Today's act was associated with the No Wave art and music scene in New York City. Part of the first wave of American noise rock groups, the band carried out their interpretation of the hardcore punk ethos throughout the evolving American underground that focused more on the DIY ethic of the genre rather than its specific sound. The band experienced relative commercial success and critical acclaim throughout their existence, continuing partly into the new millennium, including signing to major label DGC in 1990 and headlining the 1995 Lollapalooza festival. The band have been praised for having "redefined what rock guitar could do", using a wide variety of unorthodox guitar tunings and preparing guitars with objects like drum sticks and screwdrivers to alter the instruments' timbre. The band is considered to be a pivotal influence on the alternative rock and indie rock movements......N'joy !
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Sonic Youth were one of the most unlikely success stories of underground American rock in the '80s. Where contemporaries R.E.M. and Hüsker Dü were fairly conventional in terms of song structure and melody, Sonic Youth began their career by abandoning any pretense of traditional rock & roll conventions. Borrowing heavily from the free-form noise experimentalism of the Velvet Underground and the Stooges, and melding it with a performance art aesthetic borrowed from the New York post-punk avant-garde, Sonic Youth redefined what noise meant within rock & roll. Sonic Youth rarely rocked, though they were inspired directly by hardcore punk, post-punk, and no wave. Instead, their dissonance, feedback, and alternate tunings created a new sonic landscape, one that redefined what rock guitar could do.
The band's trio of independent late-'80s records -- EVOL, Sister, Daydream Nation -- became touchstones for a generation of indie rockers who either replicated the noise or reinterpreted it in a more palatable setting. As their career progressed, Sonic Youth grew more palatable as well, as their more free-form songs began to feel like compositions and their shorter works began to rock harder. During the '90s, most American indie bands, and many British underground bands, displayed a heavy debt to Sonic Youth, and the group itself had become a popular cult band, with each of its albums charting in the Top 100.
Such success was unthinkable when guitarists Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo formed Sonic Youth with bassist Kim Gordon in 1981. Moore had spent his childhood in Bethel, Connecticut; Ranaldo was from Long Island. Both guitarists arrived in Manhattan during the height of the New York-based post-punk no wave movement, and began performing with the avant-garde composer Glenn Branca, whose dissonant, guitar-based music provided the basis for much of Sonic Youth's early music. Moore's girlfriend Gordon had been active in the avant and no wave scenes for some time, and the pair helped stage the Noise Festival, in which the band made its live debut during the summer of 1981. At the time, Sonic Youth also featured keyboardist Anne DeMarinis and drummer Richard Edson. DeMarinis left the band shortly afterward, and the quartet recorded its eponymous debut EP, which was released on Branca's Neutral Records the following year. During 1983, Edson left the band to pursue an acting career and he was replaced by Bob Bert, who drummed on the group's debut album, Confusion Is Sex (1983). The band supported the album with its first European tour. Later that year, the group released the EP Kill Yr Idols on the German Zensor label.
Early in 1984, Moore attempted to land the band a contract with the British indie label Doublevision, but the label rejected the demos. Paul Smith, one of the owners of Doublevision, decided to form Blast First Records in order to release Sonic Youth records. Soon, he received a distribution deal from the hip U.K. indie label Rough Trade, and the band had its first label with strong distribution. During all these record label negotiations in 1984, the cassette-only live album Sonic Death: Sonic Youth Live was released on Ecstatic Peace. Bad Moon Rising, the group's first album for Blast First, was released in 1985 to strong reviews throughout the underground music press. The album was markedly different from their earlier releases -- it was the first record they made that incorporated their dissonant, feedback-drenched experimentations within relatively straightforward pop song structures. Following the release of the Death Valley '69 EP, Bert was replaced by Steve Shelley, who became the group's permanent drummer.
Bad Moon Rising had attracted significant attention throughout the American underground, including some offers from major labels. Instead, Sonic Youth decided to sign with SST, home of Hüsker Dü and Black Flag, releasing EVOL in 1986. With EVOL, the group a became fixture on college radio, and its status grew significantly with 1987's Sister, which was heavily praised by mainstream publications like Rolling Stone. The group's profile increased further with the 1988 Ciccone Youth side project The Whitey Album, which was a tongue-in-cheek tribute to Madonna and other parts of mainstream pop culture.
The band's true breakthrough came later in 1988 with the double album Daydream Nation. Released on Enigma Records, it was a tour de force that was hailed as a masterpiece upon its fall release, and it generated a college radio hit with "Teenage Riot." Though the album was widely praised, Enigma suffered from poor distribution and eventually bankruptcy, which meant the album occasionally wasn't available in stores. These factors contributed heavily to the band's decision to move to the major label DGC in 1990.
