Lora MacFarlane

LORA MacFARLANE (Laura MacFarlane)
Laura MacFarlane  is a multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter and audio engineer based in Melbourne, Australia.  She is known for her work with Melbourne based band ninetynine, solo performances and contributions to other bands, including drumming with Sleater-Kinney (where she is credited as Lora MacFarlane).  In 1994 she began playing with Sleater-Kinney, and in 1995 went to Olympia and Seattle to tour and record with the band.  She appears as the drummer on their self-titled debut, Sleater-Kinney, on which she also sings a track titled “Lora’s Song”.  She also drums and sings backups on their seminal follow up album Call the Doctor.  (More from Wikipedia)
However, that certainly was not true of all of the female musicians in that time period.  Though I was slow to get the details, I was starting to hear about the rumblings of the “riot grrrl” movement, a female offshoot of punk rock; about all I had actually heard in the early days is the 1992 hit “Pretend We’re Dead” by a band called L7 (slang for “square”).  Singer/guitarist Corin Tucker was in Heavens to Betsy, one of many early riot grrrl rock duos.  The fact that only two people could create such a big sound was a revelation and led to a slew of other two-member rock bands in the years to come.  Classically trained pianist Carrie Brownstein (also a vocalist and guitarist) met Tucker in 1992 and was so inspired by her and other early riot grrrl bands like Bikini Kill that she started her own grrrl band, Excuse 17.  What began as a side project between the two of them became a full-fledged band with the addition of drummer Lora MacFarlane; MacFarlane was replaced by the third album with another drummer, Janet Weiss.  The arrival of Sleater-Kinney’s lo-fi–looking first album in 1995Sleater-Kinney (appropriately released on a label called Chainsaw Records) quickly established them as one of the finest feminist punk rock bands of that period.  Each album brought them greater fame and a more widespread fan base; by the beginning of the new millennium, Sleater-Kinney had enough mainstream appeal that Time magazine named them America’s best rock band in a 2001 issue.  Their 2002 album, One Beat is one of my very favorite albums of the 2000’s decade. 
(January 2013)
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Once Lora MacFarlane (who was originally from Australia) was hired as their permanent drummer, Sleater-Kinney quickly put together their first album, Sleater-Kinney, an indie-rock masterpiece that came out on Chainsaw Records in 1995.  The rough-cut nature of this album only gave a hint of the glories to come as Sleater-Kinney refined and enriched their sound in future albums.  Chainsaw Records had been started by Donna Dresch who was in yet another Pacific Northwest punk rock band, Team Dresch.   


For me, Sleater-Kinney has transcended all of these categories.  Their songwriting is simply brilliant and as varied as anyone I can think of.  What Sleater-Kinney can do with their guitars (and without a bass guitar in sight) is a revelation.  Corin Tucker’s lead vocals aren’t everyone’s cup of tea (they tell me), but they suit me just fine, and those of Carrie Brownstein do as well.  I have little doubt that I have played One Beat more than any other album that has been released in the current century; my second favorite among their albums (at the moment at least) is their first, Sleater-Kinney.  Original drummer Lora MacFarlane performs the vocals on the truly marvelous “Lora’s Song” on that album that reminds me of past UARB Fur.   


(January 2014)
Last edited: March 22, 2021