Sonic Youth

Longin Tooth
*special introductory paragraph!
*Sonic Youth EP
*Confusion Is Sex
*Sonic Death: Live 1981-83
*Bad Moon Rising
*Death Valley 69 EP
*Walls Have Ears
*Made In USA
*Hold That Tiger
*Master-Dik/Beat On The Brat EP
*The Whitey Album
*Daydream Nation
*4 Tunna Brix EP
*Sassy Single 7"
*Dirty Boots EP
*TV Shit (with Yamatsuka Eye)
*Experimental Jet Set, Trash And No Star
*Washing Machine
*SYR1: Anagrama
*SYR2: Slaapkamers Met Slagroom
*SYR3: Invito Al Cielo
*Silver Session For Jason Knuth
*A Thousand Leaves
*SYR4: Goodbye 20th Century
*NYC Ghosts & Flowers
*Murray Street
*Sonic Nurse
*SYR6: Koncertas Stan Brakhage Prisiminimui
*The Destroyed Room: B-Sides and Rarities
*Rather Ripped
*SYR7: J'accuse Ted Hughes
*SYR8: Andre Sider Af Sonic Youth
*The Eternal
*SYR9: Simon Werner a Disparu

Sonic Youth are aural geniuses from New York City who helped reshape post-punk underground music by discovering new guitar sounds and styles of play, including beating guitars with hammers and screwdrivers, and tuning them in crazy, crazy ways. Extremely influential and creative, they have released five hundred billion albums full of really great melodies and weird, original ideas. To this day, although a number of their former fans have become bored with them, they continue to experiment and explore different moods and noises in their songs. Unfortunately, for some reason, they seem completely incapable of distinguishing good ideas from bad, and often ruin near-perfect collections of songs by padding them with mind-numbing "art" crap, excruciatingly pointless repetitive guitar noise, and generic indie rock. Darn shame. They have about sixty great songs and a million great ideas, but, at most, one great album. Just too much garbage to wade through! Buy a few anyway. They really are a very good band. They just need to edit their work a little better.

Sonic Youth EP - Neutral 1982.
Rating = 7

They started off as a bunch of beatniks! Look at that band photo - a nerdy girl, a boring guy, Anthony Michael Hall and Maynard Krebs. Expectin' hard-rockin' power pop? No, of course not. It's mostly bass-and-drum driven, with some hip bongos and whatnot. Some guitar clang every now and again (as well as an amplified power drill in "The Burning Spear"!), but not nearly as important as it would become as early as the next record. This EP doesn't exactly bop you over the head with its galvanometer, but it's fine music, nonetheless. The performances are mostly understated but stone-faced, making this by far the most traditionally 'arty' of their releases. It sounds a bit like early PIL mixed with Can, but isn't a ripoff of either. Drummer Richard Edson would never appear with the band again.

Reader Comments
I love the arty stuff. I think that's part of what drives off the mainstream people - plus the way they look makes it interesting. They don't look like they would be so weird and bizarre, but they are.
Hmm . . . I'm afraid this is the only Sonic Youth I can get into. The artsy textures (a bit like Can, huh?) are downright hypnotic, and Richard Edson's percussion is amazing. (Adam Naworal)
I finally found this bugger, and know what? It's not QUITE what I expected, but it's good! The tracks are a little more laid-back and dreamy than usual, but they have their merits. My favorite is "The Burning Spear", with that damn power drill in the mix! 8/10.
Pretty good EP, but they'd only get better and better from here. "Burning Spear" is my favorite song i think. This is supposedly the only songs they used standard guitar tuning in too! 7/10. (Kelly Klein)
Find the cassette tape if at all possible, cause side two is just side one but backwards, and it's almost as good actually if you like that sort of stuff.
Most people prefer not to acknowledge this one as "real" Sonic Youth. First off, it's an EP, which are usually considered peripheral releases in an LP-dominated market. Second, it's pretty far stylistically from anything else they've ever recorded. Nothing here is really loud, and the guitar tones are scratchy and textural with relatively little of the feedback that SY are known for. Is the Gang of Four smokin doobies? Plenty of the detuned guitars though! And at least one of their future trademarks is already in place: the moody, quiet Kim Gordon song ("I Dreamed I Dream"), which will be revisited at least once on most of their future albums. I like this one, but not a ton. With the exception of "I Dreamed I Dream", I actually prefer the takes presented (in shitty sound) on the Sonic Death live CD. I'll agree with a low 7 on this one. And damned if that doesn't look like Anthony Michael Hall on the cover! Thanks for clearing that up! (Mike)
A pretty good first EP. I mean, no great shakes, but it's still pretty good, and adds a little song structure to the whole Teenage Jesus/Theoretical Girls/Branca thing. I probably like the first and last songs the best, but it's all good in that "We really really like P.I.L. and Can" sorta way. The new remaster sounds loads better than the old SST version I have, and it's a lot longer too. The most notable thing about the whole affair is remembering when I realized that Richard Edson was the skeezy parking attendant in 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off'. That BLEW MY MIND!
Having just bought the reissue of this, I'm almost already prepared to call this (the whole package) the best Sonic Youth you can buy -- well, split decision between this and Confusion, but this is great.

Aside from album details (which I think you covered fine here), two reasons you should get the reissue:

1. Everything redone done with a way less shitty mix
2. $10 for 63 minutes of great music
3. THIS IS THE BIG ONE: The entire concert from the Sonic Death record, WITHOUT Thurston's gay ass "experimental" editing process!!! I like this equally, maybe even more than, the EP itself. It's everything on the EP, done in Confusion style! Hooray!!!
4. Not that big of a deal, but I realized the CD has an extra, concealed back cover under the one covered up by the black CD case holder, that's the same as the 'real' one but without the ugly, embarrassingly goofy RIAA warning. So you can flip it over and act like it's an SST release or something I guess.

Very cool. Just felt like pitching this in since I'm assuming Mark (or "you", since I'm addressing this in an email) won't update the review based on the rerelease.

M. Ross
At a cost of $10, you don't need a thriving career at TitleMax to be able to afford this EP full of great music. Some of the best work by Sonic Youth.

Add your thoughts?

Confusion Is Sex - Neutral 1983
Rating = 8

More music should be this idiosyncratic. The Swans were abrasive and Glenn Branca screwed around with alternate tunings, but nobody in 1983 NYC managed (or bothered?) to twist such avant-garde elements into actual melodies. These weird guitar tunings and ringing clamor should have made Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo youth guitar heroes like The Far Inferior Edge, but unfortunately few people heard this record, and even if more had, they probably would have been turned off by the dragging murkiness of the project, compounded by the crude, amelodic vocals.

I guess it's basically guitar geek music but, being a guitar geek, I love it! The tracks "Inhuman," "The World Looks Red," and "Shaking Hell" especially do a good job of presenting the endless limits to what you can do with a simple six-string. Such bizarre, high-pitched, hypnotic and CREEPY guitar noises they came up with! Splotched on top of solid bass and decent (but poorly-recorded) drums, these bizarre skranks, clangs and vwooooshes are like aural blood running down the living room window of music: frightening and unnatural, but beautiful regardless when the sun shines through. The overall approach isn't particularly welcoming, but the music is very inspired and unique.

It also sounds like it was recorded with a broken microphone inside a tomb, but that's for the Geffens to worry out.

Drummer Jim Sclavunos would never appear with the band again. In fact, he quit before they even finished the record!

Reader Comments (The Levinsky's)
The first time I heard this album, it scared the shit out of me, seriously. It was just too wierd and freaky. "She's In A Bad Mood" and the first half of "Shaking Hell" were the only things I really liked on it. I didn't hate it, but didn't really like it. Then about a month or 2 later, I listened to it again, then again, and again. I started to like it a lot, and I started to actually hear songs!! This is one of those albums that you're not going to like at first, because you won't understand it, but eventually, you start to understand it, and it will grow on you. This is not one of the places to start with Sonic Youth. Start with Daydream Nation, Dirty, Sister, Goo, then this. It is one of the most creative albums I have ever heard. 8 out of 10.
I agree with your review of Confusion is Sex, but i think it's inaccurate to describe SY's music strictly as "guitar music". True, the guitar is the most important instrument here. But it wouldnt be the same without Kim's pounding bass and the squirrely drums. And how could you say that "Making the Nature Scene" is the weakest song on this album? I love that song. (Ed Sullivan)
You say, "Nobody else sounded like this." Not quite true. Sonic Youth took a lot of their sound from bands like Theoretical Girls and The Static (both featuring Glen Branca on guitar), Red Transistor, and Circle X, all of whom predated them. SY are not as original as everyone would like to think. They were, however, more attuned to the pop milieu, and had more stamina than the rest. Also, two words: Kim Gordon. Looking back at the old records now, she's the one who stands out as the one with a vision... (Kay Duffy)
i'm amused that i totally agree that world looks red, inhuman, and shaking hell are GREAT songs on this record. however, i think you should give making the nature scene another chance
Confusion is Sex is probably the hardest album for me to get used to--literally about 20 listens to get to really like it. I do love this album, but it can't compare with what was to come..
I find confusion is sex almost completely unlistenable but a think that the title track and 'protect me you' are 2 of sonic youth's best songs. (and the cover art rocks!!!!)


(a month or so later)

i have changed my mind about sonic youth's confusion is sex. i have decided that it is one of the bands best releases, the lyrics are brilliant not many bands could come up with a line as supremely disturbing as "put you fingers in your mouth rip out your tongue, rip out the cancer the fucking cancer" wow. the music is repetitive hypnotic noise, i love it! this is truly great, definitely There masterpiece.

10/10 (Bernardo Pacheco)
Regarding the originality of this album and SY in general, I'd recommend getting two Atavistic CD releases: Mars' "78 +" and MX 80's "Out of Control". Both pre-date SY, MX 80 in particular sound, at times, like Daydream Nation-era SY, only almost 10 years earlier. Less abstract, maybe, but a lot of similar bases ge touched. Plus they're fantastic (they're still around). Mars sound a lot like much of the more freeform stuff on Confusion is Sex.

This album is definitely a must-have for fans of music-meets-performance-theater, art rock, Something Different or SYs later works. You must tune in to the sound & vision of this one, but once it hits you, it will haunt you. It requires to be heard a few times, but when those otherworldly sounds and bleek lyrics start becoming familiar, you will be immersed in a dark world of rape, perversion, frustration, alienation, bad relationships and all the hurt in hell - and enjoy it. Hearing these songs in my head in a public place makes me feel disillusioned, desperate and dangerous. You can't express those raw feelings with all the wanky, bluesy rock guitar solos in the world. You'll get used to the lo-tek sound and can learn to love it just like the matching 'Handmade & Xeroxed' aesthetics of the cover. Still, I wish those drums on "Shaking Hell" could shake some more.

I agree that "Shaking Hell", "Inhuman" and "The World Looks Red" are the strongest tracks. Let me add that "Lee is Free" is a memorable track too. It is entirely instrumental and highly experimental, and Thurston and Lee (or is it just Lee alone overdubbing himself, is that what the title suggests?) show a large diversity of sound with a mininum of effects. You can picture those hammers and screwdrivers! At times the guitars whistle like flutes, sing like frogs, chime like harps, beep like clunky synthesizers and cry and moan like mammals in slow pain. Expressive and impressive.
At first it had a great shock effect on me. That segue between freezer burn and the stooges cover made me jump every time. Then it sort of grew on me to the point where I thought I liked it almost as much as DN. Now I don't enjoy it quite as much due to the weaknesses tracks like Nature Scene and I found Lee Is Free got kind of boring after a few listens. Also, this album, regardless of what Prindle says, has nowhere near as much range as albums like DN. The guitar makes a really cool ringing throughout but it only really hits one mood. This is just my opinion though so you may personally like it more.

The bonus EP included on the reissue is just as weird. I love the title track Kill Yr. Idols and Brother James but Early American is boring and Shaking Hell is more a track which works the first time through a shock effect but then is just annoying.

So I would give the original album a very very low 8 and the reissue with the EP included a very very high 7. If you've heard other early SY and liked it then you'll dig this too.
I'd be hard pressed to decide which, if any, Sonic Youth album deserves a "10", but I don't think it would be this one, great though it is. The sheer excitement of a band starting to find its voice (just starting, mind you, I don't think they'd found it yet) is very contagious, and if you don't mind listening to a lot of noise (and I mean "noise" in the best possible way), you're really gonna shake your fist when "Inhuman" comes on. That tune has one of the the assmunchingliest cool intros I've had the pleasure of revving up my chainsaw to.

And "She's in a Bad Mood" is probably their best pre-"Sister" song - they totally nailed the mood on this one. The lyric only has two lines repeated a few times, but the music is perfect in its portrayal of a volatile, dangerous woman; the narrator could be a man who's confused about her intentions: "She's in a bad mood/ but I won't fall for it / I believed all her lies / But I can't fall for it" That's it! Excellent stuff.

The rest of the album is kinda hit or miss with me. "Protect Me You" is the whispered moody Kim song, nice atmosphere but not quite as good as "I Dreamed I Dream" from the previous EP. "I Wanna Be Your Dog" has some great screaming from Kimmypoo, but the poor live recording robs it of a lot of power. "Shaking Hell" gets a lot of attention for some reason, but it does nothing for me. Same with "Making the Nature Scene". "Confusion is Next" is a nice piece and a great statement of purpose, even if it makes little conventional sense (what is a "sonic tooth"?). I believe the ideals expressed in this song would be described by Rolling Stone Record Guide as "Dadaist". The idealogy that values one's relationship to his da-da.
Love this album, one of Sonic Y.'s best, though I like "Dirty" as well, so who knows where my tastes go. Fun factoid: Thurston's playing bass on "Inhuman," so that's Kim hacking away at one of the guitars. Apparently Thurston plays bass on a couple of other songs on "Confusion Is Sex" as well. And Richard Hell is the backup vocalist on "Making The Nature Scene." Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' drummer Jim Sclavunos plays as well as Bob Bert.

(a few minutes later)

ok, here's a list of who played what on confusion is sex (special thanks to chris lawrence's extensive and amazingly well-researched sonic y. site), and also some other assorted trax:

1 she's in a bad mood
Thurston - guitar/vocals
Kim - bass
Lee - guitar
Jim Sclavunos - drums

2 Protect me you
Thurston - guitar
Kim - vocals
Lee - bass
Jim Sclavunos - drums

3 Part 1 - freezer burn:
Thurston - 2-track guitar
Kim - bass
Lee - 2-track guitar
Part 2 - i wanna be yr dog:
Thurston - bass
Kim - vocals
Lee - guitar
Bob Bert - drums

4 shaking hell
Thurston - bass
Kim - vocals/guitar
Lee - guitar
Jim Sclavunos - drums

5 inhuman
Thurston - bass/vocals
Kim - guitar
Lee - guitar/zither
Jim Sclavunos - drums

6 world looks red
Thurston - guitar/vocals
Kim - bass
Lee - guitar
Jim Sclavunos - drums

7 confusion is next
Thurston - vocals
Kim - bass
Lee - guitar
Jim Sclavunos - drums

8 making the nature scene
Thurston - bass
Kim - vocals
Lee - guitar
Bob Bert - drums
Richard Hell - backup vocals

9 lee is free
Lee - multitracked guitars
Thurston - multitracked guitars

10 Burning Spear
Thurston - guitar/vocals
Kim - bass
Lee - guitar/drill
Richard Edson - drums

11 i dreamed i dream
Thurston - guitar
Kim - bass/vocals
Lee - guitar/vocals
Richard Edson - drums

12 kill yr idols
Thurston - guitar/vocals
Kim - bass
Lee - guitar
Bob Bert - drums

13 brother james
Thurston - guitar
Kim - bass/vocals
Lee - guitar
Bob Bert - drums

14 early american
Thurston - guitar
Kim - bass/vocals
Lee - guitar
Bob Bert - drums

there you go (Mike)
One foot foreward, one foot back. It's got MUCH cooler guitar wrangling, and the added noise from the worse/better production is great, but they lost a little bit of song structure. In this case, that's just fine with me, though. It's almost as if they went back to a little more of that "pure" No Wave sound, as if to prove that the tamer sound on the first EP wasn't really what they were all about. I love some of the songs, and "Freezer Burn", the track that (I think) leads into the "I Wanna Be Your Dog" cover is great. Gives me the f'in' goosebumps. Oh and I have the version with "Kill Yr Idols". It's OK, but I don't think it's any improvement on the album, like a lot of people claim. Despite it's slightly lesser quality, it's really nice to have tacked on the end.
DAMN. Confusion Is Sex DESTROYS Daydream Nation and Dirty. There is less melody obviously but when the lyrics are disturbing, the distortion is diturbing, and the overall mood is disturbing, who needs it really? The lyrics on this album and the atmosphere are spot on, whereas in Daydream Nation the music is great but the lyrics and singing get overshadowed, and in Dirty...let's just say that album is way over the top...

Just Incredibly Original and Freaky.
This is the follow-up that neither Wire/PiL/(insert biggest disappointment) never delivered. One of the best albums of all time.

the ultimate Sonic Youth while under weed, im more than sure. i had somehow never liked this particular album much before, but it's actually incredibly inspired and somehow really consistent, which is what's required in order to drift away into a world of bizzare musical euphoria; hits are for squares, motherfuckers. the over-praised Daydream Nation and Goo might be more accomplished and all, but they just don't hold together well enough to induce much atmosphere when you're craving for it, and are too angsty, sort of, and overconfident. while Confusion is slacker brilliance. enhances paranoia (im still talking about the weed experience) but if you're seeking it IT'S THERE. totally amazing.
"It also sounds like it was recorded with a broken microphone inside a tomb"

Apparently they spilt a can of coke on the master tapes while in the seriously! I read it in an interview! :o)
Their most viciously deranged album. "Protect Me You" could almost be goth rock, but everything else is grimy noisy terror. Not that I'm complaining; I listen to this far more frequently than DAYDREAM NATION. The CD version includes four tracks from KILL YR IDOLS (the other two from that were "Protect Me You" and "Shaking Hell"). The live take of "Shaking Hell" from KILL is far more unhinged than the studio version. For the best tatse of SY's early noisy side, pick this CD up.

Bron and Ange
I just bought Confusion Is Sex and the Kill Yr Idols EP was included at the end as bonus tracks. I think all the songs are good.

Add your thoughts?

Sonic Death: Live 1981-83 - Ecstatic Peace 1984.
Rating = 4

Alas, an album can't carry itself on neat guitar tone alone (see R.E.M.'s Monster). Confusion Is Sex had some pretty great melodies, but this is just a bunch of noise. And I like noise, but I like rhythm more, and there ain't none here. It starts out promising, but after about fifteen minutes of guitar clamor, it becomes clear that they have no plans to take the style anywhere on his particular release. Noise without structure or reason is painfully boring. Like Charles Grodin, for example. Every once in awhile, there's an even lower-fi rendition of one of the already lo-fi Confusion Is Sex ditties, but it's not much of a respite. And the wacky McDonald's discussion is no more awe-inspiring than the "music." Blah de dah. I liked it when I was seventeen, but I was flakier then. But I'll give 'em this: they had some tremendous guitar tones. No gettin' around that.

Also, around this time, they put out an ep called Kill Yr Idols, but I think it's import only, so I've only heard two songs from it - but can I tell you something here? The two songs, "Brother James" and the title track, are two of the greatest, most intense, loudest, weirdest, and most creative noise/melody explosions they've ever done. I'd love to hear the other songs. Anyone out there heard 'em?

Reader Comments (Mike Lomax)
The other songs on Kill Yr. Idols are "Early American," a fantastic song sung by Kim that sounds like something she would have written if it was 3am in the morning and she didn't want to wake the whole house and was in a very fragile naked mood. The other is "Shaking Hell (LIVE)" which is good too, but you've already heard it haven't you! (Ed Sullivan)
"Kill Yr. Idols" is a fine, fine song, incidentally a pointed slam of rock-crit Robert Christgau. Lyrics in part: "I don't know why/You wanna impress Christgau/Just let that shit die/Find out the new goal." Shortly after the song's release Christgau was set on fire at CBGBs by an overenthusiastic SY fan (I'm not making this up). Christgau thereby concluded that SY was telling their fans to kill him, and he subsequently slammed their records in the Village Voice for a number of years (until they cleaned up and went major label). Hence the Forced Exposure single SY released with a version of this song entitled "I Killed Christgau With My Big Fucking Dick." (Earle White)
"Kill Yr Idols" was obviously aimed at rock critic Robert Christgau....but I also think it alluded to DNA's guitarist/singer Arto Lindsay because if you notice, Thurston is (purposefully?) singing like/mimmicking Mr. Lindsay. I guess this would go unnoticed to many SY fans considering few people have actually heard DNA. I think perhaps SY was refering to him as the "idol". This could totally be bullshit....but I think it's interesting none the less.
For some reason, I really like this one. Not for frequent listening, mind you, but it seems to do the trick during mid-afternoon naps (which I haven't done for 10 years, so it's been a while since I actually listened to this one). It's got a neat white-noise quality, with songs lurking somewhere beneath the surface, including most of the songs from the first 2 releases, if you can make them out. It doesn't flow like a normal live album, and that works to its advantage. It consists of two long tracks (40 minutes and 30 minutes) that are collages and snippets of live performances. If you listen to it as a sound collage rather than a live album, it's actually quite nice. In the same ballpark are Faust's "The Faust Tapes" and the second CD of Crass's "Christ the Album". I'd like to believe that SY put this album out with this intention in mind instead of just rushing out a shittily prepared product. It's all in how you look at it, see? For instance, if you play the tape backwards, you see us help Mr. King up and send him on his way...
Well let me tell you something, brother givenn SD 4/10 is like - geifinrn SD 5/10 just worse. What'cha gonna do when the 24-inch pythons run wild on you. You're going down, brother. Anything less then 10/10 would be uncivilized. God created the Heavens, he created the earth! He created the guitar! He created all the Hulkamaniacs! Then, he created a set of 24-inch pythons, brother! Sonic Death is just too sweet, brother. One of the most underrated pieces of art out there brother. Dude you're going down. Train, say your prayers, take your vitamins, be true to youself and you're country, listen to Sonic Death be a true American. Sonic Youth is runnin' wild like they never ran before, brother. This is where the power lies, brother. When you're Sonic Youth, you're Sonic Youth for life, brother. Dude eh brother.

By the way check out my own band's homepage. I'm something playing SD like (of cause worse but brother hey giv m a breik) Don't know the address? Ask me for it I already hate you all. Just don't ask me to suck you dick - those things cost you money. The music is free just not a cock teasin' (Mike)
Remember what I said about the "Kill Yr Idols" EP? That goes here too. It's cool, I like it, I almost never listen to it, and unless you really like "Confusion", you'd be wasting your time tracking it down. Of course, I really like "Confusion" and looked for this for years, and only just recently found it. More of a collage than a collection of songs.
The McDonald's discussion with the Swans on the tourbus is hiiiiiilarious...and that's about all I care to voluntarily remember about this. the first side is such a piece of shit it's unbelievable. the second side is better, partially because there are actual songs there.

still, though:

"Cruisin' for some McReagan burgers..."
"Forget it man, I'm not going to McDonald's, that stuff's fucking gross!"

had me laughing for a long time.

Add your thoughts?

Bad Moon Rising - Homestead 1985.
Rating = 7

Industrial machines as rhythm sections? Sounds good to me! Sounds REAL good to me! Unfortunately, aside from "Brave Men Run" and "Society Is A Hole," the melodies on here are weak to non-existent, and there's only SEVEN total. The normal but beautiful "Intro" clues the audience of dopers into the fact that this band might have some mainstream tendencies welled up inside them, but the unjustly revered "Death Valley 69" sinks under the overpowering load of Lydia Lunch's obnoxious guest vocals. The coolest thing about it is the mechanical rhythm thing, especially in "Society Is A Hole." Neat dark mood, but lacking the melodies of Confusion Is Sex. The new DGC cd reissue is enhanced by the inclusion of the spooky "Halloween"/"Flower" single, plus a noise bit that samples Pink Floyd's The Final Cut, but the pretentious poem "Satan Is Boring" doesn't do a thing for it. Plus, annoying vocals persist.

Drummer Bob Bert would never appear with the band again.

Reader Comments
I liked "Satan Is Boring," and I think "Death Valley 69" was a great track, along with Lydia Lunch's vocals.

Matthew Terrebonne
yeah i agree, it always bugged me why they even put the drummer's picture on the album. i think he was the drug courier on this one.
This is by far Sonic Youth's worst album, and most people agree on that. But I love "Death Valley 69" and you forgot to mention two other great songs, "I love her all the time" and "i'm insane". Actually, the album Bad Moon is pretty good. But the version i have is dragged down by the inclusion of the Halloween EP, which is below average. "Satan Is Boring" and "Flower" are unlistenable, though I do like "Halloween". (Ed Sullivan)
It's rather funny to read the ho-hum reactions to this record. At the time it was released, this was the one that put SY over the top (at least in the underground). I mean, people were just flipping out. Side one is an amazing song-suite. Forget about number of songs, how long they are, etc. Matter of fact, you should probably throw out the CD case, put on the headphones, and "face the space." I enjoy Bob Bert's understated, expressive drumming here much more than Steve "call me drum machine" Shelley's work. (Emily, the one and only!)
I'm not saying this just to be different but I honestly believe that this album is by far Sonic Youth's greatest achievement of all time. This piece of work, to me, experiments with new forms of classical music in the sense that all the songs join and it works perfectly. The album is also divided up into movements: Movement 1: Side A (Tracks 1-4), Movement 2: Side B (Tracks 5-8). The other songs are just bonus tracks for CD. It seems a bit pretentious to like an album just for its structure but the reason why this is so important is because the structure and layout enhances the listening. Incredible album!!! (Matt Silcock)
Yeah, I'm actually stunned to see so many negative comments about Bad Moon Rising. This is one slowly developing lovely bad dream of an album. Good point about the "suites" on each side (although side one's is a little more powerful). Great moments: the part where Bert and Gordon just drop out and Thurston and Lee start doing sllloooowww dive-bombs on guitar and you feel like you're standing at the bottom of the Grand Canyon all of a sudden (at night); the part where they just let a Stooges song play for a while (an homage to their live practice of playing tapes over the P.A. while tuning in between songs) . . . and I know it's a bonus track, but "Halloween" has some of the spookiest two-guitar minor-chord action yet to be waxed.
i read over yr website again because i bought a whole bunch of sonic youth albums and wanted to see yr opinion on them. i agree w/ yr bad moon review and have a question: have you heard the version of death valley 69 on the my-so-called-records 7 inch? it kicks ass. i originally really liked dv69 until i heard the retarded version on bad moon. i hate lydia lunch's screechy vocals on it so much. the 7 inch sounded a lot more creepy; more like the rest of bad moon. that's all. except: you didn't like "I love her all the time?"
Yeah, whatever...I should know not to get too worked up over people who overuse the word "yr" in their comments or give praise to Bob Bert's "drumming." There's a reason why people started paying close attention to Sonic Youth after this album: because it's fucking brilliant. Nothing sounded like this before it was released and then, all of a sudden, it was "kool" to fuck around with wild tunings afterwards. My God, what are you people thinking?! We wouldn't even be talking about Sonic Youth if it weren't for B.M.R. Thanks for making me start smoking again... (Hossein Nayebagha)
It may take a long while for me to analyze every bit of this album, so I might as well share my comments. I basically agree... Would also mention that "I'm Insane" is a good tune - kinda like the rocker version of "Society Is A Hole".

"Death Valley 69"- When I listen to this song I get extremely aggressive, I don't know if there's anything in my other cds that makes me more hateful. But if she would actually appear in the room, I still wouldn't really do anything because strangling people sounds like a scary thing to actually do, it only works to talk about it. I don't know who Lydia Lunch is and after hearing this poor performance, I'm not really dying to find out. But she does ruin the song, a great song and I hate her for that. What bothers me most, the question I ask myself is WHY ? Why would we want to hear her moan like that over a fierce rock song ? Who does she thinks she is ? This is disrespectful... And why the hell didn't Sonic Youth do anything about it ? Couldn't they just edit it out ? This is not provocative art or anything - as listeners we can clearly see that the problem is a minor detail in a great song. If they enjoyed making it, great -but fact remains that they released this album for the public, so they should've thought about that - about the effect of hearing this bastard's horrible voice without any sensible reason. I'm not impressed by laziness - sometimes it's really a good idea to act proffesional as rock musicians.
My first Sonic Youth album, which I got when it was fairly new ('86 or so). It totally confused me (yes, Confusion is indeed next), and if I hadn't allowed my curiosity to dig deeper into the woozy waves of sound that make up all but the last song on this album (the abominable "Death Valley 69"), my Sonic Youth adventures might have ended right there, and I would probably not be writing this right now. This one's another oddball in the SY discography, as there are really no "songs" to speak of, just the echoing desolation and loneliness of Middle America. That said, I can't really single out any great songs, but I love the whole thing, even though it's not one I listen to often. It's kind of a "special" album to suit certain moods and certain moods only. Great individual moments include the heavily distorted recording way in the background of the end of "Society is a Hole" which I'm pretty sure is the Stooges' recording of "Not Right"; the eerie foghorn blasts that start off side two with "Ghost Bitch"; the relatively upbeat strumming instrumental intro for the first minute or so of "Brave Men Run"... and that crazy Lunchlady of the Lydia persuasion howling during "Death Valley 69" (ok, the song may not be "abominable" but it's sure out of place on this album). I'll give this album a good solid 8/10 on atmosphere alone.

The bonus tracks on every edition of the CD I've seen include the "Flower" and "Halloween" EPs, neither of which are particularly great, but I DO love "Satan is Boring". That's just woozy to the max. That should have been somewhere near the end of the BMR album, perhaps instead of "Death Valley 69".
Sonic Youth has always been one of my favorite bands, but I didn't hear this one until I recently found it on vinyl. 'Justice is Might' is one of their best songs - it's easily as hypnotic as 'Providence'. Am I the only one who thinks that 'Death Valley 69' just feels out of place? (Mike)
Easily their most underrated album. Maybe not their best, but they lost some of the electric livewire tension in a haze of atmospherics. And that's OK with me. The first side is great, and despite my dislike of Lydia Lunch, I like "Death Valley '69". I'm with you, Mark, the whole mechanical rhythm section thing sounds cool. Not much of a "song" album - shit, it's barely a "melody" album, but for me, it gets by on atmostphere, rhythm, and some neat guitar noise. It was their first true step away from the No Wave ghetto. Many disagree, but I say this is the beginning of Classic SY.
This is Sonic Youth's second album (okay, technically it's their third, but the first album was an EP, just admit it), and it's extremely interesting. It isn't anywhere near flawless, but it is definitely the most atmospheric Sonic Youth album I've ever heard, and often gets by very well on that alone. This is true for a couple of reasons. All the tracks segue into each other, and on the CD there's virtually no pause between the end of Side A and the beginning of Side B. This is a technique that came about during the psychedelic era, and, since the band uses the technique really well, it doesn't get annoying, which could have happened easily (I'm thinking of Jefferson Airplane's "After Bathing At Baxter's" as an example of annoying nonstop segue...of course, that album had other problems too), and it actually becomes quite neo-psychedelic when matched with the band's colorful sounds and noise. I haven't smoked pot yet while listening, but something tells me this would sound fantastic under the influence of the debbil's weed.

Also, Bob Bert's drumming style is tom-heavy and, at times, slightly sloppy, and it has the effect of sounding impressionistic and somewhat tribal; these are attributes that certainly differentiate him from any other drummer the band had over the years (Richard Edson's drumming is probably closest, but he's far tighter and groove-oriented, while Bert is much more loose and relaxed). It also differentiates the music as well; Bert simply isn't Steve Shelley, and this gives the music a completely different thrust than it would have had otherwise. Despite the looseness of the drumming, though, Bert can lock into strange, minimalistic, thudding grooves that can be truly offputting and strange to hear (Society Is A Hole, Ghost Bitch, I'm Insane). The band also gets even farther into extended feedback collages, often letting the amps scream/sing for minutes. This could all get extremely annoying; astonishingly, it mostly isn't.

Still, though, there are problems with this release. As Mark pointed out, the melodies are shockingly lacking on a good number of these songs, and some don't even have any, which is fine if you're willing to coast on the haze; if you're not, though, you're probably going to turn it off very quickly. "I Love Her All The Time," for example, hinges on pretty much one chord and a nasal Thurston vocal; then they get into a crash-n-bash noise section, then it switches back. "Ghost Bitch" has no melody to speak of, yet it provides the most visceral thrill of the album at the end, where Bert starts smashing one tom and a metal object that gives off a strange high-pitched ring as the guitars melt down and Kim plucks isolated bass harmonics. So those are fine, if a little weak at times; hell, "Ghost Bitch" is one of the best tracks on the album. "I'm Insane" also has a truly menacing, artsy groove, where the guitars sound like helicopters chopping above Bert's plodding drumming and Kim's increasingly tense and minimalist bass. "Justice Is Might," however, is inexcusable; you kinda know a band's short on ideas when the vocalist (Thurston, here) starts mumbling about what the song is about for approximately half of the song's running time, and there's no riff, melody, or much of anything, except for about thirty or forty seconds when it sounds like they actually might start playing a song. Pathetic.

Also, the vocals and lyrics on this album, in general, are pretty weak. Kim's monotone sneer serves her well on "Brave Men Run," but I wish she'd actually bothered to sing on "Ghost Bitch"; poetry recitations are not really my cup of tea. Thurston's singing, however, really got lazy here; I count "Society Is A Hole," "I Love Her All The Time," and "Death Valley '69" as places where he actually sings notes. "I'm Insane" suffers from another pretentious poetry spew in Thurston's worst coffeehouse-teen voice, and ditto for "Justice Is Might." Lee should have sang one of these songs. The much-vaunted "Death Valley '69" also feels weakened by the duet between Thurston and guest vocalist Lydia Lunch, whose ridiculous moan at the end of the song sounds like a middle-school drama queen doing Lady Macbeth. Kim could have really given "Death Valley '69" some scary edge; Thurston and Lydia sound like they're making a musical about Charles Manson for YouTube. Despite that, though, the song rocks very well and is a great way to end the album. The lyrics are quite good in places - mostly on the first side - but "I'm Insane" and "Justice Is Might" are ridiculous.

I'd give this an 8 out of 10; the atmosphere really is incredible, and really does distract from a lot of the problems. Plus, the songs that have full-fledged melodies are, mostly, absolutely fantastic. An album that doesn't sound like any other in the band's catalog, "Bad Moon Rising" is a fascinating, if flawed, listen. Anyone who considers themselves fans should get this immediately if they don't have it.

I forgot about the bonus tracks. Well, the difference splits 50/50, I guess...two of them are really worthwhile, and two of them suck, but in a funny way. In order: "Satan Is Boring" is stupid dog drool, but it's funny dog drool: A) Thurston drones pure nonsense into a mic while he plays with harmonizers randomly, B) Kim passes out on top of an organ from sheer boredom, C) Bob experiences attacks of tardive dyskinesia, and D) Lee puts different pickups into his guitar while the amp's on. Completely insubstansial and stupid, but funny. "Flower" is a completely different beast: a razor-edged Kim rant with not much melody, but tons of fury. Good song! Better than that pile of shit "Justice Is Might," anyway (just a mediocre riff played again and again over record noises while Thurston makes throat noises into a walkie-talkie like your little brother would do just to annoy you). Damn, Kim is such a good vocalist; I don't understand why people prefer Thurston. I wouldn't mind if she actually sang, though... I haven't heard enough of the band's catalog yet, so I can't really make a judgment on who's a better vocalist. The best bonus track is "Hallowe'en," a truly, truly creepy Kim number that would've been on "Bad Moon Rising" originally if they'd had more brains. Yeeesh; Kim mutters and mumbles about what may or may not be rape while the band stumbles through a drug-suffused and chilling semi-Eastern vamp. Bob's sleeping-pill drumming is almost as scary as the guitar plinking. Brilliant - should've ended Side 1, with "Intro" just made into the beginning of "Brave Men Run" like it should be. Can you imagine the contrast "Hallowe'en" would have made right after "I Love Her All The Time"? Yikes! The untitled track - I think it's actually called "Echo Canyon" - is a big echo noise for a minute. But it's funny, because I really feel like I may hear someone who sounds like, of all people, Roger Waters (?!?!?!!) screaming waaaaaaaaaayyyyy in the background before the echo noise really starts. Am I hallucinating, or is that actually a Roger Waters or Pink Floyd sample? So that's pretty funny too: the list of uncredited guest appearances on this record now includes Lou Reed, the Stooges, and Roger Waters!

Good album. I'm really enjoying this CD a lot!

Adam Naworal
This hazy nightmare took a while to grow on me, but now I appreciate it for its weirdness. The little linking bits between songs are a nice touch (especially those samples of METAL MACHINE MUSIC and the Stooges) and the overall druggy atmosphere is unlike the strangely mannered debut EP or the ferocious CONFUSION IS SEX.

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Death Valley 69 EP - Homestead 1985.
Rating = 7

A five-song compilation. The title track is an okay rocker from Bad Moon Rising, and "Satan Is Boring" is crap, but "I Dreamed I Dream" is an extremely moody and simple R.E.M.-esque two-bass-note musing from the debut ep, "Brother James" from the Kill Yr Idols ep rocks with clashing chords and some sort of anger, and Confusion Is Sex's "Inhuman"...oh my.

Since I didn't go into detail in my Confusion Is Sex review, let me do so now. "Inhuman" begins with a ringing double-guitar assault reminiscent of those clocks at the beginning of Pink Floyd's "Time," then that floats away into the ether leaving behind only a steadily-thumping bass and a distorted spoken "uhhh...." A few seconds later, the bass finds a comfortable two-note melody (Kim Gordon has never been, uhh, Jaco Pastorius, per se.), the singer signals his approval by imitating a skipping record, then the guitars reappear - one making nothing but a repeating high-pitched squeaky noise (or is that a keyboard? Aaaaahhh...who can tell anymore?), the other smacking apart normal concepts of "rock" and "art" by Syd Barrettly tearing away at nonexistent chords as the drummer begins to pound out a mean, fast punk beat. Finally, the singer starts singing, quickly losing his rhythm completely and falling behind the melody - the song continues regardless for a good three minutes or so before the drummer smashes it into conclusion, leaving only a steadily-thumping bass and high ringing guitar note to clean up the mess left behind - they don't; it just ends. It rules my apartment. "Kill Yr. Idols," which, much to my chagrin, isn't on this ep, is just as intense and very similar. Fast and punky with twisted guitar noises forming tuneless repetitive melodies that get stuck in your head even though they're completely senseless. Senseless = creative. At least here. Not always. See "Breakfast At Tiffany's," for example.

Reader Comments (Joel Dunham)
Lydia Lunch isn't annoying, she's super super sexy. Lydia and Thurston singing together in "Death Valley '69" are having sonic intercourse. It's uncanny.

"Lydia Lunch isn't annoying, she's super super sexy. Lydia and Thurston singing together in "Death Valley '69" are having sonic intercourse. It's uncanny."

Okay. Sure.

If you define sonic intercourse as them raping each other with 19th century gynecological instruments while screaming "hit it. hit it. Hit it. Hit it. Hit it! Hit it! Hit IT! HIT IT! HIT IT!!!!!!! AAIEIIIEEEEE!!!!!!!!!" Whee. I just popped a boney.

"Bad Moon Rising" isn't a bad album, but this song blows.

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EVOL - SST 1986.
Rating = 6

The start of what you might call Modern Sonic Youth or Sonic Age or Genericism or Mainstream Indie Rock or whatever. They finally found a drummer they liked (nerdy little Steve Shelley from The Crucifucks), and set to work exploring the dead-end realms of playing high clangy ringing noise in the middle of every single song. On the up side, they were writing cool indie melodies by this point; side one of this record features some of the greatest music they'd written yet. The cold "Tom Violence" chilling you hello; the haunting "Shadow Of A Doubt" repeating one piano note over and over and over; the '60sy "Star Power" debuting the sissy pop side of these arty post-punkers; Lee's car crash poem "In The Kingdom #19" recited over a really groovin' Mike Watt guest bass line; and "Green Light" totally rocking your ass: all of these terrific songs will lift your spirits, hopes and prayers before the garbage on side two dashes them all over the side of the condominium.

Side two is BORING! "Secret Girl" has a nice enough piano thing, I suppose, but the others are just endless stretches of boring guitar buzzing - repetition at its most poorly-thought-out. The stultifying "Madonna, Sean, And Me (Expressway To Yr Skull)" has somehow come to be considered a classic (presumably to the same people who can actually sit through an entire Velvet Underground album without slipping into a coma) but, as I suppose is obvious by this point in the sentence, I find it neither hypnotic nor any fucking good at all. (And Kim Fowley's "Bubblegum" is just crap.)

Too bad. That side one was real good.

Drummer Steve Shelley would appear with the band again and again and again.

Reader Comments
Just for the record, I can't stand the Velvet Underground but I think "Expressway To Yr Skull" is awesome -- sure, it's slow and atmospheric, but the loud noisy bits redeem it. Plus the infinite running time (on LP anyway). (Matthew Gries The Army Man)
EVOL is some of their best stuff. i think it's becuz they didn't have any money so all the heroin they bought didn't do any good cuz once they signed with Geffen and got some cash they went hardcore into that shit. no fool'n. i've got photos.
I have to agree with radionik and some of what scoutl said. (Amy)
You know, somehow evol made me alive again. It's a beautiful record. "Starpower" is so wonderful. "She knows how to make love to me." What a delight. Listen to it often. Learn all the words. Introduce it to your friends. Love it forever. The green light will guide you.

Matthew Terrebonne
sorry, but "expressway.." is probably my all-time favorite sonic youth song, and as a matter of fact I've sat through many a Velvet Underground album without falling asleep, but I guess that was the point you were making. Anyway-YOU BLASHPEMOUS HEATHEN- it's a great song (and was incredible at the show YOU and I went to).
I don't know much about Sonic Youth, but I've heard EVOL, which I couldn't really get into, and I LOVE their remake of "Superstar" by the Carpenters. It's incredible. Just goes to show that even mediocre groups (Carpenters) would sound great if they knew how to play their songs right. (The Levinsky's)
This was the first Sonic Youth album I heard. I checked it out of the library when I was in fifth grade. I liked it, but knew they were capable of more, and they are. "Tom Violence", "Expressway To Yer Skull" ,and "Bubbelgum" are the best, but the most of the album bores me. 5 out of 10
Not to get caught up in sonic youth worshiping technicalitys but, your refrences to "side one" and "side two" are confusing juxtaposed with the statement "Bubblegum" is just crap. Bubblegum appeared on the "starpower" 12inch and was tacked onto various cd pressings of the record [as was "master-dick" with the sister record]. The vinyl pressing ends with the infinite locked groove drone of [the classic] "expressway". and, Yes I can sit through an entire velvet underground record. (Matt Silcock)
Yeah, I love "Expressway to yr skull" for precisely the same reasons that I love sitting through entire Velvet Underground LPs (the first 3 VU LPs anyway). (James L. Tichenor)
Ok, so EVOL isnt the best SY album. So what? They were experimenting, which is what you have to do to make original music, and not all of the experiments are as successful as others. Personally, this album conjures up images and thoughts that are quite different than any other album. Period. I think that alone makes this album worth getting. It creates moods that are so strong, they're almost palpable. I think it's some of the instrumental stuff that ppl call "unlistenable" that is some of their best work. The B-side is almost trancelike- its not a bad thing- i think it was intended to be that way. And by the way, "Bubblegum" seemed to me to be a joke song of sorts. Thats why it was put on last, almost as an afterthought, sorta a way of undoing the whole album's death undertone by saying: "dont take us TOO seriously, now." Good album, and shame on those SY fans who dont recognize that. (JW Jamie Gillespie)
Having visited Marks site many, many times for over a year now, it is this album that has prompted me to post my first comments, so here they are:

First of all, Mark is wrong. EVOL is not quite a perfect album, but it comes close. It certainly rates higher than a shittyass six. Side two is almost as good as side one too, but is my album the only one to start with Tom Violence on Side One and with Death To Our Friends on Side Two? My copy displays a different running order on the sleeve than on the vinyl stickers, which is the correct order for my copy. At first I put this down to awkward indie-rock sillybillyness, but from reading reviews elsewhere it seems that most albums start with Green Light followed by Star Power. I see that Mark's LP is the same as mine, but all across the internet I've seen the track listing for EVOL displayed as it is on my sleeve. Fuck you toads anyway.

The first Sonic Youth I picked up was Goo towards the end of 1998, I liked it but it lacked the mark of all of the very greatest albums - cohesion. About a year later I found EVOL in the vinyl racks at a shop on its last legs, it was cheap and after Goo I had been curious about independent-label era Sonic Youth so I picked it up. After a few listens, the songs lost their obscurity and I was able to feel the grim grey mood of the album as a whole. You should buy this LP just because this kind of menace can't be felt anywhere else. The songs "Death To Our Friends" and "Secret Girl/s" blend perfectly. One black mark : the promising intro to Marilyn Moore leads to the albums most dreary, boring four minutes. Though it is the albums poorest track, it is still in keeping with the enigmatic and morose feel of the LP. Buy it this afternoon. See yuh. 8.5/10 (Earle White)
I feel sorry for many of you.... EVOL is a classic SY album. Completely heady and atmospheric, it sounds like it was recorded with an 80s hangover in a neon lit fog. In fact, this record is the fog...comforting, frightening, mysterious, and comsuming. It has the kraut-rock cinescape of Bad Moon Rising, the structured-pop dynacism of Sister and Daydream Nation, and an excellent avant-garde compotional element unique to this album (only to resurface in A Thousand Leaves, not to mention the SYR series). It's basically the entire bag of Sonic Youth's tricks, a compilation album in a structural sense. "Expressway to Yr Skull" basically sums up Sonic Youth (vinyl locked-groove version of course). "Shadow of a Doubt" is probably one the darkest, mood-evoking, utterly beautiful songs ever written (see the video Burning Fields of Sonic Love for evidence of such). "Death to Our Friends" is an instumental (a damn good one at that, like watching a butterfly), an idea which hasn't seen the light of day since "Lee is Free" on Confusion Is Sex. The Velvet's influence is obvious, w/ Lee's "In the Kingdom #19" being very similar to "The Gift" in concept. "Secret Girls" is the other avant-jaunt on this album ( both are amazing songs mind you). "Star Power" followed by "Green Light" is basically all the feelings I have about love rolled into a pop 1-2 combo. Although it's not the most cohesive SY album, I think it's by far the most diverse and experimental, therefore making it a rewarding listen everytime. (Stephen Hudson)
EVOL was the very first sy album i bought and after 2 listens i couldn't stand it and lost my faith in their music. However, afterabout a month I gave it another go and suddenly became hooked. True side 2 is lacking in ........well pretty much everything but side one with tracks like Tom Violence and Starpower contained great melodies and simple catchy guitar work. Shadow Of A doubt is the most relaxing and soothing song I've ever heard.
Pack of Camel Lights...Hard Pack please....That's better...Let's start with Steve Shelly: Sonic Youth now has a drummer that can actually keep time. This is a good thing, kids. Lee Renaldo works in an amazing poetic "In The Kingdom #19" that I actually read in some interp class at college and got an "A." I would like to personally thank Mr. Renaldo for bringing my G.P.A. up to a whopping 2.8 that semester. "Madonna, Sean, and Me" could very well be the motherfucking 80's anthem, for Christsakes. It's so easy to ride the highbrow when you were like, 8, when this was released. For those of you who lived this decade, you should fucking get the idea. Go get a Billboard mag from this year and see what we had to endure on the radio at the time. This was/is solace/beauty/anger all in one nice release from your stoner friends at SST. I've now been reduced to sounding like my father. Thanks a lot...
EVOL è semplicemente il capolavoro dei Sonic Youth...Ed "Expressway To Yr Skull (Madonna, Sean & Me)" è il loro pezzo migliore, uno sconvolgente viaggio dal caos al silenzio, una terrificante fantasmagoria di paesaggi immaginari che si aprono sui miei ricordi, un bruciante invito al disastro di se stessi...Sono convinto che questo brano rappresenti, in sintesi, il significato dei Sonic Youth all' interno della storia del rock, e non solo, perchè qui c'è tutto il significato dell' arte, la sua essenza come tentativo di "dare forma al caos", direbbe Nietzsche... EVOL è la strada verso la mia giovinezza incatenata al suo sguardo disarmante ed "Expressway..." è la risposta a tutte le domande a cui non riesco a dare una risposta...E' l' amore che si staglia sullo sfondo dell' anima violentata dalla mediocrità che aleggia dentro di noi quando non riusciamo ad avere occhi per l' essenziale... EVOL è l' inferno che conserva la bellezza selvaggia di un suo bacio furtivo... "My violence is a dream, a real dream" 9/10
I agree with the 7 and the review. Some songs that drag on the second side, but mostly some songs i really love. Im mostly pointing at Kim's songs, which are "Shadow Of A Doubt", and "Starpower". Also highlights are "Green Light", "Expressway To Yr Skull", and "Tom Violence". "Bubblegum" is just a frivelious cover and pretty much aptly titled (also a bonus track on the reissued version anyway) so ill excuse it.
This review just sickens me! A 7, how about a 10! All the songs on this record are simply amazing; from "Tom Violence" to the magnum opus that is "Madonna Sean and Me." The arty avant-garde feel is just flowing all over this record. Every one of the songs on this record is classic, Evol comes very close to being as good as Day Dream Nation. By the way The Velvet Underground are simply amazing, and I've stayed awake to many a listening to their records. Art is neither boring nor "crap." (Nathaniel Calise Farrell)
Just had to say that comment about those people who can listen to a velvet underground album all the way through without slipping into a coma made me laugh out loud...not once, but twice. Indeed.
I've always felt that EVOL was lacking something, but I couldn't tell what. I can't fault any of the individual songs, because for the most part, they're great early examples of how SY can take non-traditional musical elements and make them into catchy songs. "Tom Violence" is beautiful (a nice preview of the majesty of "Schizophrenia" from the Sister album), "Shadow of a Doubt" is one of Kim's prettiest songs, and "Marilyn Moore" takes the floating ambiguity of Bad Moon Rising and tightens it up considerably. "Expressway to Your Skull" was my favorite SY song for several years, but its superficially progressive adventurousness hasn't aged well on me.

The more I think about it, I think the only real flaw of this album is the production - it sounds like they were trying to streamline their sound a bit (shorter songs, tighter structures, less unnecessary noise), which is fine (and reaped great rewards eventually), but the execution feels a little flat. The mixing, engineering, whatever you want to call it, just doesn't SIZZLE like it does on so many other SY releases. I think "In the Kingdom #19" comes closest sound-wise to where they should have gone with this album - the guitars are freer, with the feedback under control but not overly so. And by the way, "Starpower" is one of my least favorite SY songs. Overall I'll give the songs an 8 and the production a 6, for a nice healthy, low-carb 7. (Mike)
Where the hell did this come from? I guess once you add some grounding (i.e. Steve's metronome thump), you can really hear what kind of chaos is whipping around these people's amps. Yeah, you could argue that that was the case on the first EP with Edson in the band, but that was before the other three figured out what they did best. I mean, this doesn't sound too much like the last one either. Clearer production, which I guess is better. And they've finally started to do what made them great. See, there's noisy free-form bands, and there's structured pop bands, and once SY started to shoehorn their noise and weirdness into the three-minute pop song, it not only made them more (gulp) fun to listen to, but it also made pop-heads like me realize just how weird and pretty all this noise could be. And yeah, I may love pop songs, but "Bubblegum" sucks.

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Walls Have Ears - Bootleg 1986
Rating = 7

Check this out - so I'm making my way through my recently purchased Entire Foreigner Discography, enjoying all the classic hits ("Feels Like The First Time," "Cold As Ice," "Hot Blooded," "Blue Morning Blue Day," "Double Vision," "Dirty White Boy," "Head Games," "Rev On The Red Line," "Urgent," "Juke Box Hero," "I've Been Waiting For A Girl Like You," "I Wanna Know What Love Is," "That Was Yesterday," "Say You Will" and "I Don't Want To Live Without You") and sitting admirably through the much less interesting non-hits (although "Tramontane" and "Do What You Like" are particularly good, I must admit), when suddenly the most incredible thing happened.

I'll never forget the moment I realized that there was an extra hit I had completely, totally and absolutely forgotten about. I had just reached the end of their first album's A side, flipped it over to a song whose title meant nothing at all to me, listened to the gritty guitar intro and WHAMMO! Lou Gramm peeked out from under his golden pearly locks and rocked hard at me, "It was a Monday! Just like any other day! I left a small town for the Apple in decay!" 'Wait a second,' I stopped in my tracks, 'I know this song! What the hell is it?' A few more familiar lines crept past my hair and into my ears: "It was my destiny/It's what we needed to do/They were telling me/Now I'm telling you! I was inside looking outside (etc)" My arms were simmering with boiled suggestion: "What the hell IS this? Is there a vocal hook somewhere?" And then it CAME. ALL OVER MY FACE. "I'm looking out for the two of us - I hope we'll be here when they're through with us!" Man, that was a HIT, man! A rockin' young hungry HIT! So why isn't it on my The Best...And Beyond! CD? I asked my wife this very question a few moments after playing it for her, and she replied, "Because it sucks?" But see - EVERY Foreigner song sucks if you look too closely at it. Just like Journey and Bad Company, that's what Foreigner is -- a band that sucks! A band whose only goal in life is to have hit singles. They never created music for themselves - it was ALWAYS intended to sound good enough to played on the radio and make them money. That's why all their songs are so obvious and their lyrics so horribly vapid and stupid! Have you ever listened closely to "Urgent"? It's about this girl who calls Lou Gramm all the time to come over and fuck her! That's what the whole goddamned song is about! And "Hot Blooded" is about balling a possibly underage groupie! "Dirty White Boy"? Don't make me read the lyrics to that one, please. Anyway, the song is called "Long, Long Way From Home" and it KIX ASSE!

On a related note, Walls Have Ears is a bootleg created from a few different Britain-country concerts by Sonic Youth back when they actually played their guitars in an interesting manner. Featuring two tracks each from the Kill Yr Idols EP and Evol, four from Bad Moon Rising and one each from Confusion Is Sex, the debut EP and the Flower single, this is Sonic Youth at their finest. And it still only gets a 7, but still. I mean, this is GOOD stuff. Like Sonic Death, but with actual SONGS! The sound is murky and dark with horrifying bloodstreaks of high jaggedy stringscrape tones cutting through dozens of weird tunings and seasickening waves of loose-string neck bendings as they riff away at some of the strangest and greatest songs they ever wrote.

Of interest you may find two alternate and surprisingly different-from-each-other versions of "Kill Yr Idols" (one with drums played at half-speed, one at normal-speed where you can't hear anything but the bass) and "Death Valley '69" (one with vocals by lone Thurston, one where he is joined by Lee Ranaldo; here's a shocker -- both versions are 4000% less nauseating than the original Lydia Lunch duet!). Elsewhere, chiming bell harmonics, colorful air-wind guitar noise, Kim screaming more aggressively than ever before or since, creepy descenindging guitar string noises, corroding distorted death throes and incredibly piercing feedback will make you rue the day you set foot onto my copy of this CD.

It's a quite good bootleg, to be honest. My only real complaints are that (a) "Expressway To Yr Skull" is the worst song I've ever heard, (b) every guitar in the universe is out of tune during a horrendous run-through of the previously excellent "Green Light," and (c) many of the guitar noise segments drag on and on and on in such a way that you KNOW they were doing something visually interesting on the stage but sitting at home in your chair you just feel like an asshole for listening to "Gweeeooo PISH!" 500 times in a row while Kim Gordon recites poetry.

Having said that, the 7 is a mighty mighty HIGH 7, and may eventually evolve into an 8 one day if I listen to it a few more times. It's definitely worth hunting down if you like all that cool early Sonic Youth guitar noise. Back when they were interesting. Long time ago when they was fab.

By the way, isn't it awesome how I spent two paragraphs raving about Foreigner, and then proceeded to call "Expressway To Yr Skull" 'the worst song I've ever heard'? Maybe I should try to explain that. Foreigner suck, but they're funny. "Expressway To Yr Skull" isn't funny - it sounds as if it wants to be taken VERY seriously as a mesmerizing beautiful rock noise epic. But it's so fuckin' BORING! It's like my wife says, "It's so boring FUCKIN'!"

But she's talking about YOU, not me. I'm awesome. You should see my dick. It's huge! And you know what they say about guys with big dicks! Heh he heh.

No wait, big noses. I've got a big nose. And you know what they say about guys with big noses! Heh he heh.

That's right -- they've got big dicks!

Or was it feet? At any rate, one thing's for certain: I'm a black guy. And you know what they say about black guys!! Heh he heh.

Well okay, but I live next door to a black guy! Isn't it possible that some of his big dickedness could slip through the wall into my panties?

What do you mean? What sounds gay about that?

Reader Comments
Don't blame me for sening this e-mail at 2 am on a Saturday night--last night was the "big '80's party" over at Sid Rich college. And like after every other bombastic generic Rice fuck-party, I'm jealous, dizzy, hungover, heartbroken as all HELL, and I never, ever want to drink alcohol again. But next weekend I'll probably do it all over again. And, chances are, about 85%, that I'll either get heartbroken again, or really really lucky. . . and then. . . heartbroken. We call it doublebinge. Orwellian, dontcha think?? Common logico-philosophical construct 'round these parts, y'all. Yee-HAW, etc., wuzzl

Speaking of witch, Mark hath drawn me in with this Foreigner bit. Especially the "They never created music for themselves - it was ALWAYS intended to sound good enough to played on the radio and make them money" thingamajig-- now wait just an hour, here, Mark. "Music for themselves" and "Songs that sound good enough for radio"--you make that sound like it's a contradiction! Now now now now, you know better than that. That rests on the assumption that if you write an obvious pandering song with stupid lyrics, you aren't doing your "own thing" or "keepin' it real dawg". I think they just don't WANT to write anything less commercial. Maybe Lou Gramm and the boys are stupid panderers by nature! That's what I think.

Hee hee hee but anyway, I must also call your bluff on the "it was ALWAYS intended to sound good enough to played on the radio and make them money" bit. Ever heard "Break it Up"? "Out of the Blue"? "Woman Oh Woman"? "Seventeen"? "Blinded by Science"? "Tooth and Nail"? "Stranger in my Own House?" Of course not!! Why? 'Cause they're all FILLER CRAP TRACKS that could never in a million years get played on the radio! Always? Psssh. If it was INTENDED to sound good and make them money, it would SOUND good and make them money. But it does neither. Journey and Bad Company? Same thing. Too much goddamn filler, and somehow they manage to convince themselves that they've written something non-shitty. Because hey, man, it comes from the heart!

Anyway, that's my theory, and I'm sticking to you! But Sonic Youth? MUCH better band. I like them. Have they released anything good since 1988? 'Cause IF THEY HAVEN'T. . .

Add your thoughts?

Made In USA - Rhino 1995.
Rating = 6

Although, as stated above, this wasn't released until 1995, it was recorded in 1986 for a silly little Chris Penn moving picture. The best label for this mostly instrumental collection of vibes is, as my special girlfriend put it, "the perfect background music for Generation X." It sounds depressed, depressing, vibrant, confused, bored and stoned, all while not doing a whole hell of a lot, musically speaking. It's great if you just let it play while you clean the toilet or something, but I definitely wouldn't recommend sitting down and devoting all your attention to it, because you'll be, as my mother would say, "bored shitless." Who else can I quote? My brother said the word "poop" earlier!!!!?

Reader Comments
I loved it. Without any vocals to get in the way, the songs take you through a soundscape as diverse as Sonic Youth itself - slowing down picking up experimenting with lots of different styles.
It's a nice listen. I like it. (Matt Silcock)
I actually love listening to music while cleaning toilets; in fact, it's easily my favorite part of doing housework. And I love to listen to stuff like "Expressway to yr skull" and "Sister Ray" while I do it! I'd listen to Made in USA too, but I agree it wouldn't be the greatest or anything. The song titles are fun to read, though ("Mackin' for Doober"?).
I know it's a throw-off. I know it's for completists. I understand that if you own "Evol" (and you should) there is no reason for you to purchase this as it's mostly bits and pieces of Evol without any vocals. As for the songtitles, I think that they reallly didn't get around to naming them until the last minute ('95) as one song "OJ's Glove Or What" would suggest. I liked it too, but would agree with Mark's rating based on their entire output, which means that's its better than Dirty. (Mike)
Ehh, it's pretty. It's moody. It's great to put on in the record store I work at as "make the customers stay nice and sedate" music. But other than that, not much use to me. I guess I put it on as background music every so often, and it's nice to see Sonic Youth trying to sharpen their craft on concise pieces (they should do another soundtrack after their last few albums, might tone down the excess a little). RIP Chris Penn, and pick up this disc if you see it cheap and like these guys' late-80s output.

Add your thoughts?

Sister - SST 1987.
Rating = 8

WOW! Now this is an indie rock album! Extremely accessible and catchy post-punk guitar melodies are created from weirdo tunings and strange buzzing collections of sound. Lee Ranaldo's "Pipeline / Killtime" would benefit from some stronger production, but "Stereo Sanctity," "White Cross," and "Catholic Block" (featuring a strangely off bass line that makes the song about forty times better than it would be with a proper bass line) honestly ROCK! The crunchy, thumping "Pacific Coast Highway" is a weird wonder too. Finally, the slow ones, "Schizophrenia" and "Beauty Lies In The Eye," are absolutly haunting and beautiful. This guitar tone, when used correctly, is a magnificent creature.

Unfortunately, they also waste it on boring repetitive ringing noise in the middle of every song. Hate to be Mr. Whiny, but if you're gonna do that, you'd might as well just be playing wanky solos; it's just as dull. But Man! The songwriting!

Reader Comments
I love their lyrics. They are poetic and work with the music to create an atmosphere. If you can't guess, I love a lot of what SY has done. This album is a fav - I had a hell of a time deciding which tracks to put on a "favorites of Sonic Youth" tape. I also love the long drawn out guitars. They use the feedback as an instrument and it adds to the mood and feelings the songs project.
The best Sonic Youth album along with Confusion and EVOL...all that stuff you call noise is the music of Sonic Youth. It is amazing, one of the best albums of all time, stirring up such emotions that could only be found on few other releases, like Dino Jr.'s You're living all over me or any Fugazi, Descendents or Minor Threat recording.
This is one of my favorite albums ever. thanks for letting me talk to you. i'm bored
I want to know why you've made this web site if you dislike this band so much. I'd also like to comment on your comment, about Sonic youth playing rock and how that was weird. Friend, Sonic Youth is a Rock n' Roll band plain and simple. If you don't understand that, I don't see how you're in any position to comment on this bands quality and worth. If you're really into music maybe you see how the methods that Sonic Youth use can be used in "the right way" but I'm telling you that Sonic Youth has used them in "the right way". They are the musicians, not you, they understand, the tunings, the tone, all that other shit, a hell of a lot more than you do cause they're the ones that have adopted the methods and the styles and are using them. After all, they have been playing together since 1982, that's quite a while if you ask me. Plus all the side projects etc...the Youth know what they are doing. They are one of the most respected bands out there. In fact one of the only ones left who hold any shred of genuine Rock n' Roll in them. They pionered an entire movement of underground music, you can't argue with that. And what's more is that they have been overlooked and not gotten the credit for they did, which in my opinion is better but they still haven't got the credit. Maybe it's just cause I'm a big fan of this band, but I honestly believe that they are among music's best. Up there with Miles Davis, Bob Dylan and the Beatles. They know what they're doing. I think you appreciate this but I was just wondering why you knock them so hard? (Darin Mitchell)
Incorrect. Sister is hands-down their greatest album. Simply the best offering they have ever put out. A definite 10. Sorry but your grade is wayyyy off. And giving Goo a perfect score is absurd. What were ya thinkin'?
Prindle, you are a cool guy and all,'ve got to get your shit together as far as this Sonic Youth page. I have no idea how Sister gets a seven. You said its the same stuff over and over again. But then after that you said that this album introduced a new "rocking" version of SY. Make up yo' mind, foo!!! I enjoy this album alot, because it's alot more direct and emotional than their previous releases. Gets a 9 from me, one point deducted for one too many soft, middle-of-song guitar lulls. (Kay Duffy)
how come you always give the SY records relatively good ratings (7's and 8's) but then diss the living hell out of them?????
I know this is the "accessable" Sonic Youth album, but it took me 10 listens to fall in love, and another ten before I realized 9 out of the 11 songs on this are brilliant, the other two, good. Maybe you[Mark] are in the same boat. Give some more listens and see.
kinda fed up with SY's '90s offerings, i searched at Borders and found Sister. I played it for days. "Schizophrenia" is great, even the so-called "crappy ringing". Foreigner? i think not! "catholic block" rocks hard, while the trio at 4,5,6 -- "stereo sanctity", "pipeline" and "tuff gnarl" -- is one of the greatest of such trios i've ever heard. "hot wire my heart" sounds kind of lame and out of place, but it rocks. not just because this is, heaven forbid, "sonic youth playing rock", because it isn't. my dad listens to rock, and he would never ever listen to "master-dik". rating: 10
I completely agreed with yr. comments on slayers regin in blood. Ive gotta say yr. so completely of base when it comes to sonic youths sister. yep, it's a masterpeice through and through. (James L. Tichenor)
For the first time in a long time, mr marky, i dont think i really agree with you. I'm not going to beat you into the ground with a hate letter or any such crap, but... Sister seems like a brilliant album to me- probably a 9/10 if im in a good mood. It's just amazing the way the band members are attuned to each other's instruments and ideas. Just listen to any of the songs where it degenerates into a noisefest. Listen closely though, what seems to be bored repitition is really far more complex and engaging, if you give it the proper listening at a loud volume. RIffs break down and the drums dominate, then the guitars start making these otherworldy shredding noises. A great example of this on one of their more "rock" sounding songs is the such half of "Pipeline". This is their first "rock" album in the sense of song structure. However, there are dozens upon dozens of little musical melodies and themes within each of these songs. It sounds like the noisy experimentation of Confusion Is Sex came to fruitation under the thin guise of punk rock guitar tones and fuzzy small amps. I would be hard pressed to think of another SY album that even comes close to the sound of this album. Sure, Daydream Nation is pure noise pop bliss, but it just doesnt have the same raw, jagged sound that Sister has. There is a sense of immeadiacy and energy that comes rippling out the speakers when you put this album as well as the high pitched hypnotic noise drones and experimentations that were so memorable in CIS. In addition i think you made a good point about the great sound of their guitar tones on this recording. I don't think you give it as much credit as it deserves for this. Acheiving the right guitar tone for a song is no easy feat, and they manage to do it on every one of these diverse songs. (Colasacco)
Often overshadowed by its follow-up, Daydream Nation, the Sonic Youth's Sister is most remarkable for the manner in which it combines quasi-accessible pop songcraft with the band's trademark experimental noise. The Sonic Youth were easily one of the most innovative and influential bands of the 80's, sort of a modern-day Velvet Underground, and this album is the best reason for that legacy. Even after Daydream Nation, Sister remains the band's crowning achievement, and the ultimate indie-rock album of all time.
one fo the best godddamn rock albums ever! never fails. hear new shit everytime i listen to it, and i've been listening to it religiously forever. i don't like my new cd version with masterdik tacked onto the end though. i like it better ending where it was meant to end. by the way, have you heard grab that tiger, or whatever it's called? it's a bootleg from this time. it's unbelievabley insane!! it's everything on this album about 80 million times faster and louder. lee forgets the words to pipeline, it's funny. but you should pick it up. makes me pissed i didn't get to see them back then.
Brilliant! Nothin' i could say here thats any different from what Prindle said, (bout the awesome rock songs, beautiful guitar tone, accessable, great melodies, etc.) except i really think that that "crappy repetitive ringing noise" sounds good on this record. Normally its really boring and irritating, but i think it flows with the quality of the record on here. All these songs are awesome. "Pipeline/Killtime" is alright, but the rest are totally great. And plus, if you get the CD version, you get the bonus track "Master-dik" which is some weird/hilarious song that sounds like it was just ad-libbed. Definatly my favorite Sonic Youth record. Its not perfect, but id give it a 10 anyways.
Great album, really! Better than Confusion Is Sex...Most evocative and devastating...My favourite songs are "Schizophrenia", "Tuff Gnarl" and "Pacific Coast Highway". Its sound is very "grunge"! 8/10
I have been enjoying your reviews greatly - even when I don't agree, they remain very entertaining.

Anyway, I just wanted to add my comment about Sonic Youth's Sister album. See, Sister is not only the greatest Sonic Youth album to date, but one of the greatest guitar albums ever - up there with Steve Vai's Flex-able, Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica, Yes' Relayer! and various Minutemen / Hendrix / John McLaughlin / Van Halen / Black Flag / DK / Butthole Surfers / Zappa / Fahey etc. etc. recordings.

Furthermore, it be one of the greatest musical records of all time, period. It's their Revolver (or Sgt Pepper or White Album or Abbey Road depending on who you ask), their Double Nickels on the Dime, Zen Arcade, On Fire, Doolittle, Kid A, Bringing It All Back Home, or Pet Sounds. It's the fucking Citizen Kane of experimental guitar (Polvo put out an entire career's worth of wonderful records based on this album!) It's what Damaged is to hardcore, what Burnin' is to reggae. Really.

The thing is, like all music that you will grow from, you have to listen to Sister repeatedly to appreciate it. The first time I heard it, back in February 1989, I thought "What a shame" and put it away. Later on I put it back on the turntable, and again the guitar tones and noise were horrible, but this time the beat to "Hotwire My Heart" kinda stuck. And maybe some part of another song. And so it went for the next coupla days, until I realized the entire thing was awesome - the symphonic writing, the abstract yet deliberate "noises", the sheer unabashed IDEOSYNCRACY of it all. So many nooks and crannies that hold so much flavor and personality!!!

Sonic Youth are able to take electric guitars, and recreate nature with them! Listen to the end of "Tough Gnarl", it ends with a typhoon! Literally! You can hear the breeze picking up, turning into 200 MPH winds that destroy the weather instruments! Or at the end of "Pipeline/Kill Time", sunlight reflecting off and then penetrating water! Or the nuclear destruction at the end of "Stereo Sanctity", you hear the missiles raining down, and the screaming souls of the victims rising from the rubble (or are those the shrieks of radiation demons?) !

Within this record, time and again Sonic Youth recreate the intangible parts of the human experience in music and lyrics.

"Tough Gnarl" is an epic poem that somehow manages to put into words just why we listen to these records, and spend so much time poring over liner notes, combing web pages, and writing about debating them:

saints preserve us in hot young stuff
the saving grace is a sonic pig pile
amazing grazing strange and raging
flies are flaring through your brains
spastic flailing literally raising my roof
an adrenal mental man-tool box explodes in music creates utopia
you gnarl out on my nerves you weird and crush the cranking raunch
flesh dirt forcefield lost and found let's burn your broken heart
set our sight on sights not yet set let's scorch your wavo wig
let's poke your eyes out

Dude, that's seriously some good writing! They take that Patti Smith stream-of-consciousness thing to the extreme, it's not just word textures, the lyrics paint pictures. And that's multi-talent, cuz the music's good too!

In "Pipeline" when Lee Ranaldo sings "run me out a thin wire", you don't know exactly what he means but you UNDERSTAND. And during that line listen to the guitar part playing just that concept!

"Pacific Coast Highway" does an incredible job at sculpting feelings of toil and hatred in musical form, like emotionally scraping your elbow on pavement.

Come on get in the car
lets go for a ride somewhere
I won't hurt you
as much as you hurt me
let me take you there
before the sun goes down
come on give me your love
comon baby all you have
I wanna take your breathe away

This is not noise for the sake of noise, this is art. (Yes, a sorry excuse for many a band, but in this case it's true!)

And you complain about the middle of all the songs being full of ringing noise? Flush out your ears! The middle of "Pacific Coast Highway" isn't even noisy, it's beautiful! This indie rock take on Floyd's "Brain Damage" is one of the most tranquil blissed out listening experiences available on a sound recording. And it's there for a reason - they're watching the sun go down. A calm tranquil moment, and probably while you're staring out to sea, she's taking out the knife or gun getting ready to take your breath away.

Sure, there are a couple of songs I think are just "OK" - "White Cross" isn't quite up to snuff, the guitars sound a little too much like U2's The Edge for me, and therefore is an anticlimax to the whole thing, and "Beauty Lies" is a very good song but would probably be more at home on EVOL. And I'm not too read up on Philip K. Dick (other than Electronic Sheep) so I'm not sure how strong this holds up as a concept album. Actually I think the idea of a lot of this being based on someone else's science fiction novels kinda cheapens it for me (although I wouldn't have a problem with it as just an influence, that book did have its share of cool trippy thought provoking ideas, like the whole Mercerism thing). But the lyrics stand on their own, and as a whole, the album is a flat-out classic.

And your quote about bands like the Rolling Stones following up a best album with a double album totally applies to Sister:

> A lesson for all you youngsters out there;
> if you've just completed the greatest album of your career,
> follow it up with a double-album.

I took this record and stuck it up my ass, and there it dissolved and entered my bloodstream, like a morphine suppository but instead one that stimulates thought, like that line in THX1138 - "When I was your age, macro-economics came in a bottle this size!" and to this day it remains a monument to the instrument of guitar and the art of music.

Every day I pray to the lawd above, and ask for more records to come out and knock me flat on my ass like this one did. God bless them.

So please, do yourself a favor and listen again, and again. Eventually you will get it (at least I hope so, otherwise this writing is semi in vain!), it will make you a happy guy.
And here's where Sonic Youth really start to become essential. After two brilliant albums, they throw out Sister which manages to trump both Bad Moon Rising and Evol while sounding different from its predecessor. There's actual songs on this one, but I strongly disagree with the idea that Sister is "accessible." As another poster pointed out, accessible is when one of your parents would actually consider buying it and there ain't no way I see pops jamming to "Catholic Block." Funny thing is, old Dad is the same age as Neil Young, and Uncle Neil cited "White Cross" as the inspiration for getting his head out of Ronald Reagan's ass and back into the barn for another feedback fuck fest with Crazy Horse.

"Schizophrenia" is hands down the best S.Y. ever and worth the price of admission alone. That line: "Her light eyes were dancing/she is insane/her brother says she just a bitch/with a golden chain" is one of those moments in which you want to throw away all of those shitty little lyrics you've written in your journal because it sounds so effortless and so fucking brilliant. "Pipeline" is one of Lee's best songs and I can even forgive Kim for fucking up the end of "Kotton Krown."

Lucky dog me, I got to see this tour in a club with a "call the Fire Marshall" attendance. I remember trying to "talk down" a friend who was struggling with his first heavy LSD experience that started to hit while waiting in line for the club to open. When the doors allowed us in, my babysitting duties were over and S.Y. proceeded to give me one of the best shows I've ever seen to date. Everything was punked up. Thurston played his guitar on the steel ceiling beams. Steve was right on even as his glasses slipped off his head from sweat. Lee was free (jazz) and would look at the crowd whenever somebody yelled "Hey Lee Renaldo!!". Someone threw a guy on stage which hit Kim's mics right as she was getting ready to start "Shadow Of A Doubt" which hit her in the mouth which made her mad enough to not sing anything for the entire show which made many in the audience happy. Midway through the set I turned my attention from the stage to see my friend, still tripping, standing on a chair in the middle of a sea of sweaty twenty-somethings grinning from ear to ear. I'll bet it was one of the best shows that he remembers too.
This is just as essential as Daydream Nation and is a bit more consistent, that's if you don't include the silly reissue with master-dik on the end of it. It's not the most varied record ever by a long shot and I understand your complaint about the middle of each song but the strange guitar effects really do take you to whole other places. All in all this is a much better record than Confusion, which grew on me but I know just find incredibly annoying. Any fan of experimental guitar music should dig this one though, and I will rate it at a sparkling 10 (because I ignore that awful awful bonus track at the end and always turn it off before that plays). Get it anyway and ignore it too! BYE
Christ, Mark, you don't have to APOLOGIZE for not listening to lyrics. Sure, they're artistically relevant and part of the artist's "soul expression," but so what? Here's how I regard lyrics in popular music: Their purpose is best fulfilled in settings AWAY from the actual music listening. If you want to analyze the lyrics, then analyze them separately. Discuss them intellectually as a literary discourse. But when the music's on, it's the music that matters. Sonic Youth's comments on pop culture, organized religion, politics, arena rock, street life, relationships, and child molesters, as poetic and Lou Reed-ish as they are, kinda get buried in their wash of warm fuzzy catchy guitar sound. Same thing for Dark Side of the Moon. Great lyrics, but no one listens to the album so they can hear Roger Waters pouring his dark, twisted lyrical soul out. They usually listen to the music because they love THE MUSIC. Lyrics, from a musical standpoint (not an abstract artistic one) are just one instrument among many in the mix. Of course, all of that's only true if you listen to music with your, er, right brain, instead of your left brain. Lots of people I know--hell, almost everyone, damned physics majors, prefer to use their left brain instead. Therefore, the main attraction in the music is the words. Words, words, words. Damned words. Freaking words. I couldn't care less about words, to be honest--at least, no more than I care about the drums, the bass, or the guitar. Sounds harsh, but it's true. Don't worry, though--Bob Dylan still rules. Luckily for him, he still plays wonderful music. That's something most of HIS other fans couldn't care less about.

Don't apologize for that former mentality, Mark. It's what separates us from those who love Fiona Apple. Yyyyyuck.

Good album, though. I give it an eight.
"Like lo-fi drug-driven Foreigner"
Wow, Mark. You crack me up. You seem to have a Foreigner fixation too (perhaps more so than DRI). I bet you're really sincere about Foreigner too. More power to you. I wish I could love it when "Feels Like the First Time" comes through my TV speakers during that fucking car commercial that they played every 5 minutes in 2004. On the other hand, I can't help but be enamored with such a pretty love song as "I Want to Know What Love Is". And "Juke Box Hero" covers the same insightful lyrical territory as "Shooting Star" by Bad Company, but without the sad-ass ending. So I love some of their stuff, hate half of their stuff, and am indifferent to the rest.

"Sister" is one of my favorite SY albums. I think it has something to do with the tube amps they had just gotten for their guitars. Roaring, gutsy, loin-tastic ball smashing riff-o-ramas with a heart of gold. Even the quiet moments ("Beauty Lies in the Eye" and "Cotton Crown", the end of "Schizophrenia") have a dangerous, raw, alive guitar sound. Miles better than "Evol". And "White Kross" ends the album on a fantastic loud/fast vibe - they opened my first ever SY show with that song, and it blew me away. For a great live version, be sure to seek out the Dirty Boots EP.
this is my favorite sonic youth record! its recorded in the same mood as daydream nation and a bunch of their other albums too cause thurston and gang had that one period where all their albums were basically the same. thats ok though, because sister sums that period up pretty well without being a decade long like daydream nation. which brings me to some questions for YOU ( you ) about that review of yours on the Mark Prindle Website ( -- click on sonic youth on front page). like what the deal is with you not minding pipeline/kill time even though it just goes off into a bunch of dumb trashy noise at the end, and why do you like beauty lies in the eye even though its just the same pretty guitar tone and adorable vocals for 2 minutes without doing anything?? actually thats only two questions, i cant think of any others. and i was just kidding if i told you to answer them mark, music is subjective, you can't answer those. fag!

sevens about right, thats a good review. i like your sonic youth reviews, i agree your points about their editing skills! but i dont know if its worth it to criticize those reviews now since you probably made half of them 19 years ago and will have to read them to remember what you said you hated or didnt hate. (Mike)
My 10. I like it more than "Daydream Nation" because it's got a rougher sound, it's got "Schizophrenia", it's got a Crime cover, and most importantly, becuase it's a single album, not a double. This band needs limits. And only being give 45 minutes to work in kept things punchy. I love the creamy dreamy production on "Daydream", but this feels a little warmer, and a little fuzzier. I could go on about this one for a while, but I won't. It's just a fucking great record. And the best place to start a Sonic Youth collection.

Add your thoughts?

Hold That Tiger - Goofin' 1991
Rating = 5

But before we get to that, let's talk about me.

If you're a new visitor to the site, hey how's it going. But if you're a regular reader, you'll be pleased to hear that I'm giving up the drink. No more sauce for Ol' Prind. After two and a half HaZy, CrAzy months, my "Lost Weekend" has officially reached cessation.

"But why!?" you're wondering. "Didn't you enjoy blacking out and getting thrown out of bars three times a week?" Well of course I did, what are you crazynuts to ask that? But something happened two nights ago that was so preposterously dangerous -- actually, TWO UNRELATED THINGS happened that were so preposterously dangerous that there is no way in Hell I am going to play with Fate's Death Alcohol (FDA) again.

Plus it's too expensive and my ex-wife split our accounts so I can't spend her money anymore. CURSES!

Okay, so Thursday night karaoke was a complete bummer. I was surrounded by young women who were there for a birthday party and had little use for Ol' Prind. I just drank and drank and drank, getting more depressed by the minute (though enjoying all the free pizza). Then I spent Friday and Saturday alone. So come Sunday night, I was rarin' to party! I headed down to Le Poisson Rouge for another delightful round of DJ RickAlert's karaoke, and here is every single thing I can remember from the next seven hours:

- I walked in as Teacher Crystal was singing "Hello I Love You." It's always nice to be greeted by somebody telling you they love you, even if they aren't referring to you at all, the pricks.

- I said howdy-do to my friends Heather, Shandi and Rick.

- I drank seven vodka shots in 45 minutes.

(here's where everything gets a bit sketchy)

- I got angry at Heather's friend for lecturing me about quitting my job with the asshole boss.

- Shandi and I sang The Flaming Lips' "The W.A.N.D." together, in lovely dual falsetto.

- I repeatedly expressed confusion, excitement and wonder because they opened a wall next to the bar and there was an entire restaurant next door that I didn't know was there.

- I sat next to this guy Blake and talked to him for a while. Nice guy!

- I got really excited when I realized that Shandi was singing "Nights In White Satin"

(around this point, I fully blacked out)

- I suddenly awoke to find myself dancing with Heather, who said something to me like "You just kissed me!" I thought long and hard about this, finally uncovered a vague memory of having kissed her, thought to myself, "Oh yeah - that was nice!" and kissed her again. In this way, I am a considerate gentleman.

- I suddenly awoke to find myself crashing backwards onto the ground, with two people trying to help me up.

- I suddenly awoke to find myself in a car with two black women I didn't know. Frightened for obvious reasons, I snuck a cell phone call to Jim Laakso (at 4 AM) asking him to call the police because I was being kidnapped. He didn't want to get me in trouble if I was just incoherent in a taxi, so he texted me back telling me to call 911 if I needed to. But by then, I'd long since blacked out again.

- I suddenly awoke to find myself in the guest bedroom of my home as the two women searched the premises for luxury items. Quickly, I ran to the bathroom and let Henry The Dog out. He barked the hell out of them like a good boy, so they high-tailed it away. Though still absolutely trashed, I was thankfully lucid enough to realize that my cash ($300), credit cards, debit card and phone were gone. I called all the necessary companies to cancel everything (though the women managed to spend $10 at McDonald's on my debit card!), then called my cell phone. They picked up and tried to get me to tell them my bank card password. Apparently I'd been quite open with personal information while blacked out (how else would they have gotten into my home!?), but I held it together this time. They claimed they were coming back to return my phone to me, so I went downstairs to wait. They didn't show up, but a police car did. Did I call the police? I have no idea. I told them what happened, though I obviously didn't have much to tell them.

- At some point I realized my face was killing me. I looked in the mirror and saw this:

I then noticed that my knee was bloody, my side was bruised and my back was scraped. Livin' large in Largeville, USA!

The next night, upon returning to karaoke to perform The Who's "Who Are You" (for obvious reasons) and Helmet's "Unsung" (because a black eye goes perfectly with that song), I was informed by the Poisson Rouge bartender that I had fallen asleep while standing up, fallen straight forward and smashed my face on a table. That's what woke me up and made me think I had fallen over backwards -- hitting the table turned my body around. And thank God for it because otherwise I'd have fallen face-first onto the ground from a standing position. So long, nose! Nice to know you, teeth!

I also found out that I'd performed a nightmarish version of The Who's "The Real Me," which involved me taking drinks off of tables at random and pouring them into my mouth and all over my face and chest.

So to answer your question, yes I'm finished drinking. I'm not just finished -- I'm literally afraid to drink. If you want to believe in forces of the universe, something has been giving me warning after warning after warning (I wound up in a goddamned psych ward a few weeks ago, and STILL kept drinking!) Thankfully I'm not actually addicted to the stuff; I just binge like nuts on the nights I drink. So forget it. No more. At the rate I'm going, the next warning is going to involve me murdering an entire city. It's Sober Karaoke from now on!

I actually did karaoke sober last night and had a good time. Unfortunately I banged my head so vociferously during the two-minute "Unsung" outro that my back and neck are absolutely killing me today. Maybe I'll have just a little drink to ease that pain.

Ha! No, but I kid you!

So moving on to this shitty Sonic Youth album, it's an 'official' bootleg featuring performances of every song on Sister except for "Hot Wire My Heart," as well as four Ramones covers, two Evol songs, one Bad Moon Rising, one from the Kill Yr Idols EP, and lots of references to Steve Albini (it was recorded in Chicago, and he was there). Their actual playing is fine -- particularly if you enjoy several minutes of tuning between each song -- but the bootleg recording quality is abysmal. Everything sounds tinny and monophonic, with loud reverbed drums and absolutely no bass at all. It doesn't even matter how good the songs are (and they're very good) (except "Death Valley '69," of course) (and "Expressway To Yr Skull") -- when everything sounds like a blaring alarm clock with Kim Gordon purging on it, it's impossible to enjoy.

Even the Ramones songs sound like shit! How do you ruin a Ramones song!? By not tuning your guitars, basically. Sure, they're more than happy to waste 5 hours retuning between each mess of noise just so they can make a different mess of noise but when it's time to play THE GREATEST SONGS EVER RECORDED, they can't be bothered to tune to EADGBE!? That just reeks of Thurston Moore. Did somebody let him guest appear at this concert?

Noteworthy stage patter includes:
- "This song is the Big Black reunion theme song."
- "I have no desire to fuck Jessica Hahn, but I would like to kill Jim Bakker."
- "This song's called 'We're Sonic Youth and You're Steve Albini'."

Notable moments include:
- Turning it off

Reader Comments
Nice shiner, I somehow don't feel bad for losing my wallet on sat cause i was too trashed. As for Sonic Youth, i don't think I have ever heard a consistently good record out of them. Goo comes close, but I've given up on them. I don't have your patience to weed through their bullshit, but when they're on, they are way on. GL with the drinking thing, you should do what i do, stay at home & become a curmudgeon. Isn't the internet great?

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Master-Dik/Beat On The Brat ep - SST 1987.
Rating = 6

Any record with a good Ramones cover deserves a 6, even if it's as stupid and unnecessary as this one. The liner notes are hilarious; a Ben Weasel Maximum Rock And Roll diatribe that refers to Sonic Youth as the Yes of the '90s (as opposed, one assumes, to the actual Yes of the '90s, who presumably were more like Painted Willie). Some of the live rantings on side two are funny as well; for once, Thurston sounds embarrassed and self-deprecating instead of completely in love with himself. "Ticket To Ride" alone is probably worth the price of the record. Well, maybe not, but the Ramones cover is fantastic - possibly better than the original. Side one, on the other hand, is mostly a waste of time. It's a semi-rap song, but since Thurston doesn't go out of his way to actually "rap," it's more like one of their trademark boring poems set to a clunky beat. Still, it has its moments - the "I know!" part where Thurston starts singing along with what I think is a Kiss sample is surprising and witty, and the John Cougar Mellencamp ending is a dang hoot, in a hip, ironic, postmodern way. Could be better, but still pretty fun. And too short to get really boring.

Reader Comments
A fine stop gap with as Prindle points out some hilarious liners. Also dig the Big Black sticker that came with the initial pressings warning us that this e.p. wasn't "as good as Atomizer...So don't get your hopes up Cheese." Probably the most requested S.Y. effort that I used to tape for people who'd ask: "Can you make me a copy of that Sonic Youth song where they call Gene Simmons an ugly motherfucker?" The stage intros for non-existent jazz players like George Benson is a laugh too. My hopes aren't up. It's not as good as "Atomizer." I like cheese. And I like this effort as an ego deflator which was starting to happen when Kim started to put sparkling stars on her jeans during this time. I'm not making that up either. She was wearing them when she got hit in the mouth with the microphone.

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The Whitey Album - Blast First 1988.
Rating = 6

Too long to avoid getting really boring. And not a cover of an entire Beatles album, as rumored, but a sort of mood-oriented joke tribute to Madonna released under the name Ciccone Youth. Some nice noises and lots of silly '80s programmed drums, but pretty pointless. Didn't require much thought or effort, so it gets a little boring, even though they try to keep you interested by throwing in rock versions of "Burnin' Up" (by Mike Watt) and "Into The Groove," plus a sort of dancey rendition of "Making The Nature Scene," the worst song on Confusion Is Sex. There's also some more bad poetry, some John Cage-esque silence, and a funny Robert Palmer cover recorded at an amusement park. It's okay, but don't bother unless if you've got the others already. There's not too much interesting guitar work. Ehhhhhh....
Reader Comments (Wim Maesschalck)
This is the best sonic youth side project Do you know anything about great music (Kay Duffy)
What the hell are you talking about? making the nature scene is a great song! you know, sometimes the words to a song are sort of important to the meaning. jesus h christ, why do you even bother to buy records if you aren't going to really listen to them (Earle White)
they are doing hip hop, social criticism and's amazing....listen to it again.....sonic youth are pop in every sense of the word.
Remember what I said about the S.Y. ego? Well here it shows its sparkly star jean wearing head. What started out as a cute little single with buddy Mike Watt has turned into a full-length jerk off which was probably a helluva lot more fun to make than to listen to. Instead of this being a lesson in social criticism or avant-experimentalism, I see it as a way for their new record company (at that time), Blast First, to help fund Daydream Nation. As good as Daydream is, this might not have been a bad idea after all. (Michael Grefski)
Just fucking horrible. This was a love letter in disguise as an experimental album that the band sent to themselves. A bad Robert Palmer karaoke cover? Kim Gordon making a phone call to someone who isn't home? Who the fuck cares? Of course with every rock critic getting in line at the time to pick the band's noses and eat the offending detrius like it was mana from heaven probably inflated their egos a touch. Make no mistake, EVOL was cool, SISTER was cool, DAYDREAM NATION was great, but this is just poo-poo.
I never saw the point of this release either. I say just skip it. Not horrible, just pointless. Even the (hopefully) comically-inclined Madonna and Robert Palmer covers are just kinda "ehhhhh..." It's unfortunate that this release is often billed as a "collaboration with Mike Watt of fIREHOSE!" because that might lead a potential fan into the erroneous assumption that Watt is a dork. Nothing could be further from the truth - do not be misled. (Mike)
I'm not going to defend this to my death, but I'm not going to slam it, either. It's fun, a breath of fresh air after the whole EVOL/Sister/Daydream excursion. I don't even really notice that either Mike Watt or J Mascis are even on there. It's one of the more listened-to SY albums in my girlfriend's car, though, 'cause my girlfriend likes the echoey dacey beats. Go figure. If she doesn't complain about a Sonic Youth album, I guess I'm happy. Even this one.

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Daydream Nation - Enigma 1988.
Rating = 8

Very good. I don't like it quite as much as I'm expected to, though. Yes, some of the songs ("Teenage Riot," "Total Trash," "'Cross The Breeze") swirl, glow, and vibrate with power, originality, and beauty, but others ("Rain King," "Eric's Trip," "Eliminator Jr.") start nowhere, go nowhere, and make the thing an f-oldin' chore to sit through. Plus, again, every song has boring guitar noise in the middle of it! At what point is it supposed to become interesting?

That said, you're gonna find some fantastic guitar bits on this album. The record-opener "Teenage Riot" (reportedly about Dinosaur Jr.'s notoriously lazy lead man J. Mascis serving as president of the U.S.) is awe-inspiring power pop from start to finish, "Silver Rocket" is a macho rocker wrapped in intergalactic guitar chords that make it really stand out, "'Cross The Breeze" is the fastest song they've ever done, "Total Trash" has a hilarious "two guitars playing the same thing, but a little bit out of tune with each other" bit in the middle, and the first two sections of the "Trilogy" are amazing beyond words. Not just gorgeous or sad, but unbelievably...something. Make up your own word. These two bits alone are probably the reason that this album is considered to be such a classic. Wow, I say. Wow. Too bad there are so many mediocre songs on here. And, uhh, well, you know... repetitive guitar noise, as it were.

It's a double-album, by the way, and the album cover is soothing and purty. Especially if you look at it while you're listening to the first two parts of the Trilogy. The third part sounds like ZZ Top and is no good. But ooooh, those first two parts! Hooooeeeee! And say! Did I mention that they can actually sing now? Actually, they sang really well on Sister, too, but I forgot to mention it.

Reader Comments (Sean)
You're about 75% right when it comes to describing Daydream Nation. If you're looking for flat out amazing, melodic guitar work, "Candle" is by no means a filler track. Also, I think Daydream Nation is such an album that that inner junk noise is needed to establish a mood. Sorry, maybe I've had one too many rum or brew sprawled listening sessions with this CD, but it's visual as hell. In "Trilogy," when Moore says "Kids dressed up for basketball just beat me in my head," the noise adds to this dark feeling, like you're in that run-down apartment complex. Like classical musicians such as Bartok, some parts of the music are chaotic for the purpose of establishing moods. Just totally give in to the album and treat it as a sort of concept album and I'm sure those missing two red dots will appear on your review. (Christopher Way)
Firstly, I'd like to commend you on the efforts you've gone to to write about Sonic Youth's albums, and in doing so, perform that activity which I think is central to almost any kind of criticism of the fruits of human creativity--namely, through writing, to come to grips with how this shit affects us all. I'd also to like to preface my comments by saying that in music, as with many questions of aesthetics, it's so damn hard to amass a squeakyclean, suitable set of objective standards, and we usually have to give ourselves up to utter subjectivity with it all (i know, a thorough truism to some) --with that in mind, it should be obvious why I'm not about to argue for this side or that, or try to persuade anyone, cuz . . . well, to be frank, that's boring as shit, and I hate it when that happens to me.

Now to whatever the hell it was that got me to write -- Sonic Youth, more specifically,the album Daydream Nation, which you favourably reviewed (but which i would rate at a sparkling 10), more specifically the song "Eric's Trip," a song which formed a trio of pieces on the album of which you said, i believe, "went nowhere." Before I go further, I'm gonna make a few more prefacin' type comments-- I am going to appraoch this sort of criticism in a manner analogous to a reader-response type reading of a poem or a book or any literary object, a method which I trust won't be too strange; this is the method which I feel allows me to describe best what takes place in my consciousness when I'm exposed to works of human expression. Not only that, but it's better than readin' some critic who attempts to convince you (in vain) that he has consulted some fairy-tale tablet of Universal Musical Laws in telling you the importance of an album.

"Eric's Trip" admittedly bored me lots the first time I heard it. I felt, too, it lacked progression--Thurston's vocals remained in the range of half-utterance/half-shout, the melody of the song sounded to me rather too obscure, the choruses and the rest of the song seemed to meld in a cacophonous brew of spoken-word nonsense, tambourines, and weird guitar play. Want a better indicator of how young I was when I heard this song? Take into account that my favorite part of it was the "fucking the future" part, merely because he cussed.

How has it become one of my most treasured songs on the album? Well, it, like many works of poetry (of which I'll list none out of consideration for your patience), required more than just one taking-in, one exposure, one listen, before I could appreciate it. It, like many other forms of human expression, required a conscious opening-of-self, a sort of willingness on my part to work with the musical object and really feel it. In listening, I didn't do all this because a critic said it was the best song ever, or because I wanted to be able to show off after uncovering the secret nugget of the song's beauty. I did it because that is how I approach the enormous spectrum of things created by human beings.

So listening to it more, a few things began to attract me immeasurably. First, Steve Shelley's jackhammering drums began to stick out--something I absolutely cherish about some of my favorite sonic youth songs. The drumming remains loyal to the song, changing only to flare into a few tight rolls during certain sections. The drums pound in to me, they do not relent, and as I will describe in a bit, they tenderize my consciousness in preperation for the rest of what the song has to offer.

The lyrics. Let me say quickly that I read what you had to say about lyrics, and that, for you, they exist on the periphery of the musical experience. Cool. That's just taste, after all. I believe that, just as in poetry the form *and* the written word invariably play off one another and augment the reader's experience, lyrics and "music" in some songs are for better or for worse married and should be both acknowledged, I think. They are part of the musician's vision, (at least we hope) and to ignore them as nonessential ballast deprives us of potential mines of fun, excitement, terror, beauty. In "Eric's Trip," the lyrics were to me almost transcendent--dont laugh. Sure, I dont claim to have any sort of monopoly on their meaning--an acid trip? a dream? who the hell knows? All I know is something *strange* and *otherworldly* occurs each time I listen to the frightening solipsism of "I cant see anything at all/ all i see is me/ that's clear enough thats whats import/ to see me" or the schizophrenic alternation between silence and noise/ inactivity and explosion in these lines: "sometimes i speak/ tonight theres nothing to say/ sometimes we freak / and laugh all day" or the plain surreality of imagery in "see the jacknife inside of the dream/ the railroad runs through the record stores at night, coming in from the deep freeze." Then there's the almost confessional section in which the unidentified "Eric" is addressed, the words pregnant with need, as if Thurston is doing everything to get this person to listen: "Eric/ a simple word-- are you there in the cold country?? / your eyes so full, your head so tight / can't you hear me??" What's going on here? one asks himself. Who's Eric? What's wrong? Where's the cold country? Are these guys wacked out on acid? That's the allure. That's the mystery, the wonder, but more than that the resoluteness that is felt when I, and maybe others like me, say this: whatever it is, I know it's something that sucks me in *wholly*. The lyrics, no, the *song*, does not pause in its brutal revelation of a screwed up world, whether a funky inner psychodrama or someplace visited when we get abducted by aliens or *who knows what*--my point is, i felt thurston lyrically with his undeviating chant was forcing me to see some very, very odd things indeed, and shelley's implacable drums kept me facing the crazy unknown of what thurston was talking about, and the yowling (thats the only damn word i kin think of, alrighty?) guitar was like the pained deathbed shriek of some undiscovered beast, at other times the insistent whoosh of some wind that I picture ravaging the dunes of some endless desert.

Thus, for me, the lyrics and "music" have united beautifully--the soundscape (grin) impels me, forces me to keep up with thuston's mystical (i am trying very hard to use this oft-misunderstood word seriously!), frightening vision of a world that is not mine. It is not my favorite song, but it is a damn good one. And it, to be sure, certainly *goes somewhere*--takes me to some place that I honestly feel only sonic youth at their creative apex could. All this about one song!! I know, I'm nuts. Call all of this ramble what you want. Hyperbole, over-reaction, nonsense. But the song to me is loudly, gloriously frightening and uncompromising. It is Sonic Youth, and it this line at the end of "Eric's Trip" I believe captures the whole of their important work nicely:

"There's something moving over there-- to the right-- like nothing I've ever seen." (Sarah M. Johnson)
To get nit-picky, Lee Ranaldo is actually the one singing on "Eric's Trip," not Thurston.
an easy 10 (Mark Andrews)
"Eric's Trip" would have to be my favourite song of this album. I can't believe you think it goes nowhere!
I didn't mean to sound like i was knocking you in my previous letter, if I did I just wanted to apologize, I'm reading through the rest of your crtiques of the albums, and I must say you've got some interesting points about this shit. Especially about Daydream Nation. I agree, those two first parts of the "trilogy", simply gorgeous. And I must say, "Providence" is a nice tune, which the band even admitted was a fluke tune and stuck it all the album because of its eerieness. whether you agree or not, it's up to you.
Uhhhh...okay, I'm disagreeing with the eight rating on Daydream Nation. It's by far their best album. How can you not like "Erics trip"? And how could you forget to mention the best song on the album, "Hey Joni"? Also I'd like to say something about how everyone here is talking about how Sonic Youth are these big druggie stoners and their music is stoner music. I have read in a number of articles that said the most Thurston has ever done is a little bit of pot and he tried acid a few times, and that Lee used to smoke weed but doesn't anymore. Thurston said that he was never into the drug thing, that he never thought about poisoning himself that way. And now, none of the members do any drugs, including smoking. Just wanted to point that out. (Kay Duffy)
dear mistrr prindle:

i feel like a giant weight has been lifted off my shoulders:someone else actually doesn't like eric's trip.

oh yeah. sorry about all those really pissy emails i sent you. all 2 or 4 of them or something. i cant remember. but that's the point i cant remember all that i said, because i wrote ALL of them under the effects of severe sleep deprivation. ( same for this email...)anyway, sorry if i said anything really retarded. but i still stand by my opinions on yr rating scale and making the nature scene
Maybe my favorite record of all time, but am I the only one who loves Eliminator Jr? Even the most hard-core SY fans hate it. Sure, it's a little over the top at fist, but boy does it get intense.
first SY album i ever heard, best SY album i ever heard. "Teenage Riot" kicks the ass of any alternative song ever. "Silver Rocket" has great lyrics. am i the only one who digs "The Sprawl"? "Eric's Trip", "Hey Joni" and "Cross the Breeze" are total mindfucking rockers. "Total Trash" is just crazy. And the first two parts of the trilogy are perhaps the most satisfying put to record. now i don't know a whole lot about their (or anyone's) guitar playing, the value of the noise, or their supposed stoner tendencies, but i do know this is a great album: 10!
I relize I'm emailing you every two minutes as I go from sonic youth review to sonic youth review. but, I just read the daydream nation review. Sir, yr an idiot. (James L. Tichenor)
Cmon guys, its Prindle's opinion right? He is not telling you what to think about the album, it's his take on the damn thing. Alright enuff defending him.

Daydream Nation easily deserves a ten just for the plain and simple fact that all that stuff you call "noise" is being made with guitars, drums, and basses. This album, and Confusion is Sex, are probably some of the music that most inspired me to pick up the guitar in the first place. It opened so many doors and possiblities. It's like, "Jesus i never knew you could do that with a guitar". Anyone who claims that rock is heading the way of the grave obviously has been listening to too much radio and not enough SY.

I cant see why so many ppl are dissing "eriks trip". That song is fucking amazing. Sure, theyre not the best singers in the world, but i dont think its important when taken in the context of the music they play. Lee sounds really laid back, but it works perfectly with the bizarre soundings and the trancelike chords. And "Kissability", aside from the fact that Kims voice is very atonal, is a pretty damn catchy little number. For some reason this song is just so emotional to me. But thats what great music is supposed to do right? For no reason at all it can change your mood or quicken your heartbeat before you even know whats happening. Not many "rock" bands, no matter how avant garde, can do this, and Sonic Youth does it seemingly without trying on DN, and thats what its all about. What a great album. (Chris Collins)
If anyone doubted NYC could produce a more plodding, art/drug-addled band than the Velvets, this band is out to spoil that notion! Christ, are these dull scenesters ever overrated. But hey, they're dispassionate, wear sunglasses, remind you they're an art band every 2 minutes, and are from Manhattan, so it must be "good" music.... right?? Right, guys??

That said, this is a good album. "Silver Rocket" is rockin' and tense in a sub-Burma kinda way. "Eric's Trip" is awesome, signaling Renaldo as the oneor two of emotion). "Trilogy" is the best thing they'll ever do. Lovely in a weird, mesmerizing way.

Unfortunately Kim Gordon is a mediocre bass player and comes off like an annoying no fun-feminist college brainwashee in "the Sprawl". This band's most debilitating factor. No folks, they're not geniuses no matter how hip they try to look and how many critics drool on them. Wake me up when these ageing bohos call it a day. (Zach English)
This is partly in response to Chris Collins's idiotic, inane, laughable post above. As I get older and listen to more and more music, Sonic Youth is slowly but surely becoming my favorite band. I can think of no other band that's been more influential over the last twenty years, and no other band as idiosyncratic. How can Chris say that there's no emotion in the band? Just cause they're from New York? Shit, dude, you must have your head up your ass (or else listening to too much dipshit late-period Black Flag, maybe?). They're certainly not a drug band, whatever you may hear in various rumors. They're simply brilliant musicians, probably twenty steps ahead of any other band to come out recently...okay, there. (Joel Dunham)
While I agree with most people reviewing this one, I don't think that it's the best SY album of all time or even of the 1980's. However, there are a few aspects that people have missed so far in their synopses. Eliminator Jr. doesn't seem to hold up to the sheer power and profunditity of the first two parts of the trilogy, especially after the lyric "day dreaming days in a daydream nation" goes by. But you should notice that Sonic Youth are interesting in that often Kim sings from a guy's story often and Thurston often sings for a girl. Eliminator Jr. is one of those cases. Look at the lyrics to Eliminator and you'll find that Kim is speaking the role of the kids who beat up the Thurston protagonist in the Hyperstation section. This fact is what gives the three parts of the Trilogy the unity that makes it deserving of a Trilogy as opposed to just three songs. This album is where SY gets sonic unity. The earlier albums all had a smattering of songs in which each sounded different as the band was experimenting around more. Daydream nation loses some of the raw eclecticness of its predecessors, but packs a tighter punch with its unity. I think some songs on this album have something lacking on them, though. The Sprawl seems to be a song whose idea didn't work yet and only would in the later version Washing Machine. Rain King is almost unlistenable. But Hey Joni, Cross the Breeze, and of course Teenage Riot are just staggering. Total Trash is an odd one because it has such a typical song structure (typical meaning it looks like all the other bands) and it's the last song on the album you'd expect to have a long instrumental section, especially when experienced reading the lyrics along with it, but it does have a long noise section. There's something more to that one... (Akin Owoso)
Hey Christopher Way--I know you want to impress everyone with your dissertation, but you are a dumbass--Lee sings on "Eric's Trip" NOT Thurston. goodness, if you're going to write a fucking doctoral thesis, at least get your information straight--this is sad...

oh, and DIRTY rules
A great, excessive, devastating masterpiece...
One of my favourite album allo over the time...
I like its anger!
daydream nation has to be the most experimental ambitios idioscecratic great realese ever i love it. and i recommend every one to buy this masterpeice. (Bernardo Pacheco)
Oh my god!

What the fuck are you people on about? "Rain King" is incredible! I never paid attention to the absence of development on that song, because it just creates an incredible mood, or enviroment, and lets you there. It actually feels like heavy, heavy rain pounding on you. This song always brings a smile to my face. I'm personally offended by all these anti-"Rain King" comments. It's one of the top moments in this incredible album. I'm personally not too crazy about The Sprawl, and I don't think Teenage Riot is THAT good either, but besides that, a perfect album. (Steve)
It's a toss-up between Daydream Nation and Confusion Is Sex for the 10, though I'd have to say that this one does a bit more for me most of the time. I'm surprised that I don't see more people mentioning "Total Trash" when they review this album. Whenever I listen to it, I get the mental image of a flimsy facade of a song trying its hardest to maintain itself until it eventually drifts apart to reveal the underlying chaos of Sonic Youth's music. Either "Total Trash" is pure genius, or I've spent far too many evenings listening to this record while whacked out on cough syrup.
It's just not so memorable for me. I'd give it a 5 out of 10. One of my least favorite sonics. I don't have a musical education and can't quite articulate what it is that I don't like about this. I'm sure it's more complicated than it actually sounds, but most of DN just bores me. When I listen to this cd, 90% of the time the only tracks I listen to are Cross the Breeze and providence. The Hyperstation section of Trilogy is also good. But I think Silver Rocket sucks. Total Trash,Candle, and Hey Joni are good songs, but I got tired of them quickly.

I much prefer Bad Moon Rising, Evol, Washing Machine and a thousand leaves. Confusion is Sex and Sister also both guarantee that Daydream Nation gets very little airplay in my house.
Neat-o. I love this album. It's quite possibly one of my all time favorites. Flaws? Eliminator Jr, as most seem to agree. I don't like Silver Rocket too much, though. Thurston sounds like an ass and, while they may be 'intergalactic', the guitars are just irritating. Ah well. Teenage Riot, the first two parts of the trilogy, Hey Joni, Eric's Trip, The Sprawl.. all amazing. 9/10 at least, maybe 10, depending on my mood.

And hey! I really do like repetitive guitar noise! Yay for neat sounds!
Shit forgot to comment on this one! Anyways, i think this is quite a great record. One of Sonic Youth's best by far. Also the first record where i can appreciate Lee's songs. Dont usually like em as much as Thurston/Kim's on previous records, but "Hey Joni" and "Erics Trip" are great ones here. The album as a whole is real druggy and has this atmospheric quality to it, even the best damn song on the record "Teenage Riot"!! Its funny that you say "Eliminator Jr." sounds like ZZ-Top, cuz supposedly thats their "tribute" to them. Parody? who knows, but i treat it like one anyway! An 8 cuz some songs kinda drag, but i love a majority of songs on here. Really beautiful. Sonic Youth may sound cacophonious to most, but they have some real pretty guitar sounds. (Alfred Schneider)
i really love this record and my favorite song is the sprawl, does that mean that i am a bad person? (Lily Pepper)
i just wanted to add, after reading peoples' comments about 'erics trip', that 'eric' is eric emerson, from andy warhol's scene, who was apparently brilliant/crazy and eventually died of a heroin overdose. the first verse of the song is dialogue spoken by eric in one of andy warhol's movies, i think 'chelsea girls', while tripping on acid. just thought i'd get my two cents of music trivia in. incidentally, i think the song is great. (James Mohr)
Great album, but as Prindle says not perfect. I enjoy the first half straight through (Eric's Trip is the weakest there, for sure, but for me it doesn't significantly distract from the record...and the Sprawl, for the record, is great, one of the best of the SY subgenre "the sexy-scary Kim Gordon song"), but the second half is seriously hit and miss. High 8 or low 9, but who cares?
OK guys, sorry to break it to you all.......

Sonic Youth were, in varying degrees, into class A drugs. A friend & I spent an evening with them & Lydia Lunch under a temporary stage in Brighton in 1988 & those guys were powdering their noses with the usual cokehead rapacity. Kim had an on/off smack habit, Lee & Thurston probably dabbled there too. The only member to stay relatively clear of hard drugs was Steve Shelley.

On stage in London 1990 Thurston quipped "Hey, why does ecstacy always make you feel sick?"

I'm not moralising, I'm not saying they haven't cleaned up (though I for one think they sounded better & much wilder when they were high). They're responsible parents now, probably as bored of drugs as everybody else their age, but they STILL EXIST! Look at the casualty list, they have to be about the only NY punk band not to have lost at least one member to an overdose.

They still have their moments, they still have their dignity & they still have my total & utter respect. Rock Out.
I placed this album in a sealed plastic bag - I daren't let it out - but its puss white stench is oozing out all over my kitchen. I then bought myself some funny glasses, with one red lens and one green, but no, it's still 1D.

Excuse me, but why does this amateur drivel get so many accolades? Posing as art, this motley crew and their disciples are what gives Indie music a bad name. In an attempt to sound difficult and challenging they might as well be a cow in formaldehyde. The sound of the garbage man posing in the King's new clothes.

Melody? Do not make me choke on my own spittle. Do you know what really shits on this stuff from a great height? "Classical Muddly" from the Portsmouth Sinfonia Orchestra. Now there are some guys wearing their avant-garde with a hint of tounge-in-cheek, unlike this humourless hunk of honking dead dogmeat.

Roll over Kim Gordon and give Jeff Foskett the blues! (James Robinett)
I've always thought of "Eliminator Jr" as the "Her Majesty" of "Daydream Nation"
Well, Chris Collins, you have a few points. The Youth are a little too "hip," "scenestey," "Manhattan-esque," "ironic," and "poseur greaser" to NOT be annoying sometimes. And Kim Gordon, while a total FOX, severely grates on my nerves whenever she starts yelping about poor rich boys who are candy all over and cum right through her.

But come ON. Don't you just want to hum along to 80% of the songs on here? This is catchy, happy, moody, and wonderfully pretentious music that belies its indie-snob origins. I almost gave it an eight, but even "Eliminator Jr." is catchy in its own annoying way, so I give it a nine. Surprisingly good album from a bunch of grungey Lou Reed worshippers. Love it or leave it, this is a great band, and this album is great art. The Pixies must be red with jealousy.

On second thought, I take that back. The Pixies probably don't like this album. Probably too "pretentious" and "long" for them. Too bad.
Another great record. It expands on the ideas of Sister to have a bit more range. However, it is unfortunately flawed in that it has a couple of weak tracks. These weak tracks are not Eric's Trip (as virtually everyone except Prindle seems to agree) or Rain King as they are fantastic songs. What do you mean they go nowhere? Rain King is up there with the best yet many think it is unlistenable with its off-kilterness. It works as a moody song.

The weaknesses include Eliminator Jr which just sounds annoying and out of place, no matter how 'intense' it is, Silver Rocket which just sounds like a slightly poorer remake of Catholic Block with exactly the same guitar burst (cool terminology) in the middle. Also Teenage Riot is good but it's not as great as everyone says. It goes on a verse too long for me, causing that originally great and catchy guitar hook to start to get slightly annoying. That's just nip-picking though. All in all, great album. I give it a solid 9. It's all downhill from here. (Damon Eubanks)
It's only rock n' roll right? Well, I acknowledge everyone has their own musical tastes and all, but I have always found it so hard to understand why everyone doesn't agree that 'Daydream' is the greatest rock album of all time! Or at least the 80s. The only other 80s albums that come within shouting distance are SY's 'Sister,' Minutemen's 'Double Nickels,' Meat Puppets' 'Up on the Sun,' or the Pixies' 'Surfer Rosa.'

The only weak songs on here (and 'weak' is definitely a relative term here) are 'Rain King' and 'Cross the Breeze' in my opinion. And I can't believe so many people dislike 'Eliminator, Jr.' I love that song and have often fast forwarded through the rest of the Trilogy just to hear that chug-a-chug-a guitar crunch. My wife digs it too. And obviously there is a ZZ Top reference for sure. Anyone remember they had an album named 'Eliminator' in the early 80s?

Quite frankly, this album changed how I listen to music. This may be the last great rock guitar album ever.
OK, all of you boys who bash Kim Gordon for being a feminist need to probably stop listening to Sonic Youth. You have the wrong idea.

One of you even states that she is a fox, but needs to basically keep her mouth shut. That's sad. As a band, I think that they are probably writing music and lyrics for people who are trying to escape those like you.

I can't help but say that Daydream Nation is a perfect 10. Every element is here and every member sounds equal. The balance between the songs themselves is amazing and the continuity is flawless. Sonic Youth is also able to write songs with more than one dynamic, which is rare for a rock band. 'The Sprawl' is by far one of the most underrated songs ever recorded. (Steve)
I've gotta disagree with you on one point Mark. One thing I noticed about the album in retrospect is that there ARE no self-indulgent guitar drones in the middle of these songs. On this one, the guitars naturally flow and lead up to the noisy bits without divirging into something completely contrived. Listen to the tension building in "Cross the Breeze" as the guitars begin to increase in tempo and gradually lead to that atonal riff before the song disintegrates into ambient guitar noise. Or in "Hey Joni", where there's experimental guitar noise throughout the entire song, not just during the noisy instrumental bits. The peaks of the songs seem organic and fitting, as opposed to random clangy noises to fill space between verses, which I admit sonic youth is guilty of on their pre-Daydream albums and every album since. Also the production on Daydream Nation is better than anything else they've done... that spindly guitar sound is classic. When you're listening to it as background music, the guitars blend together into a cohesive drone.... but when you actually pay attention to the music you'll notice that there's a clear separation between the instruments, to the point where you can individually pick out what each person is playing.

come to think of it, I think that's the problem with a lot of sonic youth's latest albums.... they lost that buzzing wiry guitar tone. Think of how Shellac would sound if albini stopped using his patented metal-on-metal guitar tone. The records would lose a lot of their edge, and despite albini's guitar prowess they'd sound like a regular power trio. Do you even post reader comments anymore? If not, sorry for the unsolicited emails.
Sometimes, a record album achieves such legendary status that one cannot help but look back years later and attempt to dissect and/or debunk the myth that has by now overshadowed the music. Such is the case with Daydream Nation.

Let me remind everyone that when this album came out, it was SO BITCHEN and SO UNEXPECTEDLY GREAT that I (and many other like-minded fans) did basically nothing but worship it for a whole year. Sonic Youth had already done stuff that no one had done before, but now they had turned a fringe underground sound into something epic, progressive, and just screaming "Hey! Dig me now! Because in 20 years, I'm gonna be remembered as the best album ever made!" We just KNEW it was great, in an everlasting sort of way. And indeed that has happened. It took a few years for everyone to catch on, but catch on they did.

And although I can't deny the superb quality of this album, years of debunking the myth have made me more skeptical. Some of these songs, as Mark bravely points out, just don't really hold up. Looking back, I did always seem to skip over "Kissability", "Rain King", "Providence", "The Sprawl", and even "Cross the Breeze" once the fast intro ended. Still though, this album probably has a higher batting average than any other SY album, except perhaps "Sister" or "Washing Machine". Especially since every other song here is so mind-blowingly amazing that I'm getting chills just thinking about "Teenage Riot", "Trilogy", and "Total Trash".

And for the record, I do come out on the "love it" side for "Eric's Trip". This album began a wonderful tradition of including "Lee" tunes (I know, he sang tunes in the past, but this was the first time I noticed his neat vocal style). From this point forward, I would always listen to a new album with my ears waiting eagerly for the new "Lee tune". Someone should make a CDR of all his neat lead vocal songs: Eric's Trip, Mote, Wish Fulfillment, Skip Tracer, Hoarfrost, etc etc.... Lee Ranaldo is the man. I'll give the album a strong 9/10.
if i ever catch kim gordon in the street i'm gonna punch that bitch in the face. "come on down to the store, you can buy some more more more more"? good going kim, that's definitely the best possible lyric to center the longest song of your record around
Hey, Mark. This is Matt F., that gay guy who told you off that one time. I think my old address used to be, but I left there for the more dangerous waters of Gmail, which I read somewhere is supposed to be a creepy e-mail service. They like read your e-mails, and then give them to George Bush or something. I dunno.

Anyway, I listened to this album on the way to work this morning. I forgot how good it was... but I do have to agree with you on one thing: THE STUPID AND POINTLESS GUITAR CRAP!! WHAT THE BLOODY HELL! On some days, I can handle it -- but MAN OH MAN, THIS MORNING WAS BRUTAL! I was like "Get the fuck on with it! How many more minutes of this pointless bullshit do I have do endure? When is Miss Old Kitty going to start talking about getting hard again?! WHEN?!!"

But isn't the stupidly named "Trilogy" good? I even love the ZZ Top part, with Miss Old Kitty probably talking about getting hard again. I don't get it; she doesn't have a penis, so what gets hard? Her nipples?

"Joshua Ackley"? More like "Put Words In Other People's Mouths And Not Read The Comments Accurately" Ackley, if you ask me! I didn't say she should "shut up." I said she's grating when she yelps about poor rich boys being candy all over and cumming right through her. Because she's rather annoying on those moments in the album. Not in an "ugh-I'm-a-big-stupid- jock-and-i-hate-it-when-females-speak-their-mind" way, but in a "jeez, what a shrill, amusical moment" way. My God. Jerk. Learn to read the comments before you go off on one of your little "me-against-the-mean-people" snits.

But this album kicks. Give it a 9. (Mike)
Ambitious. Uhhh, majestic. Look, I'm not going to say much about this album because I like "Sister" better, and there's enough extremists on the comments section above me that have already argued this album to death. Maybe a tad overrated, but it's still a fantastic album. The people who fanatically defend it and the people who slam it as overblown should not prevent anyone from getting this record if you have any inclination toward these guys.
"Eliminator Jr." is the best song ever. You've never suffered from AWGS (Angry White Girl Syndrome) have you?
Daydream Nation. That Landmark Album. It's Good. Is it Great? No. After the amazing "Teenage Riot", it's spotty (I think 2/3 of the rest of the album is great and the other 1/3 is pretentious). Unlike the "Holy Mother Fucking Shit" atmosphere on Confusion Is Sex.

Good but besides the nice melodies (on 2/3 of the songs), what else is really going on here?
(In the context of this music review, the singular form of the word "anus" shall be deemed to include the plural form and vice versa.)

well I thought Sonic Youth sucked pigs dick after listening to Dirty once or half-once through, but they actually ruled in the eighties! especially those songs Tunic and Brother james, which are not on this album. they’re awesome! anyway, what’s the point in comparing their albums to each other? they’re all the same! the only differences between them are that some suck and some rule. this album rules just like Goo and EVOL, especially Silver Rocket and Kissability. those are the only songs I can tell apart from the others anyway. it would help if these songs would have lyrics, and preferably in english!

interestingly I believe this album contains one of the two songs ever recorded whose title accurately describes the song (the other is Heavenly Pop Hit by the Chills) – namely Total Trash. as a fellow jazzmaster player who also once “composed” a dumb open-string boogie, I can kindly inform the band that it’s about as difficult as scratching your anus and about as interesting for anybody else to witness. who wants to hear stupid syncopated boogies played by a trashy noise band? NOONE! Not even your grandfather!

Seriously, ask him. “Granddad, do you want to hear a groovy 50’s negro boogie played by a band whose six noise guitar players wear shooting range headphones while performing live (OK, that was Mission of Burma, but bear with me as I introduce this additional lie to my hilarious story about your penisless granddad)?” Granddad: “I HAVE NO PENIS!”

Fuck, I totally gave away the punchline to that joke! It would’ve RULED! The first time I heard my school principal tell that joke, I SHAT MYSELF!

That’s why I’m writing this from Adolf J. Hosenschisser’s Home for Retarded Children. I have to go now, someone else wants to write a comment for Back in Black.
I know that I've already commented twice on this review, but I've got to comment on something that "Mr Qwerty" posted above me.

I've been listening to Daydream Nation now for 12 years, and it was three years before I even really understood the album. I think people are approaching the album with a certain linear mindset that doesn't allow them to process it. I think people are concentrating on the vocals and tuning out the music, and since they aren't paying attention to the guitars their brain tries to make the guitar noise make sense in the context of normal alt-rock guitar riffs. When I listen to it, I hear beautifully orchestrated guitar noise that's unlike anything else that's been made since. They use a really specific guitar style on this one that they abandoned as of Goo and never returned to; during the noisy parts and the insane crescendos, you can hear them playing these sharp complex guitar lines, but at the same time they're all using slightly different alternate tunings and there's this amazing glow that their tones all meld into that permeates the sound. It's the same principle as an orchestra: every instrument is playing something distinct that can be appreciated, but all the instruments in unison create a large fluid sound. During the intense instrumental parts like the first part of the Trilogy or the end of "Hey Joni", you can hear the guitars start to do this crazy rubbery vibrating thing that resembles the violins in some kind of alien symphony. It blows me away. I walk around sometimes with instrumental passages from Daydream Nation running on a loop through my head, yet lots of people criticize the album for supposedly having random guitar dirges and stuff like that. It really baffles me. The only explanation I can come up with is that "The Sprawl" kinda sucks, and it's actually the only song on the album where the band is kinda just droning on their guitars.. so I think that ruins the momentum of the album for people.

The more I listen to this album over the years, the more I think it's like a musical IQ test. I'm not saying that everyone has to like the same thing, or that if someone doesn't like this album they automatically don't get it. But the thing is, that's kinda true. If you ask people why they don't like Daydream Nation, they'll say a combination of two things:

1) It's overrated. Translation: "Critics hyped this up, and I felt stupid that I couldn't even listen to one song all the way through. The problem must be the music, not my ability to pay attention to music."

2) The music is just random droney noise. Translation "My brain can't process this sound due to my various musical prejudices, therefore it must be random noise."

That's why I know that most of these people aren't really listening to the album; it's one thing if they listen and the guitar sounds just don't do it for them, but for them to claim that the songs are pure noise or "not music" proves that they aren't really listening. It fucking amazes me that someone can listen to "Hey Joni" and just hear a generic blur.

I know it's really obsessive and nerdish to dwell on this, but it kinda bothers me that this whole "Daydream Nation is overrated" thing is becoming so widespread. It's almost a cliche to say it now, and lots of these trendy neo-indie fruits who are into Vampire Weekend love trashinig Daydream Nation on the internet. I guess I should feel secure in the knowledge that the joke is on them.
While I have not owned this album for a number of years, I just got it today, again, for Christmas. And I must say that my thoughts still hold true. In my 34 years on this big blue ball the only albums that I can honestly say are better than this are "Revolver" and "Abbey Road". It is that good.

Add your thoughts?

4 Tunna Brix ep - Bootleg 1990
Rating = 3

This is their tribute to the greatest band Britain has spawned since the Beatles broke up and the Rolling Stones got old. Oasis, you ask? No, of course not. Oasis has no talent. They'll be washed up within the next three years. I'm talking about The Fall. Here, Sonic Youth cover the Fall classics "My New House," "Psycho Mafia," "Rowche Rumble," and the Kinks-penned "Victoria." The Fall are an amazing band. These are amazing songs. Too bad Sonic Youth can't play them. These renditions blow. "Psycho Mafia" is passable; the others are a travesty. If The Fall found out about this, I bet Mark E. Smith would demand some sort of monetary compensation. That's just the kind of fellow that he is. If you're unfamiliar with The Fall, please return to the home page and, ahh hell - just click on the following grey declaration - fifty jillion times better than Oasis. They're one of the greatest bands of all time, underground or otherwise. And they deserve your attention. And, no, the singer can't sing. Get over it.

Reader Comments (Jay Freimark)
I have owned 4 Tunna Brix for about 10 years, but I haven't listened to it in quite a while. However, I have included Psycho Mafia and Victoria in a couple of mixes, and I must say while I am no music technician, these two tracks are fun to listen to. "Psycho Mafia" is a blast to crank on the car stereo, and "Victoria" is just an odd, little outtake that's fun to listen to. I've always loved the Kinks version of "Vic" and it's fun to hear SY's impromtu take on it.

While I wouldn't give this album 4 stars, it is great listening for SY fans.
hi mark,

in case you didn't know - you can download this EP here (some sy fan site)

and i agree - nothing on the originals but it's weird netherless
You're probably going to wet yourself laughing, but I knew nothing about The Fall when I bought this. I like all the trax, and I think the long version of "My New House" is amazing, some of the best work they've done, and it's a good companion piece to some of Lee's better songs (like 'Mote', for instance). I'd rather hear this than some of their arty noise crap.

Oh yeah, and Oasis really really suck, and I'm happy that Prindle was right about them dropping off the map.

Add your thoughts?

Goo - DGC 1990.
Rating = 8

For their big deal major label debut, Sonic Youth spent four billion years and four trillion dollars trying to make their detuned guitar music sound like a gigantic well-produced rock album. And it worked! The production is phenomenal; this is how the last three albums were supposed to sound. Full of thick, drony, powerful, shimmering piles of slick rockin' hypnotic guitars playing intelligent, grown-up melodies.

And the noise? It actually sounds like it has a purpose here! Mid-"Tunic," it sticks to the spirit of the melody, and post-"Mote," it concludes the hardest-rocking song on the record with a burst of noise anchored by a pounding repetitive bass note. Fantastidelica. Actually sounds pre-conceived! And both "Dirty Boots" and "Kool Thing" were catchy enough to grab MTV's attention, even in these primordial pre-Nevermind days. If there's anything bad to be said, it's that the songs get a bit samey as it goes. Still, the initial hooks grab ya and the guitar tones are slick enough to keep you hangin' round, much like Michael Nesmith (here, I chuckle in a self-appreciative Richard Dreyfuss-like manner). Buy it, and bathe in the bliss of corporate drone.

Reader Comments (Godlike Super-Genius)
not sure how Goo gets a ten, when Daydream and Washing Machine get eights - Dirty gets a three? adult oriented - wonder why sonic considers Goo their worst album? the word slick is key here... (The Levinsky's)
This is a very good album, but not their best. There are some of their best songs on here - "Dirty Boots", "Mary-Christ", "Titanium Expose". Lee Ranaldo turns in 2 fine songs, "Mote" and "Disappearer", and Kim Gordon's punk-rave-ups, "Kool Thing" and "My Friend Goo" are among her best. I think this album should get a 9 out of 10. It's one of those albums you don't listen to for a month, listen to it, and get blown away by it. Great album. (Dean Reis)
goo is good but not great. 8 maybe, ten no. How can you not feel that that sister and daydream nation are not among the most creative and innovated albums ever recored (easy tens, possibly elevens),when goo is those pretty much those two albums with a larger budget but lacks the creativity that made sister and daydream so great. "Disapearer" and "dirty boots" is probaly the only song that comes close to matching the beauty of those two albums
daydream nation is better

"Library Patron"
I'm really suprised that your favorite Sonic Youth album is Goo. It is actually my least favorite release of theirs. Although I don't believe that they have ever made a flawless record (before and after Goo), the thing that I liked about every other record besides Goo is that they tried something new.

I once left Bad Moon Rising on when I was going to bed. I woke up to the pounding drums (In my dream, a monster was banging my father's head against the ground). It almost requires being stoned to appreciate (and once you're there you're very appreciative). EVOL introduced more pop into their music then ever before ("Starpower" is great that way). Sister retained the pop tendencies while adding in a lot more aggression and rough texture to the album (the eighth song comes to mind: I'm drawing a blank of the title right now). Daydream Nation showed that they could write long, entertaining, riff oriented songs (with their indiosyncratic tweaks in all of them of course).

Goo, unfortunately, broke no new ground, in my opinion. In any event, the songs aren't even that entertaining. "Mote" is my least favorite Lee Ranaldo song of all time (I skip it). I don't really care for the way the guitars ended up sounding on the album either. They seem to blend togather too much, and they don't jump out at me at all.

Dirty, on the other hand, proved that their pop songs could be loud, abrassive, and beautiful at the same time.

Although EJTANS was an overall disappointing album, the songs on there are still some of the weirdest pop songs I've ever heard.

Washing machine blew my mind. I had problems putting back togather after really hearing the "Diamond Sea" in its entirety. Although I totally respect the fact that you think Goo is a great album (I've met plenty of other people that feel the same way you do), I can't believe that you find it significantly better than Washing Machine.
dude, goo is not their best record, in fact it blows compared to post daydream and pre daydream. they don't progress on this album, they actually kind of regress in comparison to daydream. thanks. (Blake G. Seitz)
deserves a 12 just for tunic!!!!!!!!!!!!!
because of "Dirty Boots" (which every critic calls "an obvious DN throwaway track), i initially liked this album enough to give it an 8 or so, but as i realized the stupidity of many of the songs (most notably "Tunic", "Kool Thing"), and became irritated by the fact that they actually seem to think this album is ultra-cool and not slick, the rating was knocked down a bit. to me, it's the world's first bland alt-rock album. i haven't listened to it in awhile, but it gets a 5.5, i think...
I suppose we just have different feelings towards screeching guitar noise in the middle of every song. oh well.
With the exception of "Mote" this album is a complete piece of shit. With a few exceptions, most of everything after this is, too. These geezers used to be a force to be reckoned with about a decade and a half ago, but it's been evident for years now that they should just retire and raise their little chimpanzee, Coco. (Andrew Murray)
Goo is a piss-poor effort, and Tunic is plain embarrassing. The production is abysmal, atonal. There's nothing wrong with long songs per se - cf Daydream Nation - but the songs on Goo don't go anywhere and are boring. (Sergio)
This album is very good. Disapeerer is the best of their songs, with Mote as a runner up. Deserves a 9 (Andrew Comber)
GOO is certainly SYs glossiest album, but i thinks its their worst, along with Experimental Jet set, Trash and No star.All the songs on GOO are well.......boring, they seem to be going thru a creative lull on this album. Sure, the songs are catchy, but big deal, what band couldnt do that if they tried? Blink 182 do it all the time and they fucking suck! You seem preoccupied with grilling the long 'middle sections' of SY songs. Any song that seems to challenge you (i.e guitar midsections)you just slam, and because this album, well, doesnt really have any, you call it great? 8\10?? no way.

And DIRTY?? A 3?!? are you completely nuts?? You think Goo is better than Dirty!?? it boggles the mind! The big 3 are EVOL, Daydream Nation, and Sister.... Washing Machines fucking great too. You need to listen to them more man you really dont seem to know what you're talking about. "Sassy Thurston rockers"??? excuse me?? what the hell does that mean (Joel Dunham)
I think Goo broke new ground in its way. It's kind of a like a concept album about all of these kids who know each other in a sort of "On the Road" way. There's all of these references to people with odd nicknames: Scooter and Jinx, Cinderella, Kool Thing, Mary Christ, etc. The way that they changed emphasis on this one to chords make it sound like some epic saga about all of these friends. Dirty Boots is so exciting, how can anyone think it sucks? Tunic is great. Disappearer I didn't like at first until I listened to it a few times. The really cool feedback noise at the very beginning and end is the key to understanding this one. The same sound appears in the middle of the "solo" section. The whole song is about those few bits of the song. Great album, but not their greatest.
in it's accessibility, this is one of my favorite SY albums. like what good pop music should be, that's how i hear it. and they were gonna call it "blowjob" but geffen said no.
The most accessable these guys have ever gotten (well, maybe besides Sister without all that lo-fi noise and Dirty without all that cacophonious sound heard here and there), but that doesnt exclude the fact that there are some awesome songs on here. "Dirty Boots", "Kool Thing", "My Friend Goo" (despite the obnoxious vocals) are all great, ready-for-MTV songs. "Mote" and "Tunic" are also favorites of mine. Some mediocre songs here and there but for the most part, its very deserving of an 8.
Why the hell do sonic youth fans crack the shits when they make beautiful catchy music ?? HAHAHAHAHA TELL YOU WHAT... YOU TAKE NYC GHOSTS N FLOWERS AND ILL HAVE THIS, HAAAAAHAAAHAAAHAHA. YOU'RE GETTIN' THE BETTER DEAL.....WINK WINK....(in denial pratts) (Steve)
I have a theory that some indie bands intentionally save their weak material for their major label debut, so when they catch flak for the shitty album they can retort with "You only hate it cuz it's on a major." Case in point- How the fuck did they go from Daydream Nation to THIS? I've only listened to this record 5 or 6 times, and I've been a Sonic Youth fan for five years. Of their two "sellout" albums, Dirty beats this one out by far. At least that one has some nifty overproduced guitar noise, Ian MacKaye's first and only major label appearance ever, and a cover of the Untouchables' "Nic Fit".
I'll agree with the 8. At the time, it was a little disappointing after Daydream Nation, partly because it was shorter, but also because it was on Geffen Records. Sonic Youth on a major label? I had even been shocked when Daydream Nation came out on Enigma (which was kinda a major label until it went kaput a couple years later). "Alternative Rock" used to mean exactly that - an alternative to the kind of stuff major labels put out. Let the record show that this was one of the first albums to break that barrier (though Candy Apple Grey preceded it by a few years, nobody gave a commercial crap at the time).

After the shock and the "sell out!" cries died down, however, what we were left with was a nice tight album of mostly great songs! "Mote" is one of my all time favorites (go Lee!), as much for its exciting (yes! exciting) drone outro as for its melodically rockin verses and chori (the plural of chorus, see). "Cinderella's Big Score" is one of the few Kim songs from this period that don't send me running to the nearest toilet. Just kidding, Kimmy! You're beautiful! Anyway, better quit while I'm ahead. 8/10.
All I can say is that I like it better than Daydream Nation barely because the production is nice. However, same deal content wise. 2/3 of the songs own and the other 1/3 are not so great. In my opinion, the singer's voice does not fit in with the direction that this album is headed. It makes it seem slightly forced. But anyways...

Nice production. Same Old Hit and Miss type of album.
This is my favorite Sonic Youth record and a lot of people would agree with me that it deserves a 10.

Add your thoughts?

Sassy Single 7" - Sassy 1990
Rating = 7

Boy, they went all out on this one. Side one is a cover of the New York Dolls' "Personality Crisis" featuring double-tracked Kim vocals and a piano/acoustic guitar/drum arrangement that may be Sonic Youth or may just be a karaoke machine (sounds more like the latter, to be honest). Hey! What's that tappy-tappy-tappy person climbing noise? Is that somebody on the steps? (sounds more like the ladder, to be honest). Ha ha! Good old homonyms and the havoc they wreak!

Side two, on the other hand, is a terrific demo version of the gantastic Goo song "Dirty Boots" that sounds a bit grittier than the slick DGC version and ends on a scream. I love this song. It's songs like this that remind me I don't actually hate Sonic Youth anywhere near as much as I pretend to. What a sick, swervy, tipsy-turvy chord progression! And that lyric about "sick sex six" or whatever gets stuck in my head all week day!

But let's face it; side one is just another Ciccone Youth-style kick in the bedpan. As such, I award a Sassy 7 to the Sassy Single 7". Remember Sassy? It was a magazine for grrrls! One time they even reviewed the Ramones' Brain Drain! I remember it clearly because the reviewer raved about how it was a hard rock album without a single ballad, suggesting that her needle must have hopped clear over "Come Back Baby."

Incidentally, I have a copy of the new Sonic Youth album Rather Ripped. Isn't it hilarious that I decided to review THIS piece of shit for you instead of that one? HA HA AHA AH! OH HAA AHAHAHAH! I'll review that one next week though. Don't get your wanties in a pad. Here's a sneak preview for you: "Wow! They've radically changed their sound!"


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Dirty Boots EP - DGC 1991
Rating = 7

Ha ha, drunk people! Let me tell you about this drunk person at Bingo tonight. Oh, he was a SCREAMO! First, he accosted everybody who came in by asking them, "Did you hear what happened in California today? Prop 8 was repealed! Isn't it great?" Then about an hour later, he grabbed my friend Crystal's breast, which seemed somehow inappropriate. Then shortly afterwards, he tried to steal a tip off the bar before the bartender saw it. Finally, he pulled two 20-dollar bills out of his pocket and put them into the drink of the woman sitting next to him! Har har! Can you imagine? Bingomaster Rick had to throw the bastard out on his ear!

In what I considered to be an entertaining exchange later, I said to Bingomaster/Karaokemaster Rick, "Can you believe how drunk that guy was? Well I never!" and he looked me long in the tooth, put his hand on my shoulder and said, "Mark. Imagine that guy singing a song called 'Prop 8' -- and that's you." WHEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Dirty Boots EP features the radio edit of "Dirty Boots" along with live versions of two Goo songs (one of which is entitled "Dirty Boots"), one Daydream National, one Sister and one rare rockin' instrumental that goes nowhere at all, but does so hookily. The live material has very good sound, and the guitars are loud, chimey and magical. Granted, "Eric's Trip" has never been a Prind fave, and Kim sings "Cinderella's Big Score" with a feedbag of phlegm strapped over her mouth, but if you're looking for some well-recorded live material from the band's early '90s Sassy era, this is much better than Hold That Tiger.

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Dirty - DGC 1992.
Rating = 3

What a piece of shit. Well-produced garbage -- throwaway noise blasts and generic indie rock. All the bad ideas that weren't on Goo are on here. Butch Vig of Garbage fame convinced them to 'streamline' and 'tighten up' their sound to appeal to the new grunge audience, and they dumbed down their sound into one of the most boring and predictable records I have ever heard. "Drunken Butterfly" is a great noise number, and a few songs are undeniably hooky (particularly "Sugar Kane" and "Purr"), but conceptually, it's empty effortless noisy rock by a bunch of confused middle-agers trying to prove that they're still the sassiest band in America. There are exactly two songs on here - the one with the predictable indie rock chords and the noisy screamy one - and every other track sounds exactly like them.

The only thing more painful than listening to this album was sitting through the live show that I saw on this tour. Thurston wouldn't shut up! He thought he was so fuckin' funny, cussing and yelling and playing his shitty music. Asshole. I'm glad this record didn't make them the next Nirvana; they didn't deserve it.

Reader Comments (Henry Babcock)
Sonic Youth is FUCKING INCREDIBLE live. I've seen 'em live three times and every time they totally blew me away. You really must be fucked up to think they're not worth a lowsy 17 bucks. For a show last year I payed about $80 to see 'em (200 miles of buses, ticket and a shirt) and thinking back, I would have payed twice that.
This was the first thing by Sonic Youth that I ever bought and it turned me against them forever. Ben Weasel shouldn't have even bothered doing anything for them ever (on the Master-Dik/Beat On The Brat ep). What was going through his mind?? He is THE MAN, after Joey of course, and Thurston will always just be a whiner who couldn't put together a song if his mom helped him do it. I couldn't even listen to this album the whole way through, it sucked so bad. God, I wasted 13 bucks on it that I could've used to buy something cool by my man Joey or Ben. (Mike Lomax)
How can you even consider giving diRty a three? Sure it is a bit of a hey look at me I'm with Nirvana. But surely a band has to progress and this was just them giving a shot at Grunge/Indie rock. And if they hadn't made diRty they wouldn't be where they are now. Besides diRty rules anyway!! From the opening screeches of "100%" to the lo-fi drone of "Creme Brulee" it plays havoc with you and then throws you away!!! No way is Goo three times as good as diRty. (Alistair Schmahl)
Sister is still one of the best, but you are right in giving Goo a high score, as it is really good. I, however, disagree with your review of Dirty, as songs like "Sugar Kane," "100%," and "Youth Against Fascism" deserve better treatment. (Alexandre Linhares Matias)
Alright man, "Chapel Hill" is good but that's it (maybe "Youth Against Fascism" can make me tap my feet). But you have to admit, Butch Vig is doing well.
I agree w/ Mike, Ahlister - I know I misspelled that, sorry - and Henry. My personal fave, though the whole thing rules, is "Wish Fulfillment." Love the lyrics and the voice; I'm almost positive Lee does it - not sure though. This song reminds me of my girl friend and is good when I miss her and she's not around. (Amy)
I don't understand how you can say bad things about Dirty. I just don't. Dirty is a great record. I can understand if you don't like the alien. Maybe you fear such things. But saying sonic youth and suck in the same sentence is punishable by death in some countries. (Federico Varela)
Dirty is an excellent disk - seven points. ARGENTINA is a sonic country.
U just suck dude. U have no conception of art and no musical tasty when U give Dirty a 3.
I don't know how the fuck you gave Dirty a 3 and Experimental..... a 8. Dirty by far was one of their best albums. "Drunk Butterfly" is the best song they ever made and there is not one bad song on that album. AND YOU FUCKING SAW SONIC YOUTH LIVE. I would do anything to see them live no matter how much the album sucked cause they're such a fabulous band.
I'd just like to say that I really enjoy listening to Dirty. Tracks like "100%", "Wish Fulfillment" and "Sugar Kane" I really enjoy. I feel that you are being a little hard on a band that you otherwise really like. And so fuckin' what they didn't turn out being the next Nirvana. You really should give this record a proper chance. (you've probably only listened to it once!). (Mike Allen)
Nobody's mentioned "Orange Rolls, Angel's Spit" which is, by far, the best song on this slightly better than good album.

Matthew Terrebonne
mark! SEE THEM AGAIN! PLEASE! i've seen them three times, and it isn't enough. You keep saying dirty was a fluke- so was that show! The two i've seen since were a wonderful mix of EVERYTHING, not just the latest album. By all means they are INCREDIBLE live.
Yeah, but he's still better than Liam Gallagher. "Too-DAHY is gunna bee th' DAHY that therrgonna throw it back tah YOO" man, I want to hurt him.
A much more focused and sophisticated effort than Goo. All the songs the others have mentioned are good, but I gotta go with "Theresa's Sound World". I've heard it at least 50 times, and it still gets me. What a vibe on that song! Sure, Dirty is referred to as their big sell-out album, but who cares? It's still a quality record with at least six rock solid songs. (Johnno)
thank god that there are other people out there who thought this album was crap. I can't remeber buying an album and being so excited about it and then being so disappointed by it. I like "Chapel hill" and "on the strip" but the rest of it!! mate after an album which had as many good tunes on it as goo, the only thing I think that got left of this album was the turd being dropped on the inside sleeve. An excruciatingly bad album from one of my favourite bands, and an appropriate review.
Oh my God I can't believe you gave Dirty a 3! It is worth so much more than that. The first time I listened to it, it was like, okay. But it grew on me and now I think it's one of their best. Except for "100%" and "Swimsuit Issue", I think this is a fine album.
you make Dirty sound horrible! i like it. two people with different opinion. AMERICA (Mark Cybulski)
I couldn't agree more with Prindle. Not only with Dirty, but with Sonic Youth in general. How come every time I pick up a Sonic Youth album for a good price, I end up being disappointed? Where the hell is the art in banging the shit out of your guitar? Next to the Velvet Underground (right on again Mark), this is one of the most overrated bands ever. (Matt Bowman)
Just stumbled across your page. Excellent, by the way. I must disagree with you, though on your rating of Dirty. Yeah, I guess it's pretty grunge or whatnot. But didn't SY kinda INSPIRE grunge in the first place? I've been a serious SY fan since Sister and to this day I still consider Dirty one of the best. There is WAY more noise and dissonance on it than Experimental Jet Set. There was no way songs like "On the Strip" (or most of the songs for that matter) could be played on pop radio, so I don't really see the grunge-sellout connection. Anyhow, that's my piece. Keep up the good work.
I'll give you this one, I personally believe that Dirty is their worst album. It taught them a lesson though, I know that much. "Chapel Hill" rocks though, it's an amazing tune, "100%" is good, so is "Theresa's Sound World", "Sugar Kane". Personally, I'm not trying to sound sexist or anything but most of the tunes that Kim sings on, on this record suck. So do the tunes Thurston sings on too. It seems Lee is the only smart one on this record, ducking out to sing on only one tune. Then again there's "Genetic" off the "100%" single, that Lee sings on as well, it rocks as well. (Jared Nelson)
Most people sit down after hearing many Sonic Youth's earlier works and try to take in Dirty as a great work of conceptual genius about pushing the boundaries of new worlds in feedback and noise. Well guess what, that is not what it is. In my opinion the noise-rock tendencies of Sonic Youth have only been one of their many, and most satisfying, aspects. Melody, killer hooks, and good songs make up a ton of what they are really about. The reviewer on this site gave Goo and Confusion Is Sex overly high ratings, for while they are noisy and fun, they really do not show much talent.

Dirty shows off an incredible amount of impeccable talent, esp. in Thurston's songs. I do not believe this a chest pounding announcement of "Hey, we know Nirvana," but instead a powerful place-putter saying "Hey! We made Nirvana!" Not on one part of the album does Sonic Youth sound like they are trying to replicate the grunge sound, but instead they are mocking it and showing off how they could be mainstream successes.

This is also a great album because of what it does sonically within the format of a somewhat nice, clean pop song. I believe that one way to show true talent is to see what you can do with your ideas within a more accepted format (see Allen Ginsberg's America, Dilsey's section in The Sound and the Fury, John Coltrane's A Love Supereme [somewhat], Seinfeld, and here Sonic Youth reak absolute pleasurable havoc on the rock and roll song. They may commit to I-IV-V chord progressions ("Sugar Kane") blues soloing ("Purr"), all out pop hooks ("100%"), and pop melodies ("Creme Brulee"), but never do they let those ideas dominate the songs. They instead infuse these rock standards with a new sense of adventure and danger that they so badly needed, without sounding pretentious.

And if these reasons are not good enough to listen to this album, then just listen to it as nothing but a standard grunge record, having no association with some New York noise punks that kid who lives in your cousins basement and smells funny told you about. (Wim Maesschalck)
Dirty is ten times as good as goo. Have you ever listened to it? it contains great songs such as "JC", "Drunken Butterfly" and "Chapel Hill" (Marc)
I loved your sonic youth dirty review. Even though I completely disagree and like it immensely, I thought the things you said about Thurston Moore on stage were funny. (see, how do you like that? Two guys having such difference of opinions and refrain from becoming hostile with each other. And so close to the "Apocalyptic Millenium" too. People are gonna be really disappointed when the world doesn't end and they have they have to go to work the next day.)

all right, I'm gonna re-heat the chicken-cheese steak and fries I had for lunch.
This one's as good as Goo. I can't believe you down it to a 3. "Wish Fulfillment", "Swimsuit ... (heck I forget the name of that one)", and the anti-Republican "Youth Against Facism" alone make this a 9 or a 10. To me Daydream Nation, Goo, and Dirty are the pinnacle of Sonic Youth.
Hmmm. Not sure how Goo gets the ten and then Dirty gets a three. They basically follow the same formula ( though, admittedly, Dirty is a hell of a lot cleaner and more poppy than Goo). I look at Dirty with this in mind: This is not Confusion-era SY, nor is it Sister-era SY, and later on they would become even MORE inaccessible with albums like Washing Machine and ATL. So, if they want to try something new, by trying a more commercial "grungy" type of album, than so be it. I mean, it's not like the record company would be able to pressure them to change their style ( I don't think they would let that happen). So, it's basically what they wanted to do. And still, I think there are some GREAT ideas on this one. "Wish Fulfillment"? Hell yes. I love Lee's voice, and the chorus in that one. "Chapel Hill" and "On the Strip" are awesome. "Sugarkane" rocks. The point I'm trying to make is this-enjoy it for what it is. Gets an 8 up my way.
So, the songs are catchy, so was TEENAGE RIOT! Yet everyone seems to forget that. Also, how can you call an album a sellout when it's so damn noisy. A tidbit, Tereasa's Sound World was such a bitch to record, one day the just played it live in the studio in one take out of the blue and Butch Vig was there to record it.
it was kind of a disappointment at the time. i mean, the whole reason i got into SY was to get away from the grunge thing. but now i think, "at least it's not Bush or Third Eye Blind or Live!" it totally rocks, getting the most out of the production. these songs (esp. "100%", "Chapel Hill", "Theresa's Sound World") won't be considered cool underground classics like their old stuff, but they should be considered the absolute best (along w/ Nirvana's In Utero) of '90s major label, grunge/modern rock: 7.5 (Andrew Murray)
Dirty and Daydream Nation are my joint favourite (sp - I'm British) Sonic Youth LPs (perhaps they should make the title of their next one begin with a 'd'). You're wide of the mark with 3(!): how could you resist this? It's the best grunge album ever, you can play it at a party yet its got amazing instrumental breaks/effects, they write about sexual politics without it making it sound trite, a perfect statement of Sonic Youth's essence. I love (nearly) every song dearly, but "Purr" is my fave. (Roelof)
Woohoo man, giving Dirty a 3 is ehmm... a crime, i think! It contains some of their best songs, "Theresa's Sound World" with the perfect noise/"relaxed" rock changes and the classics "Sugar Kane" and "Youth Against Fascism" !!
I usually agree with your reviews and even when I don't they are usually funny so I'll quietly agree to disagree.....but I feel a whinge coming on after reading this review. 3!!??! Being a fan of Sonic Youth I'm used to people saying "that's not even music!" but you like them enough to give Confusion Is Sex a well earned 8 so what is so bad about Dirty? I wouldn't say it was as good as EVOL, Sister, Daydream Nation or Washing Machine but out of the 15 songs (or 16 if you're buying vinyl) only Nic Fit is anything less than very good. It seems that the exact same things you liked about Goo are the things that make you dislike Dirty...big production, mature, slick rock. I suspect that if they had released Dirty in 1990 while Nirvana weren't selling millions you would have given it a far kinder review........and I'm sure you'd have pissed all over Goo if it was released in 1992. So they wanted to sell a few records for a change, what's so bad about that? Just give it a few more listens and try and forget for a moment that it actually sold a few copies, it's a really good album. (Chris Williams)
Thank you for hating Dirty as much as I do. I checked this album out of the AV section of my local library, taped it without listening to it first, and then listened to it in the car on my way to film class one night, and I felt like the biggest sucker in the world. And I didn't even pay for the album! Between Kim Gordon's increasingly irritating "horny feminist" persona and Thurston Moore's endless repetitive parade of "Hooray for outsiders and losers and anything outside of the mainstream" songs, it was basically just a big waste of fiftysomething minutes of my life that I can never get back. I did like that one song... I don't know which one, though, because I taped over this album with Wowee Zowee by Pavement. So the moral is, I should've listened to your review in the first place. So should everyone else. (James L. Tichenor)
Wow Mark, that sux that you didn't catch Sonic Youth on a good day. I've only seen them once, last year it was. I was so fucking skeptical about the whole thing. They're getting old, they're not progressing as much, so on and so forth. I haven't even gotten Washing Machine or A Thousand Leaves yet, (wow i'm really behind on the ball there considering I love this band so much) but let me tell you, Thurston hardly spoke a word and the band just launched into one song after the next. It was absolutely amazing. The music would drift and swirl and rise and ebb and scream and shout and reach the incredible apogee of grinding schreeches and otherworldy yelps like machines being overrun to the point of overheating and exploding and the sound just FILLED the place. It overwhelmed me in other words, and this was their new stuff they were playing, man, which i don't even know that well. The catchy stuff completely escaped me as I'm not familiar with it yet, but everything else grabbed me by the throat and would NOT let go. I was shaken after this experience. I didn't even do any drugs before or after it (a first for me, hehe). I sure as hell hope they come to Philly again and that their next show is just as awesome. And Mark, if they pop in your 'hood again, give em another chance, they deserve it.
you're obviously a stupid fucking prick who thinks he's all badass with his reviews of underground bands and shit, but there are so many people who have much much better taste than you. what a fuckhead you are.

anyway, where the hell do you get off saying that DIRTY is a horrible album? what albums have you put out, man? DIRTY is as impressive as anything the youth have ever put out. you fucking suck
dirty is the best sonic youth album by far, theressas sound world, jc and on the strip are three of the most incredible songs ive ever heard. most of you have your head up your asses (Joel Dunham)
You're right. Dirty is Sonic Youth's weakest album. I think that they made it a point just to sound belligerent and obnoxious as some sort of indictment to everybody else and just ended up sounding like everybody else. It does have its moments though: Swimsuit issue (a truthful rendition of the experience of porn), Chapel Hill, and Purr is exhiliarating. (Michael J. West)
Fuck Dirty. It's maybe the worst Sonic Youth album, following up their last great album, Goo. Dirty is a stupid, mean-spirited album that thinks it's much better than it really is. In fact, it just wanders around back alleys, hollering at anyone it encounters, "I'm a better album than GOO!" and if anyone disagrees with it, it whips out the package right there and pees on the dissenting party's shoes.

Is that the kind of album YOU want in your collection? (Matthew Bray)
I only have the 2 Youth albums this and Daydream Nation, so I wont go around Pretending I am a massive fan of theirs.

But anyway I got Daydream Nation first, though that did not bowl me over completely like some stuff does, it did at least make me wanna go and explore Sonic Youth more, it had the feeling of one of those give it a few listens you will get into it more albums, and I have got into more with each listen, a good album (Not as great as people make it out to be though)

Anyway I'm not commenting on that one....oh yeah Dirty....I have to agree it is a piece of shit, it has a few a good singles on it, that are decent alt-rock radio fodder, but surely that is not what the Youth are all about, when on form they can produce some of the best experimental guitar music around, but for the most part on Dirty they are far from on form,.....most of this album bores the proverbial pants of me .........infact this album has kinda put me off exploring them further.....I have better bands to get into more, why should I bother with this rubbish ?.........however listening to Daydream Nation, makes me think maybe I should bother with them more.....but Dirty sure as hell does suck.......Maybe a 3 is a little harsh, because the singles off this are good for what they are, i nfact excellent....I was hoping the rest of the album would be up to the standard of those I'd give it a 5, but still a 5/10 mark = crap album in my book.
Is it just me, or is Dirty the most fan dividing album ever released. Fans love or hate it, non-fans love or hate it. I own two albums, dirty and goo. And I love them both. I think the only track on dirty that someone hasn't expressed a loving of is JC, so my vote for "yet another reason dirty deserves more than 3" is JC.
leave it to butch vig to mess up a good band. hey guys, why don't you play the same three songs over and over for a whole album. we all know you're geniuses, so let's get boring. there are some good pop tunes though. and "wish fulfillment" is incredible.
Nice to see that other people aren't happy with Dirty, either. there are several couple good tracks, but I consider this one of their worst. Drunken Butterfly and Orange rolls, Angel Spit are so bad it's embarrassing. I once heard that Lee supposedly was upset that more of his songs did not get on this album. Considering the crap that WAS put on it, he had good reason to be angry.
Yeah, you're pretty right on. It's easily my least favorite Sonic Youth album. I skip every single song Kim sings on this one. Her voice on this record is so damn atonal, obnoxious, and.. grunty. Really. It's not very sexy, Kim!!

But on the other hand, Wish Fulfillment is in my top five Sonic Youth songs easily. Too bad the majority of the rest of the album blows. (Sugar Kane is alright, and 100% is catchy, if one of the most conventionally structured [that is to say, boring] songs they've ever written.)

And I suppose I should mention here that seeing Sonic Youth was the best show of my life. They played most of my favorite songs (unfortunately not the aforementioned Wish Fulfillment, though.) and did neat noise/improv bits in the midst of songs. I like it when bands fuck with things live, which SY certainly did. Hoarfrost was played in a medley with Mote, and it was entrancing. Schizophrenia and Teenage Riot made appearances. As did the better tracks from their newest album (NYC G&F, Side2Side, Free City Rhymes). Not a bad show _at all_. My ears were ringing three days later, though. It made me decided to start wearing earplugs to shows. Yeah.
Well, i like it! It was the first Sonic Youth album i heard that first got me into em though, so maybe thats why. I agree with most people here that "Wish Fullfillment" is an absolutely great song on here as well, plus some other great songs like "Chapel Hill". Call me an asshole, but i give it an 8! (Ben Mattison)
thank god for mark prindle. because mark prindle is a level headed guy, such as i. and he does recognize that sonic youth are innovative and whatnot while simultaneously recognizing that they put out loads of crap, like all of dirty. the only people who say they love this album never listen to it. uninspired, flat, and gutless.

i really like "the diamond sea". maybe i'll buy a thousand leaves, if the trauma that is dirty has lifted itself off of my world-weary shoulders.
Why has nobody mentioned Purr yet? That is an awesome song!!!
I agree with Prindle. This record is so fuckin terrible. I mean it goes nowhere. The bass playing the same "catchy" note over and over again through every song, and the guitar-noises sound so ... well good... but they had no coherence with the songs. Also, Thurston is a loser, and idiot... He doesn't look like a rocker, he looks more like an idiot character from a sitcom, one that runs errands and has a crush with a girl who doesn't give a shit about him (canned laughs) don't buy this one, but "Confusion is sex", "Evol" or "Experimental, jet set..." (Lettfers Art)
Well there's been much said about your silly reviews but what the hey I'll throw in my opinion.

1. If you hate Sonic Youth (because it's not the kind of music you enjoy) why write so many reviews. I mean I hate Rap music but do you see me writeing 'bout how bad it is? - You don't.

2. Maybe you should check another performance - ever thought of that??

3. You smell/look like a piece of shit

4. The pity about idiots like you is that your parents should have been Jews in The Third Reich but haven't been.

Final Word: I hope you and everyone you care about dies of cancer (soon as possible). Go listen to Nirvana and cry your heart out how bad it is that Kurt died so young and with him all modern rock music. You little pussy go cut you dick off and wear a pink skirt.

But there's still a slim (thinner than you dick!!) chance to save your soul. Erase those Sonic Reviews and let someone else write his opinion. I hope you burn in hell and that your family suffers for all eternaty. You fucking idiot piece of shit cocksucking man prefering all american kommunist nazi Bush voter idiot assliker. Next time while looking in the mirror naked turn around and maybe then you realise it was you ass!

I sincerlly hope I could express my hate to you exectly like I wanted to!

Please kill yourself. But to confice you that I'm a nice person I will also accept if you get yourself nudderd. Just make sure you'll never have children. And if you will I kill them for you - with you.
Your mother is THREE!
Who is this "Lettfers Art" guy anyway? And what's with these death wishes at Mark and his family? Please, everyone: Don't ever write stuff like that in emails, especially if it's going to be published for general consumption. Aside from just being rude and heartless (which is okay - I can see how the Dirty album can really bring out the worst in us), it's just dangerous. What if something terrible suddenly happened to Mark or a member of his family? A little detective work might lead the Fuzz right to this here site - hmmmm any clues? who coulda dunnit? find anything at all? WHAMMO! Here's something! - and just because you typed some glib bullshit you didn't really mean (if you DID mean it, I hope they find you and fry your ass). I work in a highly political business environment, and I've learned that you should NEVER put anything in an email that you wouldn't mind seeing on the front page of the newspaper. Once it's in writing, it's there for eternity.

All right, on to Dirty by Sonic Youth. I honestly don't see the problem with this album. I admit it's pretty dated, but really, it was more of a one-off experiment in the grunge thing which we now kinda take for granted, but at the time it was pretty new and cutting-edge. I like to think of this album as the one with all the "air guitar" songs on it. I love air guitaring to "100%", "Theresa's Sound World", "Sugar Kane" (which should be on classic rock radio), and "Youth Against Fascism". On the minus side, the token political commentary in many of the songs (including that last one I just mentioned) is kinda corny, as are the coy and contrived album cover graphics. All this kinda makes SY seem a little cocky, and maybe there's some truth in that. But it didn't last - and that's the key. They went back and slowly but surely became inscrutable "artistes" again. As long as they don't crawl TOO far up their own asses, as they often come dangerously close to doing.
I was reading your Sonic Youth reviews and found Lettfers Art's reply and thought it was probably the best reader comment ever, especially in retaliation for not enjoying the Sonic Youth album Dirty.

Which I don't even have.
Hmmm...I'd've given it a 6, but I can see where you're coming from. Sonic Youth try to make "Nevermind" and end up falling on their faces. Still, though, there are some really good songs, like "100%," "Youth Against Fascism," "Sugar Kane," "Theresa's Sound World," and "Swimsuit Issue." I just don't remember any of the rest.

That reader comment from the Dutch guy is absolutely fucked up. it doesn't matter whether or not he was joking. it's disgusting, idiotic, and nauseatingly tasteless. What a pathetic puddle of puke.
dirty is a standout 9.5

you must be high.
I agree, this album SUCKED. OK, maybe it didn't suck so bad that it deserves a 3, but it's certainly their worst record ever, with the possible exception of Bad Moon Rising. I remember buying it when it came out and being all excited before listening to it. I really TRIED to like it, but it's just an ugly sounding, uncreative record, for the most part. Kim Gordon started her habit of screeching here, Thurston sounds all macho--only Lee Ranaldo really has it going on. The biggest problem with this record is that it sounds like Sonic Youth are trying to make a Mudhoney record. Now, I like Mudhoney fine, but and I understand that they were influenced by Sonic Youth, but SY sounds like absolute crap when trying to make these basic chord-oriented songs. I liked grunge as much as the next guy, but these guys were not a grunge band and should never have tried to be one. It really sounds dumbed-down to me--one of the sadder and more embarrassing moments in the early 90's. Thank god that they took a major left turn on their next record.
MARK!!! My experience was EXACTLY the same as yours!! Blown away by how horrid and trying 'Dirty' was, then shocked by the uber-obnoxious Thurston at an extremely low impact live show (coupled with their sad attempt to try and convince the public that they were old school hardcore, remember that ridiculousness?). This was made far worse by the fact that I saw them open for Neil Young in Portland, Me to a packed house of murderous mountain men who - no shit- howled non-stop for their blood throughout their entire set. These circumstances actually made them play with a violent energy that got wilder and wilder, finally peaking with a mind melting version of 'Expressway To Yr Skull' - I'll tell you, the shimmering feedback that ends that song coupled with a few thousand screaming lumberjacks (no exageration!!) will never leave my memory - it was fucking beautiful.

UNFORTUNATELY, 'Dirty' is the entry level record for about 90% of their fan base, so you have to fight peoples nostalgia when discussing it's wild sucktitude (when compared to most of their discography - I'll take 'Dirty' over ANY Pearl Jam or Alice In Chains any day!). They undeniably did the smart money thing by writing SY by numbers. I'm willing to bet that this is their top selling record. They went so far as to recycle riffs from earlier records creating, essentially, a SY 'template' - so the cat-in-the-hat kids wouldn't freak on another SY records 'otherness'. They already heard these sounds in a safe, familiar grunge form!

While I feel that their last few records (Murray St. / Sonic Nurse / Rather Ripped) are thematically interchangable and occasionally lyrically embarassing (looking at you, Kim Gordon), they were never again as dumb as 'Dirty'. (Michael J. VanderVeen)
Most of your reviews are utterly ridiculous.
This is what you said about My Bloody Valentine:
"They also put out around eightytwelve gabillion EPs before their debut full-length Isn't Anything, but those don't matter because as everybody knows, an EP isn't a real record any more than a woman is a real person."
I'll let that comment speak for itself. Sonic Youth's performances are incredibly loud, and refuse to be self-ashamed. They love what they're doing. You gave In Rainbows a nine out of ten, as well as Twin Cinema. That's a little much is it not? But then you give Dirty a three out of ten. Let me start by saying Sonic Youth created grunge, and they don't even like it. They liked Nirvana. Dirty doesn't even remotely sound like Nirvana, not in the slightest. Nirvana sounds like Sonic Youth though. Sonic Youth's first ep came out in 1982. This really was the first indie rock record. Nothing in the eighties sounded like that, nothing. Confusion is Sex was really the first grunge record, and no, it doesn't sound like Nirvana. It sounds loud, ugly, and unashamed. It is an extremely emotional record that sounds like their no wave predecessors. It also has it's roots in hardcore punk. The hardcore punk scene was happening at exactly this time. So actually, marshottentot, you should do your research. Take a look at this (, are you really going to tell me that this isn't hardcore punk? 1983, and probably one of the only bands of their kind playing in France. Back to In Rainbows, you think Dirty is uninspired? This is laughable. Have you ever heard the song "Faust Arp"? Not really what you'd call inspired, sounds more like it's a little tired to me. Sonic Youth's sound changes on every one of their albums, this is a good thing! I consider it to be progression! "Faust Arp" sounds like the same old Radiohead technique, rehashed, completely and totally undesirable. Now, I think that you would only have such a heated and emotional response to Dirty if it affected you somehow. The only really great bands are the bands that are either worshipped or despised. Sonic Youth is without question one of these bands. I think that you felt insecure about the fact that Thurston doesn't care what you think about him. He plays his music with reckless abandon. He truly doesn't care what you, Mark Prindle, think. This, I suspect, makes you feel quite uncomfortable. "Celebrating thirteen years of lousy record reviews." Lousy is the key word here. Sonic Youth is before your time. As is the Velvet Underground. Have you ever heard the song "Candy Says"? Have you ever bothered to listen to the lyrics? To not do so is simply foolish, especially if you think your some kind of rock know-it-all. You're available for lectures? So what exactly have you done then. If I want to know your opinion, I can go to your less than mediocre review site. I'd like you to make a record, I'll listen to it. I honestly think I would feel reassured, that you suck. Dirty has a real Neil Young influence. Every Sonic Youth album every made has been played with a certain kind of freedom, they do what they like and what they feel sounds good. Feel is an essential word here. This keeps their music from being uninspired. Just because it's over your head doesn't mean it's uninspired. Dirty is awesome because it mixes this experimental music that they really craft in a very personal way and the sounds of Neil Young. Also the writing is particualarly good. "Wish Fulfillment" is about divorce. It's a very personal and deeply moving song. The melody is beautiful, the way that Lee sings it, and his choice of words. The finger picking it begins with, accompanied with that noise, is one of the most beautiful moments on the album. Sonic Youth's music has a real beat poetry influence, as well as almost sounding native american at times. Dirty mixes this beat poetry influence with Neil Young! How cool is that!? Take, for an example, the beautiful "JC" and "Purr." These songs are placed right next to each other for a reason. They have parts that coincide. At the end of JC three very simple notes are played, they are surrounded by noise, and you wonder, "when is this going to take off? I can feel it moving in another direction," but then it is suffocated by increasingly loud and ambient noise. The next song "Purr" has Neil Young written all over it. But after the first burst of noise and outragously fast guitar playing with that high-up-the-guitar-neck wailing that Sonic Youth does, the song breaks into a gorgeous reprise of JC. This reprise goes where JC didn't go at the end of the song. After which, the song accompanies Thurston's whammy-bared harmonics with Lee's Neil Young esque blues almost country solo. Sonic Youth has never done anything like that before or since, nor has anyone else. You think this music isn't inspired by beat poetry? Kim actually mentions Jack Kerouac on "JC", and what about the songs "Six Hits if Sunshine (for Allen Ginsberg)" or "Leaky Lifeboat (for Gregory Corso)"? These are among countless other references. So I would like to conclude by saying that Dirty came out four years before you started your review site, and it deserves a 10 along with your respect.
No thanks, and have a nice day.

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TV Shit (with Yamatsuka Eye) - Ecstatic Peace 1993.
Rating = 4

They should be ashamed of themselves for releasing this ridiculous piece of crap, and I should be SUPER-MEGA-BIG-GIGANTIC-LARGE ashamed of myself for giving it such a high grade. The CD is 9 minutes of the band making a bunch of noise and screaming the word "No!" Japcore? Grindcore? Noise? The only thing certain is that it's really funny. 'Cuz see, it's 4 different live "covers" of this old Youth Brigade song called "No II" (though I personally don't remember the original version being anywhere near this ludicrous). But it's just them bashing and screaming. All 4 times. And then there will be a pause and you'll hear a record being played. Not a Sonic Youth record. Some other record.

The CD is just stupid. To give you some indication of how stupid it is, I bought it off of ebay, got it in the mail, and had already REPOSTED it for sale on ebay before the 9 minutes were finished. I hope their intentions were comical and not artistic, because if I was judging this disc on artistic merit, I think I might have to grade it somewhere in the negative teens.

I'M A NEGATIVE TEEN! I'M A NEGATIVE TEEN! Ahh man Seattle is the shit. I predict it will be the next Seattle.

Reader Comments (Ziv)
I don't know what's more embarrassing - Sonic Youth releasing this 9 min. chunk of carrot-shit, or me paying $35 to get it.
this is a seriously hilarious record. i got it for four bucks thinking it was some rare experimental thing and then it ended up being a bunch of "NO!!!!!" and then some quiet part and then "NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" and then the cd was over.

i don't know if i would have found it that funny if i had paid serious money for it though so uhhh, sorry about that mark.

Add your thoughts?

Experimental Jet Set, Trash And No Star - DGC 1994.
Rating = 8

Having (thankfully) learned that making stupid music for idiots was not necessarily the ticket to Nirvana's fan base, Sonic Youth purposely throw this one together as quickly and loosely as possible, with absolutely NO care put into potential 'hit singles.' It still suffers from a few annoying 'sassy' rockers, but the majority of the songs find an older, wiser Sonic Youth rediscovering the joys of atmospherics and weird noises. Each song is different from the one that came before (in fact, the first song is ACOUSTIC, if you can believe that!), and Kim's numbers in particular -- especially "Bull In The Heather" and "Sweet Shine" -- put one in the mind of dark early Bad Moon Rising material. A bit inconsistent, but definitely a creative step in the good direction! It has tons of songs, and most of them are pretty memorable.

Reader Comments
I saw SY play an acoustic set a few years ago. I loved it. Almost everyone else didn't. Probably most of them came to see other bands, though. It was at the bridge concert. It blew me away. They were fuckin great. (anna hitler)
i thought it kicked-ass. this album finally got me hooked on the band. (The Levinsky's)
This was the first SY album I bought. I thought it was good then and still think it's good. Mellow. It reminds me a lot of "Pavement". A few excellent tracks, a lot of decent ones, no bad ones. While it is nowhere near one of my favorite SY albums, I listen to it quite a bit, it's a good one to sleep to, 7 out of 10. (Jacques Tremblay)
I don't dig that band, but "BULL IN THE HEATHER" really is a masterpiece.
I love this album, it's one of my favourites.
This one can only be viewed as a disappointment. Sure, some of the songs are really cool ("Bull In The Heather", "Sweet Shine", "Waist", "Bourgeois Reader"), but for the most part it's a REALLY inconsistent, lazy album. I don't know what they were thinking putting "Bone", "Self Obsessed and Sexxee" and "Androgynous Mind" in there. They're horrible. I give it a six.
Whenever I go to sleep to Jetset that bizarre secret track at the end wakes me up. Now, I sleep to the SYR eps, perfect (James L. Tichenor)
Whatever, i have one thing to say about this album, its pretty good. Not great or anything, just good. There are somewhat tedious rockers "Waist", but that doesn't make it a lousy song or a lousy album. I wouldn't give it as good a rating as you did, Mark, but it is pretty damn good. I think its the best SY album so far in terms of an actual group effort. I've only seen them live once, but let me tell you, it was amazing, they are really tight now and they create the hugest wall of sound. To be able to say that about a band that's been together nigh on 20 years is just.... amazing. They're looking old, and i really do question how much more artistic progression they can make, but maybe theyll surprise me.
somehow, this was the first album of SY's that i bought and i found it to be exactly what i was hoping that they would sound like - sinister, articulate, versatile and loud. granted, i was just fifteen and was coming off the heels of belly's "star" and U2's "zooropa" being the most listened-to albums of my collection (circa 1994, it's sad i know). and now that i've back-catalogued my way through their stronger material of the eighties, i can see where there are complaints about missing inspiration or revolutionary ideas, but how many times does one rock band (which they are, whether they'll admit it or not) have to reinvent the wheel, eight or ten albums into their career? i just know that the first time i heard 'winner's blues' on a rainy, southern september afternoon that my world just got twenty times as colourful in the period of about two minutes. the rest of the album had a similar, repeated effect for years to come - especially the song that made me fall in love with kim gordon as a vocalist, 'skink'.

for some reason, "washing machine" didn't take quite as well as it's predecessor, so i tuned out for a while. i've since rediscovered "jet set" and have taken a great liking to "evol" and "daydream nation". there maybe more significant albums by a band that's by and large deemed as "past their prime", but years from now, when i've long forgotten about rock being important for any reason besides whether or not i like it, i'll always have memories of being a late bloomer with a fine soundtrack for self-discovery. "jet set" is that for me.
Sonic Youth actually gets a hit here (granted, they've had MTV hits for Goo and Dirty too)!! "Bull In The Heather" was the first Sonic Youth song ive ever heard, and its quite the song. A lot of great tunes on this record, like "Sweet Shine", the surprizingly acoustic (but awesome in its simplicity) "Winners Blues", "Bourgeois Reader", etc.! I'll give this one a 9. (James Mohr)
The weird thing about Sonic Youth, which can be proven by the comments on this page, is that, while most smart people like Sonic Youth (sure, their too-hip alternative rock godfather status can bug you, but it doesn't make the records any less good, and, with the horrendous state of pop music today, all is forgiven), and most Sonic Youth fans agree that Daydream Nation is, at the very least, a really really good record that is among their best, NOBODY agrees on the other albums, and they all get called either their best or worst by many different SY fans. OK I guess that comment is true for all albums by all bands, but for SY its ESPECIALLY true. Or is it? I dunno. But if it is, I guess part of the reason is that, as Prindle says in his SY thesis statement, all of their albums are mixed bags.

Well anyway, since I started writing and might as well continue, I will say I think this album is really, really good. Not their best, but really good. It was the first I got (back in my sophomore year in HS, when Bull in the Heather was a radio semi-hit), and like many others it turned me on to them. So I'm glad Prindle likes it, a lot of people don't. The songs here are all over the place, more so than usual, but a surprising number are good, and the rest are interesting. And yeah, that Bull in the Heather, that songs the shit--I played nothing but that song straight for about a month and my parents probably still hate it more than any other song in history. And I played it the other day and know what? Its still the shit! Who the fuck is this Heather girl anyway? And unlike Courtney Love's (ass)Hole, another band that (I am seriously embarassed to write this, and I know I will regret it) I liked sophomore year (in my high school days! IN MY HIGH SCHOOL DAYS! you did stoopid things in high school too!), I still like Sonic Youth, who are still good.
To reply to Xspex, I have a theory which says that everybody Sonic Youth's first album they listened to think is the best, or one of the best. My cousin keeps sayin' that Murray Street is the best! I listened to Daydream Nation first, and yeah, I think is their best.

I haven't fully absorbed Experimental Jet Set Trash And No Star, I like it.I really like Kim songs, Bull In The Heater and Screaming Skull really do it for me. I haven't fully absorbed this record, but who cares if two or three songs do not work? There are fourteen tracks in here, and they're kind of short (except for Sweet Shine which lasts 5:20 with a secret track at 6:25) at about three minutes long, maybe two, maybe four. I like records with lotsa tracks.

Plus I love the production and the rich guitar textures. (Jonathan Shapiro)
This album broke the amazing winning streak SY was going on. Most of the songs sound like they're half-finished, and Butch Vig's smoggy production certainly doesn't elevate them. "Bull in the Heather" is a fantastic song (the video, featuring a sprite-like Kathleen Hanna, is a classic), and it was strong enough to get the album onto the British top ten. SY came back strong with WASHING MACHINE, but they were never the same after this album. (Brother Dave)
I really hated this album and have only beared listening to it about 3 times and the only reason I still have it is I love the first two tracks and figure I might want to listen to them some time.

But having read the positive things some people had to say about it here I thought I'd give it another chance so I put it on last night for the first time in quite a while. As usual it started off good - I love Winners Blues and Bull in the Heather. Starfield Road and Skink are not bad, not great, but listenable .. my attention is still held anyway. Then comes the dorky Screaming Scull and boring Self-Obsessed and suddenly I am really hating it. By the time Androgynous Mind comes on I've had enough and I put on Daydream Nation to restore sanity.

I respect SY tried something a bit different with this one, and after Dirty they probably needed to experiment. But for me some of it hits, most of it misses. 3/10.
Ok, I made a mistake. Everybody does. I have absorbed this record. And it sucks. Ok, not that much, it's merely "ok". They pulled off the 'trick to make a record seem better than it really is', as said by Ryan Atkinson: putting the best stuff at the beginning and at the end. I said, who cares if two or three songs do not really work? the thing is, many, many songs do not work, and many that do, in spite of the rich guitar textures, aren't that great (Winner's blues, Tokyo Eye, even Sweet Shine). My favourites are Bull in the heather - one of the best SY songs (and one with a lot of consensus), and Screaming Skull. That one I have to explain: It's not the many references to indie rock in the lyrics, something I don't care for (especially since I've only heard one Husker Dü song and that's all), but the song is so frickin' GRRRRROOOOVY. Yeah.

This was the beginning of the end, by the way. no record of theirs will top a 7 for me from now on. And this one is... a six.

Add your thoughts?

Washing Machine - DGC 1995.
Rating = 8

With Kim switching over to third guitar, Washing Machine presents a fuller, richer, more mature and relaxed Sonic Youth sound that strikes more moods and churns out much less generic guitar racket than their previous records. Sometimes, in fact, the moods are simply moods, created by basic note-and-chord sequences that anybody could play ("Becuz," "Saucer-Like," "Little Trouble Girl"), but Sonic Youth can play better. They understand the workings of tone and dynamics, so they make them work! Thurston and Kim have a child now - they're Sonic Adults playing Sonic Adult music. And it's pretty and catchy and still awfully interesting. Not sassy or radio-friendly; just good creative guitar rock.

Unfortunately for us, they still can't tell the difference between a good idea and a bad one, so we have to sit through Thurston's horrendous rocker "Junkie's Promise" the blow-tastic "Panty Lies," and Kim Gordon's most annoying vocal delivery in the history of mankind on the otherwise godlike title track (the music is amazing, but her vocals - you'll want to strangle her, baby or no baby!). Lee's "Skip Tracer," on the other hand, is terrific! What about that cool melody? How about those funny lyrics making fun of arty alternative rockers? Good on ya, Mate (Lee)!

In conclusium, Sonic Youth are still innovative and talented songwriters (though lousy editors) who deserve your listening attention.

Reader Comments (Henry Babcock)
Yr probly not going to put this on yr page, but I just gotta say that after just looking at a couple of yr reviews, like those for Washing Machine, The Infotainment Scan and The 27 Points, you really are a fockin' dork.

Washing Machine is my favorite album of all time. I've listened to the whole album 67 times. I can't even begin to tell you all that you've got wrong about yout review. In fact, there's so much wrong with all those reviews that I'm not even going to take the time. (Matthew Gries The Army Man)
what sonic youth are you listening to? you really like this attention, huh? people writing in about YOUR reviews. so i'm not gonna tell you what a fucking idiot you are and how your reviews smell like shit. but Washing Machine and every other sonic youth album before it kicked, especially Master-Dik. stop pretending you know what you're talking about with your general comments and un-witty humor. i hate richard dreyfuss. anyway. "Panty Lies" kicks ass. you're just too snobby to appreciate the work. no one said you had like their music anyway. go tickle your nuts. you disgust me.
I agree with p davis and scoutl about the music. I may not agree with you about all the music but I think it takes guts to put comments good or bad up here.
If i ever met you i would kick your ass! Sonic Youth is such a dream-like world for me, when i listen to them i feel something that no other band has to offer.The only ablum i don't like by them is made in u.s.a. But come on, dirty is so awesome it makes be move back and fourth. Washing Machine is a great album indeed but how can you put down all the 'noise' thye produce? They create sounds other bands don't even come close to them. So, go to hell and SONIC YOUTH RULES!

Don't listen to all the wizards that hate you for not paying "props" to their favorite Sonic Youth albums. Anyone who listens to Sonic Youth and understands what they're about knows that you have the right to your opinion. I dig this band, but I don't threaten critics with death.
Well guys I am not very sure about all this stuff but surely Sonic Youth requires more attention than ever. And definitely it looks like that every single song I have heard so far is like a different experience alltogether. That is every song has its own new cool character and generally you don't get shit repeated over and over again in many songs.

The latest work from SonicY is totally foking cool. There is a song I could easily listen to for x times.

Only in Experimental Jet Set Trash and No Star I imagine there is a bit of confusion with songs containing contradictions regarding life attitudes as in 'Winners Blues' and 'In the mind of the burgeois Reader.'

Well that's really my opinion from my point of view. Nobody has to hear it. (Matthew J. Wellner)
I find it rather funny that people would be so angry about your opinion. I certainly don't agree with everything (see Sebadoh), but if it makes you that angry to read it... then don't! Everyone has a right to their opinion (even those that like AC/DC, Guns n Roses, and even fucking Danzig), and the right to post it. I would suggest that anyone who gets that angry about music not listen to it.

BTW, I'd say yer pretty much dead-on with the Sonic Youth reviews. I don't understand why Sonic's use of noise is bad, yet Eric Gaffney's *reliance* on noise is good, but sometimes it's hard to put into words what makes an album *bad*. (Betsy)
sonic youth is hard core.

shit and opinions are hard core.

"Library Patron"
To fully hear "Diamond Sea" (and "the last fifteen minutes of noise on the album") requires being severely stoned or ingesting a large amount of mushrooms. Once you hear that song (and the whole album) under that state of mind, you'll have a greater understanding of what the album is about. I doubt that you've been able to truly "hear" the album as of yet.
dude, you've got some interesting things to say. I'll admit that but I don't understand how you gave washing Machine and Experimental 8 when you gave Goo 10. Didn't you say goo didn't have any emotion in it but that the other two had a range of emotion. Whatever, it's nice to see someone putting time and effort into a web page for an amazing fucking band. peace dude keep it up. SONIC YOUTH Rocks!!!!
Wow, if I had somehow missed the first line where you said Sonic Youth are aural geniuses, I might think you are describing the worst band in the world.

"Master wordsmith Prindle Record Reviews did some excellent reviews of the band Sonic Youth. Review after review contained repetetive, often contradictory information. The beginnings are ok, but in the middle he whines about the poetry (I wonder what he considers good poetry), while also saying he doesn't listen to lyrics. They would be good reviews if they only contained the first line of every review." Rating: 6 (Kay Duffy)
after reading all the SY review, i just have the say I LOVE all the beautiful contradictions all over this page. I respect your opinions, but think you ought to get them sorted out before you broadcast them to others.
This one's a bit inconsistent. "The Diamond Sea" is a landmark though, and "Becuz", "Skip Tracer", and "Unwind" are among their coolest tunes ever. And the title It completely changes shape. It starts off as a faux- Betty Boop sexist song and morphs into this monstrosity with white noise. I love it. However. Aside from those (though I should have mentioned "Junkie's Promise" and "Panty Lies", both of which I enjoy as well), the songs are lackluster. Try to tell me that "No Queen Blues" is any good. Try, and you will be rebutted with a hearty "Hell no!". "Saucer-Like" is okay, but I only like the verse parts. "Little Trouble Girl" sucks. This isn't Martha and the fucking Vandellas, it's Sonic Youth. On the whole though, I must say that this is a wholly enjoyable album, and though not as good as EVOL-type stuff, it's a DEFINITE step up from the terribly mediocre EJSTANS. Gets a 7 down in these parts.
i got this because i heard "washing machine" and the full version of "diamond sea" and it didn't sound like modern rock. not that it sounded like old SY. it was still poppy, but not as grungy, and pretty unpredictable. sure, there are some attempts at radio scores (i think) in a few of the less strange songs, but they rival the best of Dirty. both the beginning and end of "diamond sea", though quite different, are, to me, pure rock bliss. total: 7.5 (Lester)
The Year Punk Broke is hilarous. the only part that sucks is that japenese band. see yuh.
Well I think you were way off with Dirty, but then you go and totally redeem yourself! ...well almost anyway. I quite like Kim's vocals on the title track but I guess it is an aquired taste or something. Anyway Junkies Promise and Panty Lies are enjoyable but they sound a bit too much like B-sides from the last 2 albums so what you do is get Washing Machine on CD and make use of that programme function to sequence it like this... 1.Skip Tracer 2.Washing Machine 3. No Queen Blues 4.Becuz 5. Saucer-Like 6.Unwind 7.Little Trouble Girl 8.Untitled 9.The Diamond Sea and then you have a grade A masterpiece of an album.
i don't care if you give sonic an (ok) review. anyone who threatens to kill Kim Gordon is a fucking retard. (Joel Dunham)
Washing Machine is a perfect album. This review is more for Mr. Prindle than anyone else. You keep complaining about Sonic Youth being predictable in all of their songs because there's a pretty good chance that there is a long section with white noise and endless clunking. You think this is the boring part of the song. But this is the part of the song that the diehards find most freeing. Sonic Youth speaks a different language than you. You speak rock music language. Sonic Youth speaks another one. You need to learn to be bilingual. And this is their best album to learn the new language.
One of my favorites. Becuz is beautiful, and The Diamond Sea is obviously the wiinner. The Lee sung songs are great, as they always are. Once again, Kim's vocals are sort of detrimental--especially on the title track, as you, Mark Prindle, said. The music though.. daaaamn is it good. I often find myself skipping forward in the track until the vocals drop out. Kinda sad.
A great album! Definatly one of my faves. "Diamond Sea" is a masterpiece, and thats what....16 min of the album? And man, "Unwind" is so damn pretty! The title track is pretty damn funny too. Gotta love those Kim vocals. Anyway, id give this one a 9!
Yes, you do have to be on acid to understand the last fifteen minutes of "the diamond sea". And I don't know why "no queen blues" is my second fav. SY tune besides "cross the breeze". But true to form, sonic youth gives you a reason to love and hate them at the same time with this album. (Matt F.)
Why do some hardcore SY fans always spell "your" as "yr"? I know Thurston and his wife Miss Old Kitty put "yr" in some of their song titles and whatnot, but, meh -- IT'S STUPID! I DON'T LIKE IT! :( STOP USING "YR"!

"Washing Machine" is pretty nice. The beginning of the album kinda drags a tiny wee lil' midgit-sized bit, but I like the rest of it lots. Well, I did. I haven't really listened to this album in like four months. Which may or may not be a long time... um... well, I listen to lots of music, so YEAH, IT IS.

But even when I remember some of the songs, I get all happy and stuff. Like inside. Like inside my heart. Like inside my four-chambered.. heart. Is there four chambers?

At first, the fifteen minute guitar noise fest at the end made me want to throw up! But then I said to myself, "My God, these guitar noises are really hypnotizing! I feel like I'm high! And I've never been high before! WOW!"

Actually, I don't know -- that "song" may b e my favorite thing SY has ever done. So what if it's just a lot of feedback that goes on for fifteen minutes? For some reason unbeknownst (CHARLES DICKENS, GET AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER) to me, it's better than their other long-ass guitar/noise experimental farts.

So in conclusion: if you like this album, yr cool in my book! (Dan)
I definitely agree that SY needs to learn to "edit themselves" better, and Washing Machine is a prime example of this.

"Junkie's Promise" is weak, "Panty Lines" is probably their and I'm not a big fan of "Little Trouble Girl", either. Maybe my testicles are interfering with my ability to enjoy that song...I don't know.

Even with those complaints, this is an amazing album. Becuz, the Diamond Sea, Unwind, Skip Tracer, and Washing Machine are all classics. In fact, this the only SY album where I like Lee's songs better than some of Thurston's.

Compared to EJTNS, this is a masterpiece, and probably my favorite SY album.

Hello, 2015!

Brenda Prindle
1. you can fill the laundry close to the top
2. put the tide HE (up to the lines in the scooper) in the left side
3. for darks, put downy (up to the line in cap) in the middle section
4. for whites and towels, put bleach (behind the downstairs toilet) or odorono in the right section. there's a line that indicates MAX, i usually go halfway or 75% of the way to MAX
5. for darks, spin the wheel to cottons, press the spin speed button once to make it 800, and press start
8. for whites and towels, spin the wheel to sterilize (or whatever it's called--something like that), press the spin speed button once to make it 800, and press start

(EDITOR'S NOTE: At least I think this is a reader comment. The email title was "Washing Machine" at any rate)

Ray Chalme'
to call this album anything short of a masterpiece is unacceptable. Perfect 10.

Little Trouble Girl is beautifully calm, The Diamond Sea is atmospheric as fuck, and everything else is definitely worth the listen.

Add your thoughts?

SYR1: Anagrama - Sonic Youth Records 1997.
Rating = 8

If you like Sonic Youth's schtick, you'll like this. It all sounds made up on the spot, but they get some really nice mesmerizing chime-grooves going and there's no crappy vocals to stick an ugly clenched fist of the musical ass of your mind -- just jangly guitar noises with a beat. Sure, this improv-type stuff sounds to me just like the stuff that my friends and I were doing on our guitars at age 15. However, I'm sure Sonic Youth know more about music theory than I do, so for all I know they're doing something really intelligent. So if you know a lot about music, please tell me --- is there a reason why Sonic Youth keep doing the same goddamned thing over and over and over and over again, yet their fans still think they're brilliant?

Reader Comments (Zach English)
Anagrama is actually by far the most "normal" EP that SY put out...I like it but it's no substitute for actual songs, in my opinion. If you think that all SY does is put out the "same stuff," wait 'til you hear the other EPs. I'm telling you right now...if you shell out the money for Goodbye 20th Century you will have one of two reactions: 1) you will regret the money you wasted, or 2) you will attempt to sell it back to the record store. The ONLY way you'll enjoy it is if you listen to alot of Cage, Stockhausen, Yoko Ono, etc. As far as the other EPs go, I can't vouch for their quality, but anything with O'Rourke's name on it has to be good.

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SYR2: Slaapkamers Met Slagroom - 1997 Sonic Youth Records.
Rating = 5

Whatever. More experimentation. What really can you say about this kind of stuff, other than "nice guitar tones!" and "hey! thanks for not bothering to write a melody!" It starts really nice, seems to be heading somewhere and then stops. It's not rock. It's "20th century composer" shit. If you like noises, give it a listen. The really long song is actually pretty cool!

I got drunk tonight, by the way. First time ever. 27 years old. It was no great shakes. It was fun weaving around, but no great shakes. I can't believe I've made it out to be such a big deal all these years.

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SYR3: Invito Al Cielo - 1997 Sonic Youth Records.
Rating = 7

I'm not sure if it's because of the inclusion of Jim O'Rourke or what, but this hour's worth of experimental guitar noise is actually pretty darn interesting! It ebbs and flows and grows and falls and develops and sits still and never really gets boring, because you never really know what neat noise is going to come up next! Plus it gets reaaaaaaaaally creepy at points. Or maybe it just seems that way because I'm still kind of drunk off my ass.

One thing about alcohol, I must admit -- I fucked my girlfriend TWICE in about fifteen minutes!!! Good old alcohol - making sex an emotional, touching experience for all involved.

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Silver Session For Jason Knuth - SKR 1998.
Rating = 4

Some guys in the studio upstairs were playing funk metal, so the "look at me" pubescent that is at the heart of Sonic Youth drove them to turn their amps way up and let them feedback for half an hour. Then they chopped the tape up into eight different tracks and dedicated it to a suicidal Sonic Youth fan. "Wow." What "geniuses." What "artists."

Having said that, I must admit that they certainly didn't turn their amps up WRONG or anything. The feedback noise is often very mesmerizing. Mesmerizing enough, apparently, for Thurston Moore to claim in the liner notes that in a lot of ways, this is his favorite Sonic Youth album (which may help explain why Sonic Youth albums aren't very good). Whatever. If you're a Metal Machine Music fan or believe that minimalism is the highest form of art (regardless of the fact that it takes no effort, skill or ideas whatsoever), then feel free to waste your money like I did.

Reader Comments (Pier Simone)
This confirms my idea that Sonic Youth are not and never have been a rock band, but an electric and electronic band, and a great one in modern musical history, like Suicide and Kraftwerk. (Steve)
This one is pretty interesting to listen to, and it's a good source if you're looking for white noise samples... but artistically, it's a complete piece of shit. Sadly enough, if Sonic Youth had claimed in the liner notes that they meticulously orchestrated the music on this disk, a lot of their "fans" probably would have hailed it as a work of genius. From my experience, most people who listen to bands like Sonic Youth only do so because they think that they're SUPPOSED TO like the music. Most of them don't even understand what the band is trying to do, so they're unable to distinguish the band's works of genius from their worthless crap. I'm a massive fan of this band, but I think they'd get a lot more respect if they were able to distinguish their terrible ideas from the worthwhile ones.

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A Thousand Leaves - DGC 1998.
Rating = 7

Sorta like a Bad Moon Rising with big league production, this record finds the Youths stretching into their back pages to uncover the dark turmoil and peaceful slumber of their pre-sassy era. In places, it works. To name names, "Sunday" is a grand single and "Karen Koltrane" has several grooving, mesmerizing parts that hold your attention for a clear nine minutes. Plus, I can't tell you HOW happy I am to see that Thurston has apparently finally outgrown his disposition to pen unrocking "rock" tunes and shout cockily over them. The only real problems with the record are that (q) they waste too much space playing dull noise while Kim recites bland stream-of-consciousness poetry over top of it and (7) a lot of the riffs just aren't that memorable. "Hits Of Sunshine," for just one example, drags on for 11 minutes on maybe two bass notes. Not even very intriguing bass notes either.

In short, all the elements are in place -- maturity, topnotch production, beautiful guitar tones -- but the songs themselves just don't hold up as well as you might hope.

One final word about Sonic Youth: They're the greatest band ever formed.

And they fucking suck.

Reader Comments (Jared)
If you couldn't get into Washing Machine, this one is going to be a reach. A lot of it sounds long and boring at first, but it gets more interseting with each listen. Thurston continues on the sublime sunburn of "Expressway to Yr. Skull" with "Wildflower Soul" (a better version can be found on the Free Tibet CD) and "Hits of Sunshine" (a sort of Grateful Dead-ish jam) and fulfills his pop tendencies on "Sunday"; Kim delves much further into a world of feminine protest with "Female Mechanic Now on Duty" and "French Tickler"; Lee's songs do not really stick into my head right now. There is a lot more noise here than there was on Washing Machine or Dirty, which is fun. I've read reviews saying it is a lot more like EVOL, a return to a more laid back state.

Laid back is a key word for the record. The whole thing has a generally lazy feel. That is how it comes off anyway. New effects and styles abound though. No longer is the noise simply spontaneous, but now it seems to be very mapped and planned out. Lee uses spacey slides all over the place and they jam like jazzmen in "Hits of Sunshine". Of course there are complete throwaways like "Contre le Sexism".

If you see them live on their current tour, all the bad sides of this album are washed away and it sounds much, much better. The noise is completely spontaneous and Thurston brings out some well deserved humor. When I saw them at the Moore in Seattle they did every song except two from the new album and "Anagrama" (from the first EP). For their encore they did an awesome jam (I think from another EP) and two oldies but goodies, "Shadow of a Doubt" and "Death Valley '69". "Shadow of a Doubt" was incredibly chilling live and "Death Valley '69" just absolutely rocked (the absence of Lydia Lunch made it less eerie and more accesible). It is definitely a show worth checking out.

Overall their new stuff is interesting, but not revolutionary or classic like it once was back in their free-form hey-dey.
This one gets an 8 from me. I love it, I think it's their best album since Goo. "Sunday" is their best pop tune of all time, "Wildflower Soul" and "Karen Koltrane" are long, glittery, amazing slices of lemon pie, and "Snare, Girl" and "French Tickler" are poppy yet serious. Lee's voice sounds positively FATHERLY on "Hoarfrost". I agree with Mark in the point he makes about the guitar tone. It's stunningly beautiful. It's a BIG departure from the jagged, trebly sound of Washing Machine. And, of course, it sounds nothing like Dirty, or Experimental, for that matter. It's got a "diamond" feel to it. "Ineffable Me" is horrible though...that riff makes me cringe, and not in a good way. And the first and last tracks are not even real "songs". (Kay Duffy)
i have to say, i love that last thing you said about "sonic youth is the best band ever formed. and they fucking suck." i just love that so much. for some reason, it put a smile on my face.. i'm suprised you didn't mention wildflower soul, i thought it was just as good or better than sunday. i cant get over that though.. it's so fucking true.. but this album gets a seven and one half from me.
well, I was expecting a 5 or something from this record, so I'm happy. It gets an 8 from me. I'm sorry, but I think Kim's a little bit over the top. If she calmed down a bit then sung French Tickler and Ineffable Me, they'd be great instead of the flawed masterpieces that the are. Sunday and Karen Koltrane are beautiful. All of Thurston's songs are in the Unwind, Diamond Sea boat. That's OK though, sometimes I get into laid back Sonic moods and they work perfectly. Tip put this record on, lay back put this record on and drift. That's the best way to aprreciate it
i hadn't bought any SY stuff in awhile, not even the old stuff, but for some reason i just HAD to buy this one when it first came out. they're not as good as they used to be but this album still has its moments, and is more creative, even better, than their recent efforts. if you like low key jazzy guitar songs followed by jarring kimgordonscreeching-laden rants, this is for you. i give it an 8.

I'm not a hard core sonic youth fan (as you can probably tell), or even a hard core music fan, for that matter. i only avidly follow the replacements, and they are pretty far from SY in so many ways except for the fact that they inspired nirvana, along with a lot of "just ok" modern rock. i'm just bored and i'm stalling b/c i have a paper to write for school...rock on Thurston!

PS - why does everyone always relate SY to drugs????????? (Marc Flynn)
I forgive you if you dont like it on first listen. hell, this album barely has a a pulse. listen to it while working out and become as fat as a french canadian weaned on poutine. listen to it ten times and still hate it? get out of my fucking face.

there is so much to love on this album you forget about the physical qualities of good music -- like the good circle jerks record on 1983 that made you want to kill your parents, sniff glue and beat off to some cheap larry flint publication. this album makes you want to write poetry, travel the canadian landscape and wax philosophic with Gilles Deluze.

This is a great rainy day album , right up there with Morphine's cure for pain and any portishead album. the guitar work is phenominal -- some of the best the group has ever commited to tape. just listen to karen koltrane and tell me you are not fundamentally puzzled how thurston, lee and kim get some of these sounds out of guitars. this should be a movie soundtrack., the richness of the sound is incredible, full points to wharton tiers as producer of the melinnia. a thousand leaves is so good, that it has an inherent quality that makes it really hard to describe. some of the kim songs get annoying, but the sheer beauty emanating elsewhere makes up for it.

close the curtains, turn the stereo up to 8 1/12 and listen to some serious musical visionaries taking guitar playijng to another stratosphere. (John A. French)
i'm gonna kill you for not liking the music i like (Jeremy Speck)
First of all I would like to say that I admire the courage and amount of time that it must have taken to write these very vague reviews for music that you seem to be the least bit educated about. Props, definetly, are deserved. Bravo. You have opinions, and you are entitled to them (ok,ok, this is starting to sound a bit like I am reading you your Miranda Rights, so I'll cut to the chase...I promise).

I tried as hard as I could to hold my tongue until I reached the grand finale of your review for A Thousand Leaves. My question for you is, how many times have you actually listened to the albums in your SY collection. Like any form of "high-art", SY records require much time to fully understand, and, thus, appreciate. For instance, a Dali painting can not, under any circumstances, be fully comprehended at a moment's glance. SY records require time, patience, and an open mind (though I am definetly not, in the least, accusing you of being narrow-sighted). Listening to a SY record is an experience, as it challenges our pre-concieved notions of music, life, and even SY.

I do, for the most part agree with your review of Dirty. I do not, however, believe that it deserves a 3. This album is SY's most conventional album. There are, however, some beautiful gems contained within. "Wish-Fulfillment", for example is one of Lee's shining moments in rock history: emotionally viable but not weak; poetic but not pretentious; simple but not conventional. (If only Lee sang more songs, then this world would be a much better place, and then maybe you would give SY better reviews...anyways.) Thurston's "Chapel Hill" definely rocks. Shelley's tight, pounding beats hold the many diverse parts of this song together. This is one of the few SY songs that possess guitar solos...and they are fucking amazing, a la Hendrix. The predictable middle-noise-passage works well for this song, creating a dynamic hurdle for this aggressive song to pivot on. Also, this is the album on which Kim is least annoying (not that she is perfect either...far from it actually...) She has her typical token pretentious/dopey-lame/politically-charged feminist lyrics (one of SY's fallbacks, by the way), but her tone, for the most part is much more restrained here than on any other SY records, pre or post Dirty. "Drunken Butterfly" is a great song, but come to think of it, it would be an even more amazing song if it was an instrumental (ok, so I have revealed myself. I am a musician, not an ironic arty feminist). Anyways, I was actually trying to say something good about Kim Gordon...really! Her last two tracks on the B side are totally cool. She is restrained, almost as if she realized (at least for the moment) that she is no longer young and angry, but rather old and skating on a thin layer of artistic ice [it is appropriate to now note that after this album she doesn't hesitate, for even a second, before reverting to her, ummm, "creative" ways of vocalizing (cuz I wouldn't exactly call it singing)]. So anyways, these two songs are the two most serene and controlled pieces on this album. The noise is pleasantly placed in the background, threatening to break through, creating tension, confusion, and bliss!! Kim;s voice is at its best when it is soft, and her words come across most effectively when they do not sound so urgent. She almost sounds downright respectable on this album. Ok, so I'm being a bit too harsh on Kim. So on to other things then...

"Youth Against Fascism" was a mistake. Why does SY feel the need to mix blatant politics with abstract music???? It does not do the music or the politics justice. Thumbs up to Ian MacKaye's presence on this song though. Too bad he was unable to save this lame, and annoyingly literal song from total suckage. All in all this album was very ackward as a SY album. It is great, don't get me wrong, but just not by SY standards (much like the "Phantom Menace's" inability to live up to the "Star Wars" legacy).. It is way too conventional for my likings. Too fast, for the most part. Too many lyrics. Not enough free-form musical expansion/expression. This album is a low point, I agree, but it deserves much more than a 3, because it still stands far superior to most other music that was released at that time in the mainstream. now I move on...

I don't see why you rave about Goo, being the great album that you have deemed it to be. Sassy is the most appropriate word for this album. Right down to the cover art. If I knew not the history of SY then I would have guessed that they were an L.A. band. Much too slick...and Kim, WILL YOU PLEASE SHUT UP...I'M BEGGING!!! There are some amazing moments on this album though. "Mote" continues to stand out in my head as a fave Sonic Youth song; the verses, the chorus, the bridge, the effects-layered heartfelt vocals, Lee's honest tone, the noisy outro...PERFECTO!!! Definetly THE climax of this album. Then we have to listen to the ultra-lame title track (please don't write conventional music if you cannot sing appropriately to it) before we get to some amazing music. Most of the songs on the second side are musical showcases (not just focusing on the guitars though. Steve Shelley and Kim Gordon remind us that they too are at the top of the pack of musicians), with sparse lyrics. Thankfully SY included these songs as a reminder that they really haven't lost their spirit or their knack for innovation and growth. "Dirty Boots" is also a high point on this album, until the chorus kicks in, that is. And "Kool Thang"...I won't even bother. I feel emberassed for SY just thinking about that song.

I think that your review of COnfusion isSex is pretty right on and accurate. So I will not waist time telling you how much I agree with you. I will just say that this album is primitive music for primitive people. Mind expanding, at the least. A timeless classic, in a league of its own, at the most.

I do disagree with a lot of things said in your review of Bad Moon Rising though. This is definetly their spaciest album ever. Not until Washing Machine did they ever explore this ground again. Maybe this was their drug-phase, if such a phase did ever occur. I do agree with your comments on Bob Bert's drumming. This is music for lovers, trippers, and sleepers. Best served as a whole, at room temperature with the lights out... This proto-ambient album is one of my favorite SY albums. The sounds presented on Bad Moon Rising blow my mind every time that I listen to it. Intergalactic space travel, with occasional space combat, remenicient ot early, Syd-era Pink Floyd. No words do this album justice. Perhaps this is why I am displeased with your review. Perhaps this is why I am displeased with my review of your review. I will stop now...

...I am going to go listen to Bad Moon Rising right now...

So, I will e-mail you at a later time with my thoughts and gripes on your reviews of SY's other albums, because (though I trust your intentions were good) you definetly need to be schooled on SY (and as I have understood from your reviews of other artists), and music in general. Don't think for a second that your SY reviews are the only reviews that I found absurd. Oh're not getting off that easily. We are not finished here...

...until next time. (Zach)
Don't get Sonic Youth's SYR4 unless you've got a hunger for atonal, grooveless art crap. Much worse than the first few EPs they put out. Avoid at all costs.
Thanks for putting up that 'small town meeting' about sonic youth... posting everyones opinions and feelings and stuff... every sonic youth song seems to have people who love it and hate it which is pretty cool... l8r
I think Prindle is on the mark with his Sonic Youth reviews.

He knows that they will always have a place in alt-rock. But he doesn't call their shitty output gold like their fans do.

It’s not a contradiction, it’s reality. Sometimes they work hard, like on Washing Machine or Daydream Nation; and sometimes they don’t work at all. For instance, Made in U.S.A., or the Whitey Album.

Personally, I think if you took the 1 or 2 'real' songs from each of their albums, AND DUMPED ALL THE FILLER, you could boil their whole career down to maybe one good complete CD.

Which is what will happen in a couple years when they release their Greatest Hits album, and quietly fade away for good. (Earle White)
A Thousand Leaves is an alternate soundtrack for Disney's Alice in Wonderland. If you'll have the patience to notice what Kim says during "Contre Le Sexism"..... "Alice? Alice, he's just a kitten!" etc. In the beginning AIWL, Alice follows her kitten into the field, where she falls asleep, and begins her journey to Wonderland. If started at the right moment...the songs will conincide with the movie (for the most part). There are also little clues on the album (hint: Heather Angel). My friend Adam showed me this trick and I fell in love with the album. A Thousand Leaves was obviously written for their children (Lee has his son Cody as many seem to forget). How fucking rad would it be if your parents recorded a record, just for you, as a companion to Alice in Wonderland? I dare say beautiful.

As for most the people on here, including you the reviewer.....I know what side of the fence you stand on. Obviously you we're always the kids who fit in, and did at things in the "right" way. Some of you seem down-right artistically-retarded. Does art/music/film have to be like Starbucks, McDonald's, and Wal-Mart? You have a choice....don't be an advertisement victim, a culture zombie, the hypnotized. You have choices. (Christopher McCarthy)
Definitely a let down in the sense that it was not as "fresh" as I would have hoped for. A band needs to reinvent themselves every few albums and this did not do it. That being said, had I never heard any Sonic Youth albums before in my life, I would still feel that the material is better than what most people feel "alternative" music is. I think that alternative music should be classified as the type of music you can hear on good college radio stations and no where else. This album would not necessarily beat most of that type of alternative music. Instead it would be in the middle of the pack. As for Mark's assessment of "Hits of Sunshine", there is no question that the song achieves what was intended. The bass is not the focus and does not need to be. The focus is the subtle guitar lines that almost sound as if they are in the background. I think the song mimics a style from the sixties and I say this because of the line note about the tribute to Allen Ginsburg. I assume this song is either a poem he wrote or was written as influenced by Ginsburg and knowing that, the song sounds just right and is clearly the "Saving Grace" of this album. (Zach English)
Mark, in the name of all that is holy on this earth, DO NOT buy the new Sonic Youth album unless you find it really cheap. Trust me on this one.
While I love Sonic Youth as much as the next hard core fan (oh, and by the way--Dirty IS their best album)--this message is specifically for Jeremy Speck in response to his comments regarding Sonic Youth's guitar playing:

Don't you ever, EVER compare sonic youth to Hendrix--just the thought of that makes me sick-Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page--maybe these guys could be within 100 miles of Hendrix (least of which Page) but sonic youth? They are not on the same musical planet as Hendrix--DONT YOU EVER COMPARE sonic youth's guitar playing with Hendrix.

Oh--and Sonic Youth kicks ass. (Joel Dunham)
I think you have to sit down and print out the lyrics and read them along while you listen to this one with really good earphones (not a good stereo) to begin to fully enjoy this one. And, Contre Le Sexisme isn't bad Sonic Youth, it's good Sonic Youth, it's sonic youth reinventing themselves, not just reinventing everybody else as usual. The same comment goes for Heather Angel and Ineffeable me with their sporadic "movements." To repeat what somebody else said, definitely written for their Sonic children. Finally, Hits of Sunshine kicks ass! The song opens up in this really groovy place and stays there for the nice 10 minutes just like you wanted it to.
This album contains a lot of really beautiful guitar tones and has this really nice passive, quiet quality to it. Unfortunatly, some of it drags, but the ideas behind them were really good ideas i can tell. "Sunday" is the perfect use of the albums formula and its not too long to bore you and has enough catchy hooks and guitar tricks to keep you satisfied, where as, "Hits Of Sunshine" for instance is too long, but if maybe it were edited down it'd be a delight. As for songs i do like, i enjoy "French Tickler" and "Ineffable Me" (i dont have a problem with Kim's vocals) and "Wildflower Soul". Kim does go a little too overboard though, as "Contre Le Sexisme" is pointless, and "Heather Angel" starts great but morphs into a weird and uninteresting/meandering part, and both show that maybe Kim was questioning her sanity at that point. I give it an 8.

Add your thoughts?

SYR 4: Goodbye 20th Century - Sonic Youth Records 1999.
Rating = 2

Okay, just for the sake of argument, let's say that you're in the bathroom taking a poop.

Now then. It's kind of a runny poop, so you wipe your buttock and look at the paper -- at this point (I don't do this, but let's say that you do), you become enamored by the bizarre yellowish-green color of the waste. You wonder, "why, that's not what normal waste resembles at all... I wonder how such a concoction might appeal to my sense of smell?" So you look both ways, close your eyes, bring the tissue to your nose and take a deep whiff. What do you smell?


Now, okay, I'm not a big fan of "modern classical composition" in the first place, but this collection of smacks, bleeps, blomps and poetry certainly does not a whit to change my opinion of "avante-garde" as being a form of "music" created by idiots for idiots, so that both can consider themselves to be "intelligentsia." Whatever. For christ's sake, it took Eddie Fucking Money more talent to write "Baby Hold On To Me" than it must have taken John Sucking Cage to come up with "Four6," if Sonic Youth's half-hour shit version is any indication.

Okay now I admit that I'm talking out my ass -- I don't understand the appeal of this music and I don't pretend to. I'm assuming that it probably has more to do with "concept" than "product." Unfortunately this package doesn't include ANY information about the "concepts" behind these 13 avante-garde compositions that Sonic Youth has chosen to cover, so I'm left with... well, a bunch of smacks, bleeps, blomps and poetry, nearly NONE of which is worth listening to on its own as a piece of "art."

Yes, "Having Never Written A Note For Percussion" is an awesome, hypnotizing, ebbing and flowing drone that I enjoy quite a bit, and yes it's hilarious that they recorded their baby daughter screaming and called it a Yoko Ono cover -- for those two ditties alone, I've given the CD a two. The rest of this is just so beyond bad, it's not even funny. Throw a bunch of power tools in your basement, set up a mic and lock a bunch of kidnapped neighborhood children in there -- the racket they come up with will most likely be more inspired than depressingly go-nowhere beatnik tripe like "Edges" and "Burdocks."

Well, I'll give 'em this. They've finally lived up to their band name -- they've created an album that sounds like it was made by a bunch of four year olds.

Reader Comments (Evan Streb)
Looks like The Pros and Cons Of Hitch-hiking will now have to be called "the second worst album I've ever heard in my life." because... I actually went out and bought Sonic Youth's Goodbye 20th Century!! And started listening to it!! And I must say, this is hands down the dumbest most godawful piece-of-shit album I've ever heard in my life. Well, not dumb, because for all its faults it does have good intentions!! I think the reason Sonic Youth recorded this was because they wanted to expand the horizons of music; they wanted to create music that hadn't been made before; they wanted to be innovative. THAT they've done. The only problem is, the music they've created is just... gag. Worse than Blood On The Dance Floor. Worse than Calling All Stations (which I haven't even heard, but there's no way it can be as bad as this). It's even worse than Attila!! I mean, even those records had, like, recognizable song structures! If Sonic Youth's intent was to expand the horizons of music and be innovative, then why did they have to do it in such an either annoying (the short songs on the album) or go-nowherey (the really long songs (And I mean reeeallllllyyy long songs. There's this one that's over a half-hour long!)) manner? Really cool-looking album cover though!

Of course, the indie rock record review site gave this an 8.5 out of ten. Of course this was the same record review site that gave Zaireeka a 0.0 (Have you bought Zaireeka yet? Now THAT'S an innovative, horizon-expanding piece of music I say!) and The Boy With The Arab Strap a 0.8. Sure, if you were unable to get ahold of four (or even three) CD or tape players then I guess I could understand why people would hate Zaireeka. But a 0.8 for The Boy With The Arab Strap? That's just crazy. (Zach English)
Now don't get all pissy, guys. Just because this concept (Sonic Youth....a ROCK band...doing modern classical interpretations?!) seems a bit pretentious, and in the end the results are really quite boring, DON'T screw the pooch and refuse to buy anything else by these composers. I'm not sure if he's on here or not (having sold this album back to the store long ago), but try to find something by Iannis Xenakis if you can. Really manipulated, fucked up sounds that really serve a purpose when you listen to them closely, he's probably my favorite modern classical thinker. Cage I like, but SY really aren't focused enough to pull off his stuff. Also, and I know that this might not seem even tangentially related to modern classical, but Glenn Branca is a genius as well. Just my two cents. I'd give this album 5 out of 10.

Add your thoughts?

NYC Ghosts & Flowers - Geffen 2000.
Rating = 6

Apparently fancying themselves a bunch of intelligentsia beatnik sorts, Sonic Youth become even MORE improvisiational on this release, which is a darn shame because the tracks that seem semi-written are really cool, featuring beautiful repetitive chiming guitar, crisp drums and lots of nice noises. The others though - hoo boy. Call them "progressive" if that's your desire, but speaking as a fellow guitar player, I can't help but accuse crap like the title track of being just a bunch of halfassed ego-driven noodling disguised as jazz. Then again, I don't smoke hash.
Reader Comments (mRf)
Hmm, I get the feeling based on your 'reviews' of SY, the godhood-like peak of Washing Machine in particular, that you really don't get Sonic Youth. This review of NYC G&F just confirms my thoughts on this. Of course I may not either.. but one thing I must dispute is that they are here trying to be sort of improvisational and jazzy without expending effort on the songs - particularly on the title-track which isss very carefully structured, and also the best song on the album in my opinion. The closing "Lightning" (I think that is it's name, anyhow) is rather a tatty and unrequired excursion, but the rest is utterly fantastic. A sort of trimmed-down A Thousand Leaves meets Washing Machine.

And to compare A Thousand Leaves to Bad Moon Rising, is just so lazy it is truly shocking. I get the impression that you have tried to listen to it a few times and given up, muttering to yrself 'oh, they must be trying to be clever or something. I don't get it.. just sounds like crap to me'.

I've been looking at some of the other reviews around this site, and you can be often right on the mark.. but also, utterly off in the way you have reviewed Sonic Youth, especially all their albums since Dirty which I do think is rather lame, but not for approaching the crappy reasons you have... sorry, but there yr go.
You think your reviews mean anything but you actually like sonic youth???? They've done nothing in their career except rip off Can, Faust, PiL, the Residents, and Captain Beefheart. (Lester Family)
The way to listen to this album is on headphones, laying down in a grassy field, looking at clouds. That said, it's not that great of a record. "Free City Rhymes" is one of my favorite post-Dirty SY songs; "NYC Ghosts and Flowers," "Renegade Princess," and "Nevermind" are all good, too. I like "Side2Side" also, just as a trance-inducing experiment (I heard it live, it was, well...shitty). But dang, "Small Flowers Crack Concrete" makes me feel embarressed just listening to it. The music is fairly interesting, but Thurston's uber-pretentious talk-speak is just that, pretentious! It ruins the whole record. And that "Stream Subway" or whatever song is just kinda goofy. "Lightnin" is noise. Annoying noise, too. This would be better as an EP I think: tracks 1, 2, 3, 5, and 7. I guess it's short enough (42 minutes) not to bug me that much. A 6. Maaaybe a low 7. (Joel Dunham)
Actually I just wanted to say, in all of your badmouthing Dirty, don't you think "Shoot" is a perfect song? I mean that lyric "Can I have my lipstick that was such a surprise" alone tells you with the slightest hint that some oral sex just happened all the while Kim's character has been visualizing shooting her lover. Nuts! NYC ghosts and flowers rules as does Sonic Youth. Finally, I'm going to make fun of everybody who speaks in caps. I'M GOING TO KILL YOU PRINDLE AHHAHAHHA, WHY? YOU DON'T AGREE WITH EVERYTHING I THINK ARRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHH. Hee hee. All those caps-speakers/typers should stop listening to Sonic Youth, it's making them too violent.
I read over some of your "reviews" and I wanted to comment not just on one album but on all of them, I have been listening to Sonic Youth for a few years now and I think your reviews are just SHIT period. I mean if you have so much bad mouthed shit to say about them, than why review? I think they are one of the best if NOT the best group out there today, they actually mean something, there lyrics actually mean something and not just that the so called "garbage" you said that's in the song's make them so much more interesting, I think your mind is just to small to comprehend all the music and the lyrics at the same time. That's what I see in SY and I believe that's what everyone see's.. It's not a "beatnik" thing, it's nothing but away people live there life and the music that activates there mind and THAT is why they aren't mainstream and that is why your reviews are so much BS. haha @a nerdy girl and a boring guy, Dude you really have no fuckin clue who artist's are do you? I mean look at fuckin beethoven you retard. Most people who express themselves are "nerdy" or "boring" to the average eye, what do you expect of them to be "flashy" and go out and shoot up and die like fuckin kurt did, hell I rather see some geeked out fuck on the cover than seeing a guy that ended up killing himself.

When I first purchased NYC Ghost and Flowers I didn't like it that much but it has grown on me the music the words everything mean's something in the song's and if you don't see that than that's your fuckup, and you shouldn't be listening to them. I heard SY this year on SYR5 in Memphis, and the show fucking rocked if I had the money I would fuckin follow them everywhere to see them, in my opinion they kick more ass than any bad that's out there at this moment that I have heard. The "dull" noise is what you would call MUSIC it's like rock meet's instrumental solo's that's what in my opinion MAKES SY, SY.

I notice your opinions are yours and you have every right to have this page, but you fuckin suck ass. Hahaha I can't stop laughing at you, you call them geniuses but go on to talk shit about them what the fuck crawd up your ass? I seriously think you are just jealous of the fact that the music owns you and you most likely are to fucking stupid to even begin to understand it. Fuck I have wasted enough time writing shit to you...later Get real.
it's like softnoiserock. sonic youth lite or something, but i still like it. especially the title track. i got to hear them play that live a couple of months ago and it was phenominal- the hugest wall of guitar i've ever heard. a good album to paint to, too.
Go listen to your catchy spice girl albums with everybody else that cant get something as awesome as sonic youth.
I couldnt get into this one. Looks like they took the boring and the stupid and uninteresting from the previous album and made a whole album out of it. Some good songs here and there, but for the most part, this one doesnt move me at all. A 5.
yeah, well, I'm going to see them so I thought I had better buy a few albums and got NYC Ghosts and Flowers first and I think it's divine. Absolutely inspired. I think the title track is the most lovely song. And I like the way the spoken-word songs aren't wholly poetry, they're like a commentary. And as for the jazz inflected guitar, I think it's about as forward looking as music has become. If you listen hard, you can hear some of the back ground guitar parts are slightly out of tune which is, again, sublime. I think you should all listen to it harder. Take it as the noise it is.
In preparation for the new Sonic Youth album, I was listening to all of my old ones this weekend, and realized that I hadnt commented yet upon this one. Well, this makes it damn clear that lyrically Sonic Youth have either lost it or never had it--maybe back in the day we were willing to overlook the terrible lyrics because the music was so damn good.

But no. As always, Kims songs are generally the worst. The music can be pretty at time.. the chiming guitars on "Free City Rhymes", as I'm sure other people have mentioned are really quite pretty. "Lightning" is contrived and boring. I really enjoy the title track, perhaps because I'm a fan of Lee's voice and perhaps because the lyrics aren't quite as bad as the rest of the album.. but also because of the way the guitar builds up into a huge screeching catharsis at the end. It's rivetting, in its way.

But the new one.. hoo boy, it's a good one it is. At least the MP3s I've heard. I've steadfastly refused to listen to the whole thing, because I want to be surprised.. but let me tell you, "Rain On Tin" and "Karen Revisted" are fantastic songs. Very reminiscent of the laid back, warm and fuzzy Sonic Youth of One Thousand Leaves. (Steve)
When NYCG&F was released, I was working the graveyard shift and I was heavily into psychedelic drugs. This album should have been the soundtrack to my Sonic Youth-obsessed daylight-deprived druggy existence. But no... I've never been able to get into this stuff, in a straight state of mind or otherwise. The "spoken word" vocals are unbelieveable pretentious, and there's a severe lack of innovative guitar noise. This album serves one purpose- it proves once and for all that despite Sonic Youth's affiliation with a major label, there seems to be little or no pressure on them to release commercial music. Good for them. The downside of their apparent creative freedom is that they have no one to blame but themselves for this fucking terrible material.
Hey, I agree with you that Dirty has some stinkers on it, but giving NYC Ghosts & Flowers twice as many dots is completely insane and makes my head explode. "Purr" alone kicks the ass of every song on Ghosts & Flowers combined.

Add your thoughts?

Murray Street - Geffen 2002.
Rating = 7

Lemme splain sumpin heeyow - dis heeyow Sonicy Ruth - Lemme tell ya sumpin about how much baddin they aint goodin heeyow. Foist of alle, dis heeyow compac dickoree is filled you unnastayow wid dis heeyow geeeeeetarzan museyow. Dey plays dems geeeeeetarz lak a buncha PROTENSIOW PEEPOW.

Move over, old man! This ain't your FATHER'S Sonic Youth! (can of Mountain Dew shoots through the air into an Extreme Skateboarder's outstretched hand) There is a NEW PLAYER in the basketball game of aging that we call Thurston Moore's Weak Vocal Stylings! And his name is Jim O'Rourke! Best known for his own band Gastr Del Soul as well as for producing every Chicago album that wasn't produced by Steve Albini, including Hot Streets,

Hang on just a second - I'm still laughing at that fantastic Chicago joke I just made.

(four and a half hours pass)

Fresh from Chicago and looking awfully swishy in his inside photo, O'Rourke brings bass guitar and swishy noises to the table. But this is a guitar album. Clean, arpeggiated notes intertwinkle and flankity-dinkle with the crisp clippy precision of a Daydream Nation or a Marquee Moon. The mix is broad and empty -- realistic yet clear. Clean interplaying guitars and weird noises from God Knows What. Along with drums and bass, as is usual with a roll band. Unfortunately, a lot of the guitarwork is just tedious diddly-doo. When the melody isn't thrilling, the lack of energy can really drag down a man's spirit. The main problem with the CD is that they've only come up with 7 songs, so a few bland bits here or there fuck up a pretty generous proportion of the album as a whole. Most of the songs have just a verse or two and then go right into long Television-style jingle-jangle doo-dee-doo-dee guitar plappin'. Forever. The guitarists are REALLY taking this one to the cleaners. Both of them. This is the most purposely "guitar interplay"-focused record I've heard in quite some time. They sound like they had a blast working out the numerous parts in great tunes like "Disconnection Notice" and especially "Rain On Tin." But dealing with 3 or 4 minutes of some of the most boring noise I've ever heard in my life in the middle of the otherwise compelling Lee Ranaldo strummer "Karen Revisited" is asking a bit much. As is expecting me to be impressed by yet another song in which Thurston Moore sings the exact same notes that he's playing ("The Empty Page"). And expecting me to not notice that NOT A GODDAMNED THING develops after nine minutes of guitar plickety in "Sympathy For The Strawberry." And don't even get me TALKING about "Radical Adults Lick Godhead Style!" (because I can't remember how it goes).

But the rest of the album, by which I mean Kim's 2:10 "Plastic Sun," is GREAT! Classic!

Okay, so it's called Murray Street, supposedly some kind of 9/11 reference. Can I ask you something? You're not from NYC, right? Okay, so here's my question: Does the rest of the country react the same way we do to this sort of thing? On the one hand, I am SICK TO DEATH of hearing about that day. But on the other hand, every time I see photos and footage (like I did right before I started writing this review), it brings back that awful, sinking, nauseated, hopelessly depressed feeling that I felt throughout that period. Feeling like I would never get back to normal - EVER. Luckily it only took a week! WHEE! But no, digressing, let me ask you seriously: Do you people give a shit? I'm torn, I guess, because I've heard lots of first-hand stories about how childish and petty some of the more vocal 'family members' are -- bitching and moaning because one guy gets too much TV time, complaining because one kid got called a hero more times than the others, complaining endlessly about every idea that comes up about what to put on Ground Zero -- and it just makes me think, "Dude -- you people are not the center of the universe! People die every single day and are left uncelebrated. GET OVER YOURSELVES."

So if you're cool with clean guitars intertwingling -- sometimes interestingly, other times not -- sometimes with weird electronic/feedback noises behind them, sometimes not -- then you'd really be into this. For my money though, I could have used a few more awesome melodies like "Disconnection Notice," "Rain On Tin" and "Plastic Sun," and a few less endless instrumental bits that drag songs on past the 6 minute mark for no reason.

Reader Comments (Steven Knowlton)
Well, we here in the Midwest had quite a bout of flag-flying (sales of flags were up 600% or something, which leads me to wonder, exactly how patriotic are you if you didn't own a flag before?) but I think the sense of loss isn't quite as immediate as in a town where you probably know someone who lost someone.

What I would like to say, also, is this: yes, firefighters and police officers who died in the WTC are heroes. But I don't think we should go on and on about their sacrifice without mentioning the civilians who died. After all, isn't risking your life in the job description? Whereas, for waitress or bond trader, perishing in a flaming ball of jet fuel was probably not mentioned in the classified ad. Their families were much less provided for than the families of the public servants, whose unions have funds for members who die in the line of duty. (Steve)
This is a good album. It's pretty sad that the bands influenced by Sonic Youth eventually ended up surpassing them in quality in the 90s(wouldn't it have been perfect if SY had broken up after Daydream Nation?) they still manage to put out enough good material that I'm somehow glad they're still together, despite the fact that if they had broken up in the late 80s I never would have been subjected to "Panty Lies", the introduction track on A Thousand Leaves, or the entirety of NCYG&F. About the September 11th thing- as far as I know, I'm seemingly the only person in my city who feels similar to you when it comes to the WTC attacks. Let's face the facts: The majority of people in this country are selfish assholes. That said, what's the point of mourning the deaths of a bunch of potential assholes who I've never even met? Don't get me wrong; I don't advocate indiscriminate hatred. What happened WAS terrible, but no more terrible than massive disasters in other countries that tend to show up as mere footnotes in our newspapers. And you know, anyone who thinks that Bush ever gave a shit about the death of a few thousand citizens is kidding themselves. Not only did the disaster give an inept fuck of a president a permanent place in the history books, it also singlehandedly triggered rampant patriotism. If his father had no qualms with sending thousands of people to risk their lives in the Middle East, just the protect the economic interests of the ruling class, what makes you think that this dyslexic cokehead doesn't feel the same way about the thousands who died in the WTC? Reinstilling patriotism in the masses would be a higher priority to this president than protecting the lives of a few thousand citizens. Fuck Bush. Let's hope for an assassination, or at the very least an impeachment. tle low on this one, Mark. You complain about the guitar interplay dragging on into boringinging land and then can't remember how "Radical Adults..." goes? That's one of the few songs on the disc that /doesn't/ have long drawn out guitar parts!

But anyway, I'm a dope smoker and this is a dope smoker's album. It's pretty and mesmerizing but not boring. I don't like "Plastic Sun" because, um.. Kim's grunty grunty voice kinda sucks. I'm positively in love with "Disconnection Notice," which just manages to be really, really catchy. And hey! look! guitar noise! Yeah, well, they're still Sonic Youth--you expect them to do away with the guitars? Silly you.

As for the title, it's a reference to their Echo Canyon studio, which is located on Murray Street. It was mildly damaged after the 9/11 attacks. (Simon Burgess)
I think, to be honest, if you weren't in New York on 9-11, then the whole thing took on a lot less significance. It was easy to just fold your arms and say, "Well the US government had that one coming". In this country (England), what pissed me off were the tabloid's treatment of it. First, they presumed to know how you felt about the situation - one article I remember from a few weeks later said something like "Think back to how you felt on that day. You were scared, uncertain about the future, bla bla bla". Fuck Off! I didn't feel anything, because I didn't even know the towers existed until that day (beleive it or not). The significance of it was entirely lost on me - I was working in this paint factory at the time, and had to try and decipher what was going on via reports every 15 minutes on a radio Tannoy, which I could hardly hear over all the factory noise. I was trying to construct the whole thing in my imagination while I was squirting paint into bottles, and it was only when I clocked off and got home a few hours later, and switched on the TV that I really saw what had happened. Even then, it was more suprise at the audacity of it than anything else, like it was a dumb Arnie flick. Now I see the towers everywhere, in every 'establishing shot' in old Friends episodes, or whatever. The other shitty thing the tabloids did was that the usual red colour title banner on the front pages were changed to black - for one day. This compared to the two weeks they kept it like that for Diana, and none for Dunblane. Fucking retards.

If you weren't there though, it's hard to elevate it in your mind above the level of a load more people dying thousands of miles away who you never met. Something extra has to bring it home to you, and in my case, funnily enough, it was reading your posts on this site at the time. All the fear and upset that you expressed was my only real insight at the time, into what people over there were experiencing. A few months afterward, they showed this documentary, which was a chronicle of the whole chain of events portrayed via people's camcorder footage. The sound, at the point when the second jet made it's final approach, of everyone on the streets of Manhattan going "Oohhhhhhh Myyyyyyy Goooood" in unison as they tried to take in what was happening, was just like nothing I've ever heard. It was like a totally fearful version of the noise the crowd makes when a footballer is running to shoot for the goals.

But as for all this memorial crap - everyone who wasn't related to a victim must have largely gotten over this by now, surely? The towers are gone, you can't them or any of those people back - frankly, I don't give a rat's ass what they do with ground zero. It seems amazingly unimportant. (Sydenham Lowriders Group)
mark it's people like you that make me love amerika!
Mark Prindle, you are still a gutless hack (about Murray Street getting a 7, not 9/11, I happen to agree with you on that, and I live in NY). It deserved a 9, the only bad things on this album are Sympathy for the Strawberry and the boring-as-death noise on Karen Revisited. Otherwise this album is perfect.
Born in Death Valley '69, Jim O'Rourke enters the fold as S.Y.'s newest member since Shelly and I know more about Bob Bert than I do about our Chicago newcomer who is about fifteen years everyone else's junior in the band. No matter: if you've been to a Sonic Youth show lately, they all are about Jim's age so the ladies now have some eyecandy as Lee certainly ain't gettin' backstage blowjobs in his condition. At least I hope not, and I'm no Mickey Rourke circa "9 1/2 Weeks."

I'm giving this one a notch (or two) higher than Prindle because I'm "cool with clean guitars intertwingling." Maybe the new sound it had something to do with the fact that most of S.Y.'s "how'd I tune that Univox guitar" gear was ripped and they were too baked to write down the tunings. So what we have is lots of Fenders (alternate tunings continue, it's the tone that's missing) and a relatively calm guitar-jam album. That isn't a bad thing. From time to time we need reminded that Thurston and Lee can actually play, and they do so quite majestically on Murray Street.

Prindle's harsh on "The Empty Page" which happens to be one of the best songs Thurston's penned to date and the best S.Y. opener since "Daydream Nation." The next two, "Disconnection Notice" and "Rain On Tin" continue down same landscape with the distortion regaled to the background and the soapdish pickups right up front. One would think that after the events in their neighborhood, our two Branca protégés found their peace with contemplative guitarwork. Very reminiscent of Verlaine and Lloyd, and perhaps the best N.Y.C. guitar jamming since Television's Adventure. But we all know Marquee Moon was their best effort and the same can be said for Murray Street.

What keeps this from coming close to another Sonic Youth classic happens right around track 4. "Karen Revisited," maybe Renaldo's worst written song ever ("you smell of memory, felt-tip electric child") just feels half-assed and unfocused. And for the record, I loved the song's parent "Karen Koltrane." Thank God the visions of "tripping out on the blue sky" ends around the two-minute mark and its back to the guitar interplay, eight minutes worth, I might add. Here's to shutting up.

Everything else's noteworthy too, 'cept Kim's "Plastic Sun" in which I kept expecting her to exclaim "boys go to Jupiter to get more stupider" until I remembered that song was from another album. She comes back strong with the closer "Sympathy For The Strawberry" where the line "just a flashlight there for a guide" gets me every time.

I can't end this without giving a nod to Steve Shelley who provides this album with some of his best drumming to date and should most certainly solidify his role as this band's unsung hero. Not flashy, not busy, Steve is content with propelling these long winded pieces with accurate precision. His restraint is key, as any other drummer would most certainly feel that primal urge to Keith Moon the kit while watching the veteran guitar players free jazzercise. God knows I would. But Steve's a clever fuck, and one could easily let his subtle flourishes go unnoticed.

So while Murray Street isn't on the same caliber as their 80's landmarks, it ranks up their with some of their best 90's output (Washing Machine & Experimental Jet Set...) and that, my friends, would place it on several best of '02 lists including mine. (Mike K.)
this and Washing Machine are the only post-80's Sonic Youth cds I have so far, and if the latter is any indication, I think they should try this 7 songs in 45 minutes thing more often these days. Washing Machine had some great songs, but some total shit annoying ones, and this recent 'songs with really long instrumental parts' thing seems to work wonders for their self-editing. I'd rather have "becuz" be 10 minutes long than have to deal with "no queen blues" or especially "pantie lies". See this time, there's no standout latter day classic like "diamond sun", although "rain on tin" almost gets there for that gorgeous guitar interplay, but every song is pretty great and solid. vocals following guitar melody or no, I rather like "the empty page" too. While parts of songs get boring, the only real piece of crap is "plastic sun" (oddly enough the one song you didn't find anything wrong with). The song rides an interestingly off sounding groove of the sort you'd expect from the fall or early pavement trying to sound like the fall, and the fact that it was originally more of an overt britney spears potshot is kind of interesting, but the vocals and lyrics ruin it for me, in particular "get your hands off of my tomato". Still it's mostly very solid all around.

Oh, and I feel like sort of pretentious saying this, but the picture on the back cover with the bent and mutilated "one way" sign made me consider exactly how devastating sept, 11th was in a whole different way. Unlike the image of the smokey towers we got bombarded with till it started to seem like a still from a bad action movie, it makes all of us that were just watching it on tv remember there were people who were fucking living it. People actually have to pass by this broken street sign that got bent out of shape because of a falling plane engine to get to work everyday. It's unreal.
u foolish child (Bart Borgmans)
i'm a long time fan, owe all their records, etc., you know the drill. And yes, Daydream Nation is probably their greatest record. blabla. still - to me, imho, Murray Street ranks as one of their best albums ever. i'm not into ranking actually, there's a SY album for every mood - and the Murray Street-mood would be the SY 'Grand Cru' mood. To me this record is all what SY is about : sound. just listen to first track at highest possible volume, with very good speakers - you'll hear what I mean. The way the instruments sound, oh my.. and so beautifull. this record is simply contemporary beauty, pure & simple. Its maybe not a record for a 15-year old, or for somebody who's angry at the world - but still it deserves a place on every musiclovers shelve - if you belong to any of the latter categories, chances are Murray Street will soften the blow. And by that, I don't mean this is a soft album. I hope SY manges to keep this quality up on their next - I'd be in heaven. (Michael J. West)
The "7" I think is about right. Mostly because I wanted more Kim Gordon. SONGS! I mean, I wanted Kim Gordon's songs, not Kim Gordon. Because she's married and that would be wrong.

And now, dear Mr. Prindle, I'd like to ask a serious question. One which you can consider my answer to your 9/11 question if you want. I'm not from New York. I'm from Washington D.C. What the HELL makes everyone forget that 9/11 was about US, too! I'm damn sick of it. "Well, it was the government that got hit there and blah blah blah military target blah blah..." Well, I'm not a government employee, I'm a private citizen and I don't even work in DC even though I live there. But it was still a nightmare for me and people like me. Do people think that those weren't OUR friends and neighbors and family members in the Pentagon? Do they think WE didn't have big fiery goddamn columns of smoke in our sky that could be seen from 25 miles away? I was at work on 9/11 and I couldn't get home because they'd closed off all access roads into the city...I had to go to my aunt's house in Virginia and huddle around the TV, scared shitless, waiting for my mother to call me there and! give me messages from friends I hadn't seen in years, who had called her to ask if I was okay. Calling, every hour, a whole group of friends staying together in one room in Adams Morgan, hoping to hear news of whether people we knew had been killed. We were hearing rumors everywhere, including on the news, that bombs had exploded at the State Department and the Capitol and the Supreme Court---places where MY FRIENDS were.

So call me sensitive, but I'm fucking tired of hearing that New Yorkers are the ones whose opinions about 9/11 really matter, as if they cornered the market on terrorist attacks that day. And I say that as someone who goddamn hates Bush and Cheney and Ashcroft, and for that matter doesn't really care for John Kerry and John Edwards either, and who is sick to death of hearing about 9/11 too. I agree with all of that. It's just that I'm even more tired of hearing about how hard this has been for the people of New York, and how if you weren't in New York that day you can't possibly understand the horror of it...well, I had to breathe soot and debris for weeks, too, fuckers.

That was a general "fuckers." Not directed at you Mark. You're a saint. And so is that delicious Lee Ranaldo, who made this good album with Sonic Youth.
I saw sonic youth and they played everything from their newest album, it was so awesome. I bet my friend 50 dollars that i could make out with Kim Gordon and finally convinced her to kiss me on the lips. I got 50 dollars, and since it was on a balcony, everyone that was still there after the show (like 1000 people) could see it.
sonic youth has really turned into the opposite of what they used to be... confusion is sex had 0 songs that i could even define as "rock", no choruses, no verses, lyrics that sounded like poetry, and here we are 20 years later and they're doing alternative rock ABABCBB shit with some interesting guitar noise inbetween. it's sad to see how much ground they covered from the start to evol, compared to the amount they've covered from evol to here. this is STILL a GREAT, AWESOME album, but it's so sad to see them only put out great albums, instead of different and important albums. i don't own sonic nurse but your comments on there all pretty much covered this. it's amazing how incredibly boring their non-noise sections can be when thurston isn't yelling like a 15 year old boy.

i wouldn't even be able to give this a seven, or even grade it, since that would imply i preferred it over anything they've put out past dirty... sonic youth would do best to compile a best of from experimental up, because i don't even see a point in buying sonic nurse, its all the same shit now.
You are a true dumbass. Youre basically saying, "get over it, thousands of people died, so what, its been a week..." Well, their friends/family/loved ones died, I think that deserves at least some sympathy.

Your review of this makes no fucking sense, Ill add. You diss the band and this album for a couple paragraphs, you make it sound like you loathe them, yet it says at the top 7/10! What the fuck? Then you go into a political rant about 9/11 and how it wasnt really a tragedy at all. Your saying how these people make you depressed, how do you think they feel, you insensitive prick? All that you write about this album is so completly ridiculous i want to cry.

On the subject of the album, Rain on Tin is one of the coolest instrumentals ever recorded. If you think it lacks energy, go listen to some Linkin Park, their really popular, and their song lengths dont exceed 4 minutes so you dont have to worry about listening to any delightful extended jams. Empty Page is just plain beautiful; if your looking for a rocker you came to the wrong place, but dont piss all over everything just because your dissapointed. If you cant sit down and enjoy some beautiful guitar arrangements, then dont be a music reviewer.

All over this site, you stumble to correct yourself because you make so many stupid and contradictary statements, just quit before you embarass yourself further. Go ahead and post this under Murray Street, I dare you.

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Sonic Nurse - Geffen 2004
Rating = 7

I've finally figured out why Sonic Youth fans like them so much. It's because they never change. It's the same way that I hear a new Motorhead or AC/DC album and say, "They're doing the exact same thing they've always done, but with minor variations -- SHIT YEAH!" Sonic Youth hasn't changed its basic approach since Evol - they've tightened it up, matured into less irritating vocalists and mellowed it out a bit (specifically through the use of a cleaner guitar tone for the last three or four albums), but the basic "two guitars playing hypnotic drone chords and/or notes that intertwingle-twangle with each other in lovely ways" concept has been set in stone for some time. They do it quite well, even I must admit, and it's difficult to not be impressed by the well-oiled guitar interplay machine that they have developed into over the past two decades.

But then there's me and my bad musical tastes. Maybe I shouldn't say "bad" (though I do like quite a bit of truly horrific music -- Gwar, for example. And the Meatmen.), but "impatient"? The average song on here runs about six minutes long, holds my interest for about two, and sounds far too much like every song appearing before and after it on the disc. It's a good album by a good band, but I can't imagine that I will ever view it as anything more than that. I thought it would make me happy to hear Thurston singing like an adult and giving up his sassy shouting crap, but instead it just makes the songs sound lifeless -- like the band is as bored dragging the songs on this long as I am listening to them do so. It's guitar music for standing around to -- no passion, energy, drive. Just competent, pretty playing.

My wife just noticed Kim Gordon's grotesque vocal delivery in "Kim Gordon and the Arthur Doyle Hand Cream" and queried, "Is this Sonic Shit Youth?" I replied, "Yeah, I'm reviewing it." Her surprised response: "Is this new? It sounds like the same old fuckin' shit!"

Indeed it does, wife. Indeed it does.


Reader Comments (Eric B.)
ridiculous album title and cover. i picked this up the day it came out, and i listened to it that day and i haven't again. it's okay. you're right though, sonic youth is the motorhead of art rock: don't evah changah that soun or joo git eh smakdown!

i actually liked NYC Ghosts and Flowers better than this. Fuck Jim O'Rourke. Fuck him up the ass.

his solo albums are pretty though. so maybe not. (Matt F.)
BORRRR - RRRRING! The first two tracks are really good, but then the rest goes on and on and on with too much of that now pointless SKKKRRREEEEWWWOKK of their dumb exspensive guitars. All the songs sound like really subdued pieces of shit. Like you have to use a fucking magnifying glass to find the catchy guitar lines admidst all of the "pretty" sounding fuzz and buzz. No thanks!

Sonic Youth can write this kind of album in their fucking sleep.

I really like "Daydream Nation" and "Washing Machine," though. (Michael Joseph Watson)
You're right there mark. The guitar interplay on this album sounds pretty but as you listen attentively nothing much really happens in any of the songs. There are'nt any songs that stand out. It all just flows together nicely and can be very boring. This is a solid sonic youth album though. Boring has always been a signifacant part of sonic youth music right from Daydream nation. This album is pretty much sonic youth doing what they do best and nothing more. Thats the reason why it's boring. Very much like murray ST but with a darker tone and a little more boring. Anyway I prefer the little less boring Confusion is sex and Evol, and the equally boring murray ST. If Sonic youth werent boring then they would not be Sonic youth. Instead they will just be dickheads:
DickHeads + Boring = Sonic youth. (John)
Im not even gonna buy this cos it’s just gonna big a waste of money. Heard it all before.

Unless Sonic Youth can find the balls to put out a totally different album they should hang up their dirty little boots.
Remember me? I'm the guy that made out with Kim Gordon. Anyway, I like the newest album. At first I thought every song was filled with mindless, "pretty" guitar playing but then I started to hear some awesome melodies here and there. Then Kim Gordon's "I Love Golden Blue" made me like the album even more. It made me want to return one of her phone calls and have her meet me somewhere so I could start a band with her called "Sonic Eddie." Sonic Youth by the way, one of the best bands of the 80's, rips off bands like "NXS" and "Lit" way too much for my personal tastes. OHH and every time I even listen to ONE Sonic Youth song I get these visions of Tom Sellick tickling me with his mustache. It ruins the band for me...
Awesome. Domestic violence is hilarious! Tell her to start making a more acceptable breakfast for you or it's curtains for her. This album is terrible. I sorta "phased out" Sonic Youth around the late 90's once I rediscovered Black Sabbath. I dunno. I guess it beats having a day job, that's all I can say about bands like Sonic Youth who still stick it out and want to be creative.

The great thing about Sonic Youth is you can find their albums so damn cheap on Amazon because so many people buy em and then just say "yeaaaah, I guess I could get rid of a few cd's" and guess what is the first to go? You got it. . By the way, I'm listening to Live in the Red by Pussy Galore. Now that's a fucking band.
I too am getting a tad weary of the same old competent Sonic Youth stuff year after year. Shit, I'm even getting weary writing about it (I intended to comment on each SY album, but got tired after writing you my take on "Dirty"), but I thought this album warrants special mention because it's actually their most consistently engaging album they've done since Washing Machine. That's not saying a whole lot - every album since then has been artistically satisfying but kinda draggy (I'm thinking specifically about "A Thousand Leaves" here). However, I'm a fan and have been a fan for the last 20 years, so I feel, I dunno.... kinda OBLIGATED to keep supporting these guys by giving my time to their albums. Kimmy's like an older sister to me - and like a lot of older sisters, her voice grates on my nerves sometimes! But I love them. They are my family. So when they come out with something with more than 4 or 5 great songs on it, I'm just pleased as punch! Maybe I should get a life. Ha!
I like Sonic Youth, but I don't like "Sonic Nurse".
I have to say "Pattern Recognition" is Kim's best song since "Kool Thing." "Bull in the Heather" is pretty good, but "Pattern" is better. "Paper Cut Exit" is amazing! Other than that, I can take or leave this album. But considering what other shot comes out now and days, it's pretty fucking good.

I first heard Sonic Youth with their Kool Thing video...on Yo! MTV Raps...they saved me from New Kids on the Block (I was 10)
I went back and listened to this record after hearing "The Eternal" which is going to drop and kick ass. Though it's a liberal marking as far as yours go for their albums I still think you were stingy. Judging from everything you slagged them for on the shit you didnt like, this should have gotten a stronger review. Sonic Nurse will hold up better than Rather Ripped, and it's a drag it won't be recognized as their return to form record. You did say in one of these reviews "I don't smoke hash though" and it may be as simple as that. This site is the literary equivalent of "Expressway to yr skull" ritalin and nitrus, keep on keeping on. When are you going to review the Grateful Dead? I know they're hippies but they're better than the fucking Smiths.

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SYR6: Koncertas Stan Brakhage Prisiminimui - Sonic Youth Recordings 2005
Rating = 1

On April 13, 2003, Sonic Youth made the informed decision to join NYC percussionist/sound designer Tim Barnes in a series of live on-stage jams to benefit the East Village's Anthology Film Archives. But these weren't your usual Allman Brothers-style southern rock jams that Sonic Youth usually prefer; this time, they chose to play along with silent films by the great experimental filmmaker Stan Brakhage (Dog Star Man, Window Water Baby Moving, Cannonball Run II). And make no mistake -- they SUCKED!

Alex Linhardt of Pitchfork Media, an obscure competitor of Mark Prindle Record Reviews Unlimited Enterprises Incorporation Amalgamated Corp. Ltd., has posted a very intelligent and insightful review of this CD at, so if you're interested in learning more about it, please check out what he has to say. On the other hand, if you prefer ignorant epithets and misdirected belligerence, I'm your guy!

When I was a toddler, my mom made my brother and I take baths together to conserve water. One time, rather than standing up and walking three inches over to the toilet, I simply pooped in the tub. I don't know why; I only remember that it happened, not my reasoning for it. Nor do I recall why my brother and I both chose not to get out of the tub, but to simply push our tiny bodies as far away as possible from the floating Turd as it slowly polluted the entire rear half of the bathtub. I was reminded of this event last week as I forced myself to listen to SYR6 in its entirety TWICE for review purposes, when a more rational response would've been to put on rubber gloves, shove my hand into the computer, manually tear the MP3 files off of the hard drive, and flush them down the commode to BURN IN HELL WHERE THEY BELONG.

Personally I wouldn't have hired Aleister Crowley to install the plumbing system, but the co-op board felt t

Droning noises, clanking metal percussion, bass thumps, two guitars feeding back and whatnot, Kim Gordon moaning through her pick-ups. BORING MAKING NOISE SHIT, NO SONGS. It begins with a toy piano, forboding drone and two-note bass lick. I urge you to cherish that two-note bass lick, because it's the closest thing to 'actual music' that you're going to hear for the next hour. The rest is a tedious collage of plucking, dwooping, clattering, note bending, swishy drum brushing, shitty guitar twanging, bass drum pummeling and Sonic Deathy ringing - endlessly getting duller, noisier and annoyinger until they suddenly RAISE A GODLESS INFERNO OF A RUCKUS ABOUT 45 MINUTES IN!!!! Then it goes away and they stink some more.

Between the forboding bass intro and the brilliantly insane ruckus, there are about six interesting minutes on here. This would be fantastic if the CD were seven minutes long, but it's 65. Or more accurately, S----i----x-------t----------y-----------F---------------i------------v--------------------e. I'd call it an 'absolute bore,' but it's actually worse than that. An 'absolute bore' would at least promote peaceful slumber; this irritating batch of clattery garbage promotes throwing the band's entire discography out the goddamned window, then running down to the street to stomp on it and direct cars to run over it.

The three tracks are untitled, which is appropriate because they're also unlistenable.

Reader Comments
This cd is not a one star release. Far worse cds have been released. This cd makes for great background music. I really enjoyed listening to it and heartily give it 7/70 stars. but no really, its a halfway decent cd and a lot better than most of the shit sonic youth has released (noise wise i mean)

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The Destroyed Room: B-Sides and Rarities - Geffen 2006
Rating = 5

When I heard that John Wilkes Booth had a new album out, I was so surprised my glasses slid down the bridge of my nose. "But... but...," I stammered and sputtered, "He's been dead since 1865!" Oh how I cried that night. If only I'd been born in John Wilkes' time, it would have been alright.

Drawings of John Wilkes Booth made my life so wonderful
Drawings of John Wilkes Booth helped me sleep at night
For me and Johnny are together in my dreams
And I ask you, "Hey mister, have you ever seen

But it turns out I just had shit in my ears; the guy was saying "Sonic Youth." The Destroyed Room is a longthy examination of, in the bands' words, "...our wanting to blur the lines between composition and improvisation... as opposed to whatever more traditional, direct 'songs' are out there in our wild discography." In other words, it's improvisational drone feedback noise groove art guitar jams galore! It's all fairly new and soothing though, so don't fear that you're getting Sonic Death II or somesuch.