Signing a contract that gave them complete creative control, as well as letting them function as pseudo-A&R reps for the label, Sonic Youth established a precedent for alternative bands moving to majors during the '90s, proving that it was possible to preserve indie credibility on a major label. Released in the fall of 1990, Goo, the band's first major-label album, boasted a more focused sound, yet it didn't abandon the group's noise aesthetics. The result was a college radio hit, and the group's first album to crack the Top 100. Neil Young invited Sonic Youth to open for him on his arena tour for Ragged Glory, and though they failed to win over much of the rocker's audience, it represented their first major incursion into the mainstream; it also helped make Young a cult figure within the alternative circles during the '90s.
For their second major-label album, Dirty, Sonic Youth attempted to replicate the sloppy, straightforward sound of grunge rockers Mudhoney and Nirvana. The band had been supporting those two Seattle-based groups for several years (and had released a split single with Mudhoney and brought Nirvana to DGC Records), and while the songs on Dirty were hardly grunge, it was more pop-oriented and accessible than earlier Sonic Youth records. Produced by Butch Vig, who also produced Nirvana's Nevermind, Dirty became an alternative hit upon its summer 1992 release, generating the modern rock hits "100%," "Youth Against Fascism," and "Sugar Kane." Sonic Youth quickly became hailed as one of the godfathers of the alternative rock that had become the most popular form of rock music in the U.S., and Dirty became a hit along with the exposure, eventually going gold.
Sonic Youth again worked with Vig for 1994's Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star, which entered the U.S. charts at number 34 and the U.K. charts at number ten, making it their highest-charting album ever. The high chart position was proof of their popularity during the previous two years, as it received decidedly mixed reviews and quickly fell down the charts. Later in 1994, Moore and Gordon -- who had married several years before -- had their first child, a daughter named Coco Haley. Sonic Youth agreed to headline 1995's American Lollapalooza package tour, using the earnings to build a new studio. Following the completion of the tour, Sonic Youth released Washing Machine, which received their strongest reviews since Daydream Nation. After a series of experimental EPs issued on their own SYR label, they resurfaced in 1998 with the full-length A Thousand Leaves. NYC Ghosts & Flowers, which featured Jim O'Rourke as a producer and musician, followed in the spring of 2000. O'Rourke became a full member of the group, touring with the band and appearing on and producing 2002's Murray Street.
The five-piece Sonic Youth returned in 2004 with Sonic Nurse; one year later, however, O'Rourke departed the band to pursue a career as a film director. Late in 2005, the remaining bandmates issued SYR 6, a recording of a benefit concert for the Anthology Film Archives that Sonic Youth had played alongside percussionist Tim Barnes. Rather Ripped, a fusion of the mellow, sprawling feel of the band's previous two albums with a more stripped-down sound, was released in 2006. In 2008, the band resurrected the SYR series: J'Accuse Ted Hughes arrived that spring as a vinyl-only release, while Andre Sider Af Sonic Youth chronicled an improvised performance at 2005's Roskilde Festival. They also assembled a compilation album for Starbucks, Hits Are for Squares, featuring the previously unreleased track "Slow Revolution." Before the busy year concluded, Sonic Youth made additional headlines by leaving the Geffen label and signing with Matador, which prepared to issue the band's 16th album, The Eternal, during the following spring. The year 2010 was relatively quiet for the band, with members concentrating on individual projects like Shelley's Vampire Blues label; they also recorded the soundtrack to French director Fabrice Gobert's film Simon Werner a Disparu, which was released early in 2011. Moore and Gordon announced their impending divorce in the fall of 2011, creating doubt about the band's future past their year-end South American tour. Apparently the split after 27 years has created so much bad blood that it's unlikely Sonic Youth will go on...
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Sonic Youth is the only Sonic Youth release in which the guitars predominantly use standard tuning. The album is also largely representative of their early No Wave roots. The production is also professional, with a crisp sound quality that wouldn't be heard in the band's music until their early-'90s major label releases. Drum-wise, the songs feature the more "downtown" roto-tom-addled stylings of Richard Edson, approaching the quasi-funk/hip-hop rhythms of 99 Records bands like ESG and Liquid Liquid. The bass guitar, though often playing minor key riffs, is almost funk-based, which was a common feature of post-punk and no wave music. The clean guitar tones contain little of the trademark noise that Sonic Youth would eventually become known for. Awkward and rather formative, