Saturday, October 6, 2007

Sonic Youth

Sonic Youth have a long and interesting history and discography. They started out in the no wave noise scene in New York in the early 80's. They wound up on MTV in the 90's and then rejected their semi-commercial sound of the time for a weirder more avant-garde approach on albums like Experimental, Jet Set, Trash, and No Star. I'm not sure where they are at now, I haven't heard the last two albums. But at one point I owned every record and single on vinyl. I've seen them live numerous times over the years, the best being an experimental set they did at Bumbershoot in Seattle in the late 90's when the SYR records we released. I'd say they are one of the best guitar bands ever. These are my five favorite records by them in order, with a link to a standout track from each one.

1. Evol

This is an absolutely classic record. It has elements of early feedback driven tribal sonic youth and more melodic sounds of future releases like Daydream Nation. The incredible cover is a still from one of Richard Kern's films. It also has the classic show closer feedback jam Expressway To Yr Skull and one of Kim's finest moments, Shadow of a Doubt. The lyrics on this album are extremely cool.

2.Washing Machine

This record has the coolest song order ever. Who's idea was it to put Becuz first? That song has the simplest riff and the timbre of her vocals is amazing. The song sets the mood of the album that goes on to include the epic Diamond Sea and Thurston's song about Kurt Cobain(i think) Junkie's Promise. There are weird awkward riffs everywhere and this is where Kim started playing guitar a lot so there are three guitars jamming all over it. Contains my favorite jams outside of Hits of Sunshine from A Thousand leaves. Skip Tracer contains a lyric I always think of while driving around the Los Angeles: "L.A. is more confusing now, than anywhere I've ever been to." hahaha

3. Sister

What can I say about this? Another absolute classic. Tuff Gnarl, Cotton Crown, PCH, Schizophrenia, they're are all here. I think this is my brothers favorite, he still has it on cassette. Here is one of the first songs that got me thinking about how fucked up Catholicism is: Catholic Block. When my bro and I met Thurston, Nick told him this was his favorite song. Thurston was stoked.

4. NYC Ghosts & Flowers

This is the worst reviewed Sonic album. Why, I have no idea. It only has 8 songs and features a lot of lyrical poetry and far out song structures. When I first moved to San Francisco in summer 2000, I walked around the mission with this in my headphones. It says a lot about living in a city. The title track, NYC Ghosts & Flowers is also my favorite Lee Ranaldo tune. The cover art is by William Burroughs, whose influence can be heard all over the album.

5. Dirty

I think this was their best selling album due to the amazing videos for 100% and Sugar Kane. This record has a lot of songs on it and they are all good. There are a few songs/references about Joe Cole, Henry Rollins' best friend that was murdered in Venice. Check out Cole's book that Rollins published posthumously called Planet Joe. This record was huge for us alternative kids in high school. This is Purr.

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