In an era of prefabricated pop, this group plays music that's totally unpredictable and defiantly uncompromising

Corin Tucker, singer and guitarist for the great punk trio Sleater-Kinney, was talking about the night she crossed paths with the Backstreet Boys. "They were recording in the same studio. It was"--in a perfect mall-rat accent--"we're definitely meeting them. For sure. We met the one, I think his name is Kevin." She was asked whether the pop star treated her as if she were a besotted fan or another musician. "Well!" Tucker said. "Total besotted fan. He didn't see me as a musician at all. He doesn't know who I am. He'd never listen to Sleater-Kinney."

Sleater-Kinney, composed of Tucker, 28,...

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