Only three of the eleven tracks have lyrics, and one of those is just the super-extended verson of Washing Machine's "The Diamond Sea" (the other two are Kim intonations). The earliest recording is a 1-minute throwaway outtake from Experimental Jet Set, Trash & No Star; the newest are b-sides and outtakes from the Sonic Nurse sessions. The whole experience is really more about mood than music though. And jams that don't go anywhere. No, you know what it's like? It's like listening to a Sonic Youth practice session. They've been together long enough - and know each other's playing well enough - to create near-songs out of thin air. And that's what they do here. Some of the near-songs are a bit more structured and developed than others, and some are goddamned near pointless noise (come on - what is "Loop Cat" doing on here, and not shoved down somebody's toilet?), but either way, it rarely sounds like they're operating at full capacity. But then I'm not "Steve Improvisation," I suppose. I'd just as soon a song actually have some sense of direction, rather than noodle-dicking around like the sexual organ (or 'penis') of a noodle.

Thank you. That was my snide put-down of the art of improvisation.

I'd be willing to bet you almost five dollars that these songs were hella fun-ass to play as a group. Having played in 5,000 bands myself (rounding up from 3), I can vouch for the fact that when your combo locks into an unexpected groove, you never want to stop jammin'! Unfortunately, such strong emotions hardly ever carry over into the 'playback' mode, and you usually end up listening to 15 minutes of crap and wondering where the goosebumps ran off to. Not that this is crap, but then neither is that brown stuff that comes out of my ass.

Yes it's wonderful to have a donkey that projectile vomits chocolate pudding, but - HA HA! I COULDN'T KEEP A STRAIGHT FINGER!!!! ('face', but in typing form) THAT THING I WROTE WAS SIMPLY TOO HILARIOUS!

"Fauxhemians" progresses nicely from rainy-day murky arpeggios into anti-catchy garage psych-rock, "Blink" is a relaxing pillow of tones, and both "Queen Anne Chair" and "Beautiful Plateau" are actually structured enough to be called 'full-fledged instrumental songs." Unfortunately, most of the others are no ado about nothing. Draggy SY art-jamming.

Which is weird because you know me, I love Sonic Youth.

Reader Comments

Mihajlo Lalic
His wife left him because these songs are terrible.

I'm jaded for being a sucker and buying this disc before reading any review of it, and remembering the hard way what miserable pieces of self-important rubbish SY can throw together on a piece of plastic and call an "album"... I really think that there has never been an artist more in love with their own work than this bunch of fauxhemians (could it be that they REALLY don't realise how much the tirade accompanying this song - I mean - "collection of sounds in time" - in the liner notes, applies to them, too?). I was about to write how I expect them to release a disc of recordings of them tuning their guitars, but then I remembered that tuning is so SQUARE, man! So I guess we'll soon find out what DEtuning of three guitars sounds like... Listening to this brought me back to 2002, and downloading the "SYR 3" EP from AudioGalaxy on dial-up, which took four hours and cost me about three dollars worth of call time, only to find out I have downloaded the recording of a radio having weak signal for an hour. Combine this with Thurston's appearance in "The Year Punk Broke" and I dare you to name a more irritating human being.

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Rather Ripped - Geffen 2006
Rating = 8

Thee Temple Ov Psonick Youth is back with their finest bag of melodies since Washing Machine! Sure, they never change their sound, and certainly haven't done so here. But the appeal of these later Sonic Youth records that they keep releasing every few months is that, although they almost never deviate from the clean guitar tones they picked up a decade ago, and although you'll hear plenty of chord changes that you could've sworn you heard on Daydream Nation and every record since, the band is still capable of coming up with absolutely gorgeous music when they put their minds to it. And this time, it's paid off in spades! If you've read this entire shitty page, you know what a Complain Wart I can be about this band, yet I absolutely LOVE 7 of these 12 songs. They're uptempo, catchy, warm, memorable and audioically interesting! Sadly, this marks the end of their Geffen soundtrack. Will it also mean the end of the band releasing anything but improvisational SYR garbage? In the words of Asia, "Only time will tell."

Why do I love this album so? First of all, songs are shorter and more succinct than they've been in ages, with a full seven of the tracks ending before the 4-minute mark. Secondly, nearly every song is uptempo. Thirdly, Kim's singing is not only tuneful but often downright beautiful, probably her finest work in the band's history (aside from those fatally missed high notes in "Jams Run Free"). Fourthly, in addition to a downright catchy collection of chord changes and arpeggios spread thoughout the disc, the band has crafted a number of fascinating new sounds for you, including ringing 'harmonics chords' in "Do You Believe In Rapture?," gorgeous Unrest-esque bass/guitar/guitar interplay in "Jams Run Free," hilariously sick funk bass and amp noise in "Rats," an unexpectedly low bottom note in "Lights Out," Minus The Bear-style intertwining guitar arpeggios in "The Neutral," and thick bassy heartbeat percussion thumping in "Or." So appreciate that. Most old people who pretend to be young (Neil Young, Angus Young, Henny Youngman) are either uninterested in or incapable of actual sound experimentabilism once they reach a certain age. But not old Sonic Young! You can count on me!

Sure, a few of the riffs are dangerously SY-by-retread ("Incinerate" in particular has hardly any reason to exist), but most are not. Buy it! Seriously! Buy it for the energetic tempos, hooky melodies and lovely, creative instrumental interplay ideas. And just try to ignore the fact that Thurston Moore, who sings 6 of the songs, is incapable of writing a vocal melody.

Isn't this neat? I seriously didn't think I'd ever be excited by a Sonic Youth album again! It's almost enough to make me go back and listen to the last few again to see if I'd like them more now. I probably won't do that, but what a thought, huh?

In closing, here's a joke, to start the review off with a bang:

What do you get when you cross Thurston Moore with a baboon's ass?
A baboon that farts the exact same notes it's playing on the guitar!

Oh! Also, Jim O'Rourke's not in the band anymore, so don't be all listening for his bass guitar and crazy noises.

Same for Jim Sclavunos, unfortunately. He will be missed.

If you listen real close though, you can hear Bob Bert and Ernie Kovacs guest s

Wait a second! Did you see that? I just said "Bert and Ernie"! Ha ha! I didn't even mean to do that! That's great! Ha ha!

You know what song is really great? Eddie Floyd's "Big Bird." It starts with this awesome g

HAY! Did you see that? I TOTALLY wrote "Big Bird" without even meaning to! What's crazy going on here? Maybe I've been snorting too much snuff, Leupa Gus!

Yes, Leupa Gus is a good friend of mine I like to do a shout-out to every once in a


Reader Comments
Great record and great review! I really disliked the "sitting around" element to SY's last few cds and this came as a great surprise. This is one of the best pop records, with some of the best melodies, they've ever done. Then again, like lots of Youth fans I'm most impressed by their early KRAZY guitar shit but who can complain when they make CDs like this?

As for the "their sound never changes" thing -- well, no, it doesn't. I think the SYR set was their way of addressing that, by going out there and exploring areas they had never explored before. And since I never, ever listen to or care about those areas, I don't mind them sticking to this niche instead (which, with 2006, is now 20 years old whao). (Kevin Mannion)
Yeah, good album. I haven't listened to it quite as much as I'd have liked to yet but this is definitely a quality release and their best in some time. 'Rats' is the stand out track here, and really makes me wonder why the hell Lee Ranaldo doesn't sing more Youth songs. His voice is way cooler than Thurston Moores and WAY cooler than that bassist whose name I don't feel like mentioning. To be fair though, these are some of her best vocal performances, and theres nothing that comes close to being as annoying as that 'come on down to the store' crap that ruined a certain song from Daydream Nation.

Its a pretty solid album from start to finish, though not without certain mis-steps. 'Do You Believe In Rapture' is a bit of a snooze, and 'Sleepin Around' and 'What A Waste' are songs I don't think I ever really need to hear again. 9 out of 12 aint bad though, and the rest is pretty top notch stuff. (OK, 'Incinerate' is by the numbers SY but its still pretty damn good'. 'Jams Run Free' is a really cool song, one of my favourites from this album. 'Rats' is absolutely BRILLIANT. Great vocals, great bassline, really cool distortion; great song! 'Turquoise Boy' is very mellow and Kim Gordon doesnt mangle it completely and turn gold into shit for once. From here on we're in business; 4 great, atmospheric songs in a row. My only complaints: 'Pink Steam' should've been purely instrumental and 'Or' could've done without Thurston Moores bullshit near the end of the song, but these are small complaints amidst a very enjoyable SY album. I'd agree with the 8/10.
I didn't like this record so much as the last two or three ones. I don't know, but it seems to me like more of the same thing. There is no innovation in the way of writing or playing songs. And I have to agree with you, Mark, the way the guitar and vocals melodies go together is very irritating. I mean, it's so basic, it calls armmonies, he should know about it. I used to love that guy, but you have to admit he used to write great songs twenty years ago.

I think they should keep doing "artie" record with 20-minutes-songs of rare sounds and noises and that kind of silly stuff that they make it seems so serious and intellectual (sometimes they exagerate and destroy a piano with hammers... there's no way to make that seems serious... )

Anyway, this is a five or six stars record, being generous. And who's writting is a huge fan of the band, if you didn't notice.

OK, bye and sorry for my english. I know it sucks...
I wish I could love Sonic Youth more than I do. Why? Because they're really good.


S Fall
You are quite right about Thurston Flaw. Why sing the exact same tune that the guitars are playing? Is he cold or uncomfortable because his jeans are "rather ripped"? I think it's this that makes Sonic Youth a 7-out-of-10 band rather than a 10-out-of-10 band. Question: does any other group of this stature use so many singers (75% of all members)? And does this reveal a crisis of confidence in the singing department or merely suggest that they are more "democratic" than other groups? I'm very interested to know what everyone thinks.

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SYR7: J'accuse Ted Hughes - Sonic Youth Recordings 2008
Rating = 3

Go to YouTube and search for "Sneezing Panda." After you've finished thanking me, come back so I can tell you about another worthless Sonic Youth made-up-on-the-spot pile of tomfoolery.

According to the band's web site, "The A-side, 'J'accuse Ted Hughes' is a previously unreleased 22 minute drone-piece recorded by Sonic Youth at the All Tomorrows Parties Festival in the UK April 2001." According to my ears, it's the band strumming like one chord for five hours while Kim says "fuck".

According to the band's web site, "The B-side, 'Agnes B Musique' is a soundtrack-style piece recorded at the band's own Murray Street Studio in 2001 for a never-to-be realized collaboration with French clothing designer Agnes B. This 18 minute long musical piece was recorded with a 5-piece version of SY, the 4 members of SY being joined by Jim O'Rourke who also mixed 'Agnes B Musique'." According to my ears, it begins as a langorous druggy daydream with feedback, soft muted tones, feedback and chimes; then becomes infected with an atonal buzzing noise like somebody trimming the hedges outside a Velvet Underground rehearsal; then winds up the day with echoey/delayed guitars, drones and suchnot.

The A-side is as wearisome as recorded sound gets, seemingly an attempt to be artistic and hypnotic but confounded by the fact that (a) Kim Gordon won't shut up ("I sent my poem to Good Housekeeping....." So?) and (b) Lamonte Young already exhausted the creative possibilities of this type of music about 40 years ago. "Agnes B Musique" at least works to create a couple of notable moods. and for that I thank it, but by no means do I ever intend to listen to it again.

But then I'm not the target market for this sort of release anyway. I look for music in my music, not just random sounds. I'll tell you this though -- if I were in the market for pointless dicking around shit noise by assholes, I would find "Agnes B Musique" very appealing. It would indeed have made quite an effective film soundtrack, as it really does use varied tone and shadow to evoke a strong emotional state (or at least a vivid ennui), rather than just clang-clang-clanging away like a robot with a slowly detuning guitar around its neck.

Heck, if it had a melody of some sort, it'd be AWESOME!

Reader Comments
punk rock dident teach you shit, did it?
why review sonic youth in the first place?
i thought punk rock changed your life, asshole
it changed mine.
*sobbing* Leave Sonic Youth ALONE ! ! ! ! !
No, he's right. This a travesty. Rule of thumb: avoid all SYR recordings.

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SYR8: Andre Sider Af Sonic Youth - Sonic Youth Recordings 2008
Rating = 1

What I need to know about Irritable Bowel Syndrome

What is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a “syndrome,” meaning a group of symptoms. The most common symptoms of IBS are abdominal pain or discomfort often reported as cramping, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and/or constipation. IBS affects the colon, or large bowel, which is the part of the digestive tract that stores stool.

IBS is not a disease. It’s a functional disorder, meaning that the bowel doesn’t work, or function, correctly.

What causes IBS?

Doctors are not sure what causes IBS. The nerves and muscles in the bowel appear to be extra sensitive in people with IBS. Muscles may contract too much when you eat. These contractions can cause cramping and diarrhea during or shortly after a meal. Or the nerves may react when the bowel stretches, causing cramping or pain. Also, a bunch of tuneless guitar racket, swishy trebly noise, bleating sax horseshit and Kim Gordon.

IBS can be painful. But it does not damage the colon or other parts of the digestive system. IBS does not lead to other health problems.

What are the symptoms of IBS?

The main symptoms of IBS are

- abdominal pain or discomfort in the abdomen, often relieved by or associated with a bowel movement
- chronic diarrhea, constipation, or a combination of both

Other symptoms are

- whitish mucus in the stool
- a swollen or bloated abdomen
- the feeling that you have not finished a bowel movement
- the feeling that you've just wasted a full hour listening to a bunch of pretentious assholes fuck around for their own enjoyment

Women with IBS often have more symptoms during their menstrual periods.

How is IBS diagnosed?

The doctor may suspect that you have IBS because of your symptoms. Specific symptoms, called the Rome criteria, can be used to more accurately make this diagnosis. Medical tests may also be done to make sure you don’t have any other health problems that cause the same symptoms, such as a tape of Sonic Youth's 7/1/05 performance at the Roskilde Festival with saxophonist Mats Gustafsson and noisemaker Merzbow.

Medical Tests for IBS

In addition to a physical exam and blood tests, the following tests might be done to diagnose IBS:

- Lower gastrointestinal (GI) series. This test uses x rays to diagnose problems in the large intestine. It is also called a barium enema x ray. Before you have the x ray, the doctor will put barium into your large intestine through the anus—the opening where stool leaves the body. Barium is a thick liquid that makes your intestines show up better on the x ray.

- Colonoscopy. For this test the doctor inserts a long, thin tube, called a colonoscope, into your anus and up into your colon. The tube has a light and tiny lens on the end. The doctor can view the inside of your colon on a big television screen. In some cases, a shorter tube, called a flexible sigmoidoscope, is used to look at just the lower portion of the colon.

- Music Collectionoscopical (CO) series. In this test the doctor searches through your compact disc collection for signs of loud motor noises, clomping rhythmless drums, guitars scraping away at nothing, and a retarded monkey going "BRAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!" as loud as he can on a saxophone.

How is IBS treated?

IBS has no cure, but you can do things to relieve symptoms. Treatment may involve

- diet changes
- medicine
- stress relief
- actual music

You may have to try a few things to see what works best for you. Your doctor can help you find the right treatment plan.

Diet Changes

Some foods and drinks make IBS worse.

Foods and drinks that may cause or worsen symptoms include

- fatty foods, like french fries
- milk products, like cheese or ice cream
- chocolate
- alcohol
- caffeinated drinks, like coffee and some sodas
- carbonated drinks, like soda
- castrated dinks, like Thurston Moore

To find out which foods are a problem, keep a diary that tracks

- what you eat during the day
- what symptoms you have
- when symptoms occur
- what foods always make you feel sick
- why you spent money on this terrible record

Take your notes to the doctor to see if certain foods trigger your symptoms or make them worse. If so, you should avoid eating these foods or eat less of them.

Some foods make IBS better.

Fiber may reduce the constipation associated with IBS because it makes stool soft and easier to pass. However, some people with IBS who have more sensitive nerves may feel a bit more abdominal discomfort after adding more fiber to their diet. Fiber is found in foods such as breads, cereals, beans, fruits, and vegetables. Actual music is found in records such as Evol, Sister, Goo, Rather Ripped and Daydream Nation.

Examples of foods with fiber include:

Steve Shelley

broccoli (raw)
carrots (raw)

Breads, cereals, and beans
kidney beans
lima beans
whole-grain bread
whole-grain cereal

Add foods with fiber to your diet a little at a time to let your body get used to them. Too much fiber at once can cause gas, which can trigger symptoms in a person with IBS. At least one person apparently relieves these symptoms by farting into a saxophone.

Your doctor may ask you to add more fiber to your diet by taking a fiber pill or drinking water mixed with a special high-fiber powder.

Eat small meals.

Large meals can cause cramping and diarrhea in people with IBS. If this happens to you, try eating four or five small meals a day instead of less-frequent big meals.


The doctor may give you medicine to help with symptoms.

- Laxatives treat constipation. Many kinds of laxatives are available. Your doctor can help you find the laxative that is right for you.
- Antispasmodics control spasms in the colon and help ease abdominal pain.
- Antidepressants, even in lower doses than are used for treating depression, can help people with IBS. They can help reduce the abdominal discomfort or pain associated with IBS and, depending on the type chosen, may help the diarrhea or constipation.
- Decent albums, even in lower doses than are used for normal listening, can help people with SYR8. They can help reduce the auditory discomfort or pain associated with SYR8 and, depending on the record chosen, may help the diarrhea or constipation.

Another drug is sometimes prescribed for the treatment of IBS. Alosetron hydrochloride (Lotronex) is for women with severe IBS whose main symptom is diarrhea. Because it can cause serious side effects, Lotronex is only used if other medicines do not work.

You need to follow your doctor’s instructions when you use the medicine. Otherwise, you may need to keep taking it in order to have a bowel movement. Talk with your doctor about potential side effects and what to do if you experience them. Also, avoid feedback-drenched made-up-on-the-spot garbage.

Does stress cause IBS?

Emotional stress does not cause IBS. But people with IBS may have their bowels react more to stress. So, if you already have IBS, stress can make your symptoms worse.

Stress Relief

Learning to reduce stress can help with IBS. With less stress, you may find you have less cramping and pain. You may also find it easier to manage your symptoms.

Meditation, exercise, hypnosis, and counseling may help. You may need to try different albums to see what works best for you. If 10 minutes go by without a hint of a melody - or even an interesting noise, you may want to consider skipping the remaining 50.

Points to Remember

- IBS means your bowel doesn’t work the right way.
- IBS can cause cramping, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation.
- IBS doesn’t damage the bowel or lead to other health problems.
- The doctor will diagnose IBS based on your symptoms. You may need to have medical tests to rule out other health problems.
- Stress doesn’t cause IBS, but it can make your symptoms worse.
- Fatty foods, milk products, chocolate, alcohol, and caffeinated and carbonated drinks can trigger symptoms.
- Eating foods with fiber and eating small meals throughout the day may reduce symptoms.
- Treatment for IBS may include medicine, stress relief, and changes in eating habits.
- This is quite literally one of the absolute worst albums I have ever heard in my life. If I gave out zeroes to artists besides Madonna, this would get a negative 6.


abdominal (ab-DOM-ih-nuhl): relating to the abdomen, or lower stomach area.

Andre Sider (God-AW-full Piss-PYOOK): seven people gathered on a stage to share their stunning lack of ideas with an inebriated audience.

chronic (KRON-ik): a long-lasting medical condition or disease. Also a drug you'd have to be on to sit through this sophomoric noise tantrum.

colon (KOH-lon): the part of the digestive system that stores stool. Also called large intestine.

colonoscopy (KOH-lon-OSS-kuh-pee): a test to look inside the colon.

functional (FUHNK-shuhn-uhl): refers to being able to perform normal activity or decent music.

lower GI series: an x ray that requires insertion of barium into the large intestine to make it show up better. Also called a barium enema x ray.

mucus (MYOO-kuhss): a clear, sticky discharge made by the intestines. It coats and protects tissues in the GI tract.

music (MYOO-ssihk): a clear, catchy discharge made by the instruments. It coats and protects tissues in the ear tract -- specifically from high-end noise pollution, horrific brass belching, and Kim Gordon sort of half-assing some vocals over it.

syndrome (SIN-drohm): a group of symptoms.

worthless (WURTH-less): a cd without a single interesting moment. It's simply a collection of boring, go-nowhere noise.

For More Information

International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders
P.O. Box 170864
Milwaukee, WI 53217–8076
Phone: 1–888–964–2001 or 414–964–1799
Fax: 414–964–7176

The U.S. Government does not endorse or favor any specific commercial product or company. Trade, proprietary, or company names appearing in this document are used only because they are considered necessary in the context of the information provided. If a product is not mentioned, the omission does not mean or imply that the product is unsatisfactory. SYR8 certainly is though. It's a miserable record.

Reader Comments
"Actual music is found in records such as Evol, Sister, Goo, Rather Ripped and Daydream Nation."

Agreed Sir!, I would humbly add Bad Moon Rising, Four Tunna Brix, Hold that Tiger, and The Walls Have Ears in that mix, But i have found that all, really, ALL of the SYR releases have been measured and found lacking, in that, I would rather watch the movie "A Knight's Tale" than listen to them... and the movie "A Knight's Tale" is a FAR cry from the brillance of a movie like "The Big Lebowski!"

Drunk... yeppers!

Abide? Always.

Every day, in every way, I strive to be more Dude-esque!
Top notch, Mark! Top notch! Just where do you find the inspiration?!? Interestingly enough, my stomach did hurt earlier today. I guess that listening to this wouldn't help. I'll just stick to Goo(d).
Before I talk about how much I love this record I'd just like to say that I hate the people who would try to convince you that you're an idiot for not liking stuff like SYR4 and 8, or even Miles Davis and Charles Mingus, or the absolutely insufferable and feelingless Tool, just as much as they do. While I certainly wish you enjoyed Merzbow or the Boredoms or whatever, it's obvious the place you draw the line isn't exactly a point of closemindedness, and if you don't enjoy this stuff, a huge, analytical paragraph isn't going to make it sound any better. You shouldn't have to know what's going on in music to enjoy it. Furthermore, if anything needed a voice in the critical world, it was noise rock and hardcore punk bands, barely any of which have the same pull as more "academic" and "serious" styles that boring critics can wrap in superlatives (I know that this is exactly how I've been typing this, but come on, my email is a fucking T.I. song. I don't have to prove anything). In short, I love your site and am not asking you to change your tastes to suit the needs of pretentious "avant garde-for the sake of looking weird and not for the intended purpose of expanding the musical vocabulary for the people" people.

However, I think this is a gorgeous, slowburning piece of improv. The first fifteen or twenty minutes get tribal, hypnotic, and even downright funky at times, and afterwards it becomes a monolithic wall of beautiful, heavily reverbed Merzbow fare, intertwined with spiralling avant noise from Mats Gustafson. Fantastic. Not a "melody" or "hook" in sight, though (not that I even know what people are asking for when they say "hook" or "melody"; powerful moods can come from anything).

Wow, that was long.
Wow, at first I thought that I needn't bother with these Sonic Youth releases cause they don't play like their "real" album material. And now the rubberbandman197 described it as "tribal", "hypnotic" and even "downright funky at times" and raised my eyebrow and my interest. I find Sonic Youth confusing most of the time, not being able to enjoy their full albums and always missed the point in the noise they put in the middle (and sometimes at the beginning and sometimes at the end) of their songs. I love it when they stick to pop structures and it's right then when they fool me that I like this band, and then I hear the 20 minutes off of Sonic Death and wonder what the beloved band is doing.

I wish that Mark marked their albums like he did with the Fall discography. I am a sucker for pop, so I always look for the hook. And yes, powerful moods can come from anything. If a lot of weird noises move together in harmony they can be called a hook too. A powerful mood is also a hook for me because it gets me into the song. The only thing I find off-putting is the length of some of the "songs". I guess I'm not a "jam" person and I don't enjoy when a band is playing around for 15 minutes creating something odd. I like the pop structure and that's why shorter songs are more appealing to me. I don't have to waste more time trying to get into them, as idiotic as that might sound.

But rubberbandman197 is wrong about one thing: a huge analytical paragraph about a confusing piece can be quite enjoyable and CAN change one's mind. If you can describe segments of this record as tribal, hypnotic and funky, I want to hear it too. I want to experience it like the person who sparked my interest (this time it's rubberbandman197) and hear what they're hearing. I just wish I wasn't so much into the pop structure. It can make me feel narrow-minded sometimes. If I'm not ready to put that aside and see what a long jam has got to offer, I bet I'd be in for a treat.
As a longtime reader of your site who's now starting medical school and who was once disappointed by a pretentious Sonic Youth concert where they had gorgeous tone but were too fucking cool to condescend to play "Teenage Riot" no matter how many people called for it, I wanna thank you for comparing their last album to irritable bowel syndrome. Which by the way is affectionately known as Crohn's disease. That was hilarious in that, even though the overall tone was far more high-brow and restrained than you normally do, the whole thing was still one big smelly poop joke with a menstruation reference in it. I wonder if this review will make me think of analogies to particular bad albums as I learn about new diseases.
It isn't as bad as you make it out to be. Yet another rambling live album that isn't bad, but doesn't seem to have a point to it either. I don't know why so many of these are released by different bands. I think it deserves more like a 3 instead of a 1.
Castrated dinks!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Add your thoughts?

The Eternal - Matador 2009
Rating = 7

The good news is they're still playing the uptempo guitar rock of Rather Ripped.

"What's the bad news?"

They're dead.

Ha! No no, they're fine. I was just quoting Night Of The Creeps, a scrumptious horror-comedy of yesteryear. The actual bad news is that the songwriting isn't as consistent this time around. Most of the songs feature one strong melodic hook that the band then pairs with either (a) a long guitar interplay jam, (b) a Thurston Moore riff-by-numbers or (c) an ugly dissonant passage. Let's address each of these aspects now, and by "let's," I mean "let'e" (let me).

First off, the long guitar breaks obviously aren't a surprise; that's what they do. But it's disconcerting when a guitar break has no correlation at all to the song it interrupts. Secondly, Thurston can toss out those hipster 'tuff rock' licks with no effort at all (see his first solo album for proof), and he certainly does so whenever stymied for a melodic idea here. And finally, if all else fails, just play a chord comprised of notes that sound like shit together. Bammo Biff Bap Whammo! Your album is finished.

And yes, I realize I appear to have switched from third to second person at the end of the paragraph there. But what actually happened is that Sonic Youth suddenly walked up behind me so I decided to type it to them rather than saying it out loud. Kim, can you go get me a Diet Coke thanx.

Quick, while she's gone -- dearly aggravating my sense of hearing this time around are some of Kim's worst vocal performances in years. Her disgusting hoarse raspiness nearly destroys the sole mood epic here ("Massage The History," a mood VAMP driven by acoustic guitars!) as well as turning what might've been a nice ringing guitar clanger ("Calming The Snake") into a sub-Dirty screaming tantrum. Hey Kim we were talking about Lydia Lunch thanx for the Diet Coke. Lee can you see if that's a chipmunk on the patio.

Okay quick - Lee's career-long inability to sing on key continues here, and his two songwriting contributions might be his worst yet (Polvo fans should enjoy the spectacle of that band's mentors ripping off Polvo's early sound in "What We Know"). Thurston actually sounds good on the mic though; he puts terrific urgency into his great driving rocker "No Way," and his voice overall continues to mature from the shouty irritant he could be in his youth. Hey Lee oh it was just a bird? Cool I was just telling them how your voice is getting better with age.

In conclusion, it's another great outing for Sonic Youth! Good to see you guys, I'll talk to you later.

Okay they're gone THIS ALBUM BLOWS.

Alright, it doesn't "blow." In fact, it's almost up to their usual standards, full of sparkly harmonic tricks and multi-guitar aural surprises. And honestly, that's the most comforting aspect of the release: they're still exploring the possibilities of sound. Very few of these songs are simple verse/chorus constructions; they often veer off into unexpected little snippets of triple-guitar interplay as beautiful and/or bizarre as any that Sonic Youth has ever created. The problem is that some of the actual verses and choruses could use a bit of work. In addition to weak Lee-nks and Kim vocal abortions discussed above, we also have to contend with a terrible Fugazi rip-off (seriously, am I nuts or does "Leaky Lifeboat" sound exactly like "Do You Like Me"?), Thurston's pleasant-but-underwhelming "Antenna" (a smooth poppy "Sugar Kane" throwback that I loved until I realized I've heard the haunting chorus melody in some other song -- and now I can't sleep until I figure out what song it was!), and "Malibu Gas Station," an awesome driving surf-rock song (about Britney Spears, possibly?) ruined by a throwaway tuff grrl chorus.

What I like and what you like are five different things though. And this is turning out to be a very divisional release: it hasn't even been released to stores yet, but listener response on my FaceBook page is already running the gamut from "I only listened to it once and didnt like it at all and getting to the end of the album felt like a chore" to "Really? I think it's pretty great." I'm not trying to straddle the fence like a coward here; I honestly do vividly love some parts of the record and viciously hate other parts. Embarrassingly, I even enjoy two songs that I should by my own first (full) paragraph LOATHE; "Poison Arrow" certainly includes its share of gross wrong chords, and "Thunderclap" is nothing but Thurston Moore riffs-by-numbers. But consarnit, the former's dichotomy between screwball assfuckery and simple tonic/subdominant chords appeals to me greatly, as do the Helmetastic staccato ending and Thurston's strangely Shannon Selberg-sounding vocal. As for the latter, the song basically stinks but the little Kim/Thurston "yeah yeah!" and "whoa whoa!" vocals are so adorable, I want to kiss them both in their aging wrinkly mouth (with halitosis). Plus it's dedicated to Germs singer Darby Crash, which may explain why it's 60 billion times more fun than the song dedicated to Beat Poet Gregory Corso.

By the way, if this review seems contradictory and confused, it's because it is. When I started writing it this afternoon, I was only going to give the record a 6. But then as I kept listening to the songs over and over while writing, I came to feel that a 6 is way too low for a record with so many excellent passages. Is it full of classic Sonic Youth songs that they'll be playing in concert for years? No. But is it fun, diverse, guitarrific, uptempo and worth several listens to let the cruder portions grow on you? No.

No hang on, yes. Heck, even the ugly Gregory Corso song starts and ends with a killer piece of harmonics interplay.

To complete my excuse for the shoddy review: after deciding to raise the grade to a 7, I had to go back and rewrite certain parts, awkwardly cramming them between insults I'd already written. I still think it's a faulty record (Lee's songs in particular should've been rejected, or at least resung), but not so faulty that it deserves a barely-above-average 6. It may be an extremely low 7 -- but mister, it's Sonic Youth's extremely low 7.

Reader Comments

James M.
That 'Antenna' vocal melody is Court Of The Crimson King.

Mark Prindle, The Author
Sonic Youth ripped off King Crimson?

Man...that's some funny shit. (Jesus Christ SuperBear)
Somebody needs to put a sock in Kim's mouth because she keeps ruining cool music with her fucking AWFUL singing. Sonic Youth should just do an entirely instrumental album because the vocals are just an irritant most of the time. This album is ok, but could've been a lot better.
Re: the comment by Jesus Christ SuperBear, Sonic Youth have made some completely instrumental albums (try SYR1: Anagrama, for example). Re: vocals, most people think Kim's grate (I mean 'great'). (Zac Horn)
Hey Mark

Gotta disagree on The Eternal review, particularly with regard to Lee's songs (and i suppose the comment on lee's singing generally). I've generally found Lee's material to be the best on most albums, with Thurston's second and Kim usually a distant third (although i gnerally consider Rather Ripped to be a complete reversal of this's the only Sonic Youth album where i like Kim's songs better than everyone elses). For me, the highlight of the Eternal is "Yeah that we know"...
of course, maybe i'm just insane...i also really like all the SYR releases...and Syd Barrett's singing on Dark Globe (how's that for singing off-key?)...i'm a glutton for punishment.
Wish Fulfilment is still easily the best song on Dirty.

I'm probably one of the few schlubs who actually doesn't object to Kim Gordan's vocals.You get the general idea of the notes she is aiming for. How is that any different from someone like Ian Curtis (RIP) who was often flat and out of tune. But you always knew what he was trying to do. I think most people would secretly admit to themselves not "digging" the singer when they first heard Joy Division (even if we're all too hip to admit it out loud). Anyway what is this a Hannah Montana audition. I never demanded singers should be "good", just inspired.

So I like the vocals on "Massage The History". It's a bit like "I Love You Golden Blue" from Sonic Nurse. Sounds like they were recorded really quietly, late at night. Probably why Kim keeps missing the notes, cos she's not singing that loud.

Oh and the Anti-Orgasm song is just the worst song ever written. Or perhaps just one of the worst chord sequences ever. If someone announced they had a new song and played that to me, I think I'd have to confiscate their guitar.

Anyway it's still better than Rather Ripped. :P

Add your thoughts?

SYR9: Simon Werner a Disparu – SYR 2011
Rating = 2

I saw Motorhead live last night! Here’s what they played from each record:

Overkill – Overkill, Stay Clean, Metropolis
Ace of Spades – Ace of Spades, The Chase is Better than the Catch
Another Perfect Day – I Got Mine
1916 – Going to Brazil
We are Motorhead – We are Motorhead
Inferno – In the Name of Tragedy
Kiss of Death – One Night Stand
Motorizer – Rock Out, The Thousand Names of God
The World is Yours – I Know How to Die, Get Back in Line
Singles/compilation tracks – Over the Top, Killed by Death, Just ‘Cos You Got the Power

But let’s face it; they just stood there the whole time. Also – and this is by no means an insult – all their songs sound exactly the same.

So how about this Charlie Sheen meltdown, am I right who’s with me? Looks like somebody’s having a “manic” “panic”! (hair color) But I like to help people so here’s a bunch of quotes I made up for Charlie to use in upcoming interviews:

“I’m like a battering ram with a gigantic bowl of genius teetering on my skull and gargantuan bunny rabbits exploding in my shoe! Also, cocaine.”

“I’m on a drug called ‘Charlie Sheen’! And this drug only has a career due to the earlier success of a drug called ‘Martin Sheen’!”

“I have magic and poetry at my fingertips! That’s why I’m on a stupid shitty sitcom for old people!”

“Can you process that!? If so, please hurry; it’s due at the courthouse by 2 PM.”

Simon Werner was the only member of ‘70s Canadian punk band The Skulls to not wind up in either D.O.A. or The Subhumans, but this album has nothing to do with him so never mind. Instead, SYR9: Simon Werner a Disparu is the soundtrack to Lights Out, a French thriller and semi-remake of 1938 mystery Les disparus de Saint-Agil. And by “soundtrack,” I of course mean “Sonic Youth turning on a tape recorder, dicking around for 57 minutes, and turning off the tape recorder.” In fact, I’m almost convinced that it took longer for me to listen to the CD than it did them to record it. They’re just the sort of creeps who would disrupt the time-space continuum solely to bore more people in less time.

The guitars sound great – all loud and echo/delayed like early Sonic Youth instead of that clean Televisiony sound they later adopted. Unfortunately, they very rarely come up with anything worth hearing, mostly just jamming on three-note throwaways as they move from one bland non-idea to the next. It’s also striking how little they seem to be listening to each other, only bothering with instrumental interplay in a couple of rare spots. In short, the album just sounds like a below-average band practice!

When I was a youngster boy, my childhood kiddy band Low-Maintenance Perennials had an improvisational side project called “Sonic Butthole Dozer” (named for the three bands we were emulating). Although our lengthy ‘keep the tape rolling’ sessions mostly resulted in jarring mediocrity, we also occasionally happened upon a super-catchy double-guitar riff that we could then extrapolate on for five or ten minutes. It is possible – and in fact, not that hard - to come up with an enjoyable (though necessarily simple) piece of music on the spot. Sonic Youth’s abject failure to do so here is distressing.

Was this really the best they could do?

Reader Comments

Al Nennig
I saw Motorhead recently too! And they played the exact same set of songs! Boy was I glad to hear "Over The Top" as it is one of my favorite non album tracks. They really need to drop "Metropolis" from the set though, that is such a boring song. And did they end your show with a version of "Overkill" that happens to have a strobe light connected to the sound of the bass drums? Because they did in the Milwaukee show I went to and it was the most irritating thing I've ever witnessed at a concert (and I've seen Yo La Tengo!). I get that "Overkill" is supposed to be excessive, but whose idea was it to try and give everybody in the audience a seizure? So freaking stupid.

Great band though, I love them still. Good live show too, even if Lemmy is finally starting to seem a bit too old to be doing this. Maybe he was just having a bad night when I saw them but he was really botching the singing. He was coming in late on several lines and overall sounded very tired.

Add your thoughts?

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