had just met in what Corin Tucker described as a "blind date" — the Little Rope tracks benefited from a fresh sense of sweep. And the whole show doubled as an exercise in careful balance, as old songs coexisted with new ones, Brownstein swapped the vocal spotlight with powerhouse singer Tucker, and intensity met restraint.

Behind the scenes, the band's presence triggered a kind of impromptu family reunion, as Bob Boilen took a momentary break from retirement to show up and cheer on his former colleague. But on camera, Sleater-Kinney was all business — as wiry and vital as ever. It's too bad for everyone involved that Brownstein no longer works for NPR, but this performance felt like far and away the next best thing.


  • "Jumpers"
  • "Modern Girl"
  • "Say It Like You Mean It"
  • "Untidy Creature"


  • Corin Tucker: vocals, guitar
  • Carrie Brownstein: vocals, guitar
  • Toko Yasuda: keyboards, melodica
  • Angie Boylan: drums, percussion
  • Teeny Lieberson: piano, percussion
  • Nataly Merezhuk: violin
  • Celaya Kirchner: violin
  • Kimia Hesabi: viola
  • Erin Murphy Snedecor: cello


  • Producer: Stephen Thompson 
  • Director/Editor: Maia Stern
  • Audio Technical Director: Neil Tevault
  • Host/Series Producer: Bobby Carter
  • Videographers: Maia Stern, Joshua Bryant, Michael Zamora, Sofia Seidel
  • Audio Engineer: Phil Edfors
  • Production Assistants: Ashley Pointer, Devon Williams
  • Photographer: Zayrha Rodriguez
  • Tiny Desk Team: Hazel Cills, Kara Frame
  • Executive Producer: Suraya Mohamed
  • Series Creators: Bob Boilen, Stephen Thompson
  • VP, Visuals and Music: Keith Jenkins

Copyright 2024 NPR

Stephen Thompson
Stephen Thompson is a host, writer and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist and guest host on All Songs Considered. Thompson also co-hosts the daily NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created with NPR's Linda Holmes in 2010. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)