Sleater-Kinney's music is so intense that the trio has always belonged to something greater than themselves whether they really wanted to or not. Lyrically, they've never shied away from politics -- quite the contrary -- but their anthems have always been of a more personal nature, even as together the three women have made some of the most epic, fiercest rock and roll of the past quarter-century.
Calling it "punk" or "riot-grrrl" is thinking much too small considering what Sleater-Kinney has come to represent today, but that is where their roots lie; specifically, in the early-'90s Olympia, Washington, groups Excuse 17 and Heavens to Betsy. Sleater-Kinney formed in 1994 and recorded two albums on Portland-based Chainsaw Records (including breakthrough Call the Doctor) before jumping to riot-grrrl's flagship label, Kill Rock Stars, from 1997's Dig Me Out through 2002's One Beat. Each album received a warmer greeting from fans and critics than the previous one (as well as a steadily swelling audience); so did 2005 Sub Pop debut The Woods, after which Sleater-Kinney abruptly announced a hiatus.