I know Carrie Brownstein through “Portlandia,” a quirky sketch show she’s been doing with Fred Armisen for the last couple of years. I’m a huge fan of how accurately “Portlandia” pokes fun at alternative-culture so commonly associated with Pacific Northwest.1 What I learned later, only after doing some research on Fred and Carrie, is that they were both well-known before the show even started. Fred, to a perhaps lesser extent, through SNL, and Carrie, probably to a much greater extent, through Sleater-Kinney.
SNL is obviously not very popular in Europe, but the fact that during my teenage years I have never heard about Sleater-Kinney was always a bit surprising to me. Sure, alternative-scene rock bands from Seattle like Nirvana, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam made its way to (even Eastern) European radio stations, but the much larger phenomenon of what’s known as the “Pacific Northwest scene” remained rather unknown, or at least not commonly known. This way one could, as it turns out, live one’s life all through the crazy 90s and only discover Sleater-Kinney in 2012. Oh, and what a fantastic discovery that was.
“Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl” is Brownstein’s memoir, but really it’s a book about Sleater-Kinney, and what it meant being an indie-rock band member in the 90s US. It’s full of personal stories of struggle, yet written in a way that is neither pretentious nor self-loathing. Carrie Brownstein is a very natural and genuine writer, insightful and funny. “Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl” is obviously a book aimed at Sleater-Kinney fans, and as such is most enjoyable for readers familiar with the band, but anyone curious about the independent rock scene of the 90s will find it interesting. I certainly did.
- Ok, so this blog entry really isn’t about “Portlandia,” but please go watch it. It’s absolutely brilliant in every way possible. ↩