Sonic Youth

15 LP’s and a TON of other stuff. This one might take a while…

STANDARD DISCLAIMER: Every post on this site is meant to be a constantly evolving diary of my musical views. Therefore, any and all posts should be considered incomplete at any given time.

Sonic Youth were extremely noisy and beautiful at the same time. What more need be said?

While I had some friends that were pretty into Dirty when it first came out, that wasn’t me. 

I think the first Sonic Youth track that I heard was “Bull In The Heather”, which I really dug.

At some point, I think I bought a copy of Daydream Nation because it was lauded – but I didn’t really get it for a few years.

It was actually Murray Street that really turned me on to Sonic Youth. I’m not sure what inspired that purchase, but to this day, it endures…

ALBUMS

This is the cover art for Confusion Is Sex by the artist Sonic Youth.

Confusion Is Sex / Kill Yr. Idols

Release Year: 1983
My Rating: D


Godawful wankery. Honestly, I'm surprised they made out of these early LPs in tact.

HIGHLIGHTS: none

Bad Moon Rising

Release Year: 1985
My Rating: D+


Not much grabbing me here, though maybe it will reveal itself on further listens? Though compared to LP1, something seems to be coming together here. Anyone want to advocate?

HIGHLIGHTS: none

EVOL

Release Year: 1986
My Rating: B+


The one where they start to get good. First 3 tracks are stellar. Heavy cloud atmosphere atmosphere on this one. Expect I'll be listening to this one a lot more.

HIGHLIGHTS: "Tom Violence", "Shadow of a Doubt", "Starpower"

Sister

Release Year: 1987
My Rating: B


"Schizophrenia" is their best track up to this point, and the rest of the album is pretty good, but given what would come after this LP, Sister feels like a tiny step back.

HIGHLIGHTS: "Schizophrenia"

This is the cover art for the album Daydream Nation by the artist Sonic Youth.

Daydream Nation

Release Year: 1988
My Rating: A+


The first SY album I owned. It took me a few years to really get into it, and even now it feels impenetrable in all the right ways. In other words, it sounds fresh every time I listen. It's an adventure of an album and one that tends to reward me on each additional listen. I'd say this one best represents what Sonic Youth's all about? The punk sounds great, the long instrumental and dissonant passages sound great, and they blend to form the most unique songs. Iconic cover art, too.

HIGHLIGHTS: "Teen Age Riot", "The Sprawl", "Cross the Breeze", "Eric's Trip", "Candle","Kissability"

Goo

Release Year: 1990
My Rating: C+


All Nation, no Daydream. Some of the songs are just pretty stupid. It feels dated, but I can see how it was probably a landmark for the 90's alternative mainstreaming. Not one I expect to be coming back to...even the highlights are a little MEH to me.

HIGHLIGHTS: "Tunic (Song For Karen)", "Cinderella's Big Score"

Dirty

Release Year: 1992
My Rating: B+


Nirvana's heroes make their own Nevermind? Well, one thing's for certain - that Butch Vig sure can produce. "100%" sounds like they tried to make a radio hit, and it's pretty good. "Theresa's Sound World" is one of the best SY tracks there is. Honestly, I'm kinda surprised this record wasn't bigger than it was in terms of sales. I mean, "Chapel Hill" sounds like it could've intro'd a sitcom (at least at first)! While it could've been 4 or 5 songs shorter, Dirty is a vast improvement over Goo, even if it's not quite up to the level of Daydream Nation.

HIGHLIGHTS: "100%", "Theresa's Sound-World", "Shoot" "Sugar Kane", "Chapel Hill"

Experimental, Jet Set, Trash and No Star

Release Year: 1994
My Rating: B


"Bull In the Heather" was the first SY track that really caught my attention. Really like the way this opens too. It's not a quiet record or anything, but it's very enjoyable. Also, it avoids the novelty, which they indulged in on Goo and Dirty. This one feels like the beginning of Sonic Youth's later era which, in my opinion, is there best.

HIGHLIGHTS: "Bull In the Heather", "Skink", "Sweet Shine"

Washing Machine

Release Year: 1995
My Rating: A-


I really dig this one. Seems to be the perfect synthesis of everything that came before. The noise is beautiful, the fast parts are intricate, the hard parts are delicate. And this is where it seems to really embrace the "alternative jam band" thing. Some of it sounds like Marquee Moon, which is always a good thing. And, well, "Diamond Sea"...WOW.

HIGHLIGHTS: "Becuz", "Saucer-Like", "Washing Machine", "Diamond Sea"

A Thousand Leaves

Release Year: 1998
My Rating: B


Not bad - there are some solid moments here, but nothing on the level of the highlights from Washing Machine. I do love the mellow vibes of "Snare, Girl" though.

HIGHLIGHTS: "Sunday", "Wildflower Soul", "Hoarfrost", "Snare, Girl"

NYC Ghosts & Flowers

Release Year: 2000
My Rating: C-


OK, it's pretty bad, but is it 0.0 bad? Naw. Close! However, the opener, "Free City Rhymes", ain't too shabby. But it is self-indulgent and pretentious in all those ways that would make it worthy of mockery. Some of it's just stupid - I hate it when Sonic Youth does that to themselves - seems like they can't help throwing out a "Boys go to Jupiter, Get more stupider"-style line every once in a while. Will I be coming back to it? Probably not. Though I will say this: it's better than their early work.

HIGHLIGHTS: "Free City Rhymes"

Murray Street

Release Year: 2002
My Rating: A-


It wasn't the first Sonic Youth album I owned, but it was the first I *really* enjoyed on an immediate level. While their earlier records have grown and are still growing on me, this one dials back the noise angle just enough to get at some great melodies. Most of the tracks here are really great, with the exception of "Plastic Sun", which I'm sure they could've traded for something bit more worthy. This is the one I come back to frequently...

HIGHLIGHTS: "The Empty Page", "Karen Revisited"

Sonic Nurse

Release Year: 2004
My Rating: B


Murray Street was pivotal for Sonic Youth, and Sonic Nurse proves that. It's not quite as GOOD as Murray Street, but it continues on the (apparently) Jim O'Rourke-inspired stylings that began there. It's something like the Adventure to Murray Street's Marquee Moon: nowhere near as epic, but enjoyable enough as an extended epilogue. I guess it turns that when your roots are avant-garde, conventionality feels revolutionary.

HIGHLIGHTS: "Unmade Bed", "Stones", "I Love You Golden Blue", "Peace Attack"

Rather Ripped

Release Year: 2006
My Rating: B+


Sonic Youth haven't been this accessible since Goo or Dirty, and I'll take this record over either of those. It features none of the winking excesses of the early 90's - it's just a catchy rock and roll record, Sonic Youth style.

HIGHLIGHTS: "Reena", "Do You Believe in Rapture?", "Jams Runs Free", "Pink Stream", "Or"

The Eternal

Release Year: 2009
My Rating: A-


A fitting finale to a great career, perhaps even a latter Daydream Nation...they really seem to bring all of the best threads of their last several albums together here.

HIGHLIGHTS: "Sacred Trickster", "Antenna", "Malibu Gas Station", "Massage the History"

SYR SERIES

SYR1: Angrama EP cover

SYR1: Anagrama EP

Release Year: 1997
My Rating: B-


The first track is good Sonic Youth stuff, but man does this series feel PRETENTIOUS.

HIGHLIGHTS: "Anagrama"

OTHER RELEASES

Let’s face it – this might never happen…

Sonic Youth EP cover

Sonic Youth EP

Release Year: 1982
My Rating: C+


Strange: based on their first 2 LP's, I assumed this would be worst of all. Especially when you consider the cover, this just has "bland noise punk" written all over it. Yet somehow, this is PRETTY GOOD! Sure, they still had a ways to go until they began to hit their stride with EVOL, but I actually find this somewhat enjoyable and inspired!

HIGHLIGHTS: "The Burning Spear", "I Dreamed I Dream"

Master-Dik EP cover

Master-Dik EP

Release Year: 1987
My Rating: heh-meh


Barely worth the time...

HIGHLIGHTS: none

The Destroyed Room

Release Year: 2006
My Rating: B+


A pretty solid collection of b-sides and rarities. A few of them aren't worth collecting (except on a longer boxset perhaps), but most are pretty good. Can't help but thinking this could have been a lot longer though, given the history of this band.

HIGHLIGHTS: "Fire Engine Dream", "Fauxhemians", "Kim's Chords", "Beautiful Plateau"

MISCELLANEOUS / RELATED

coming soon…

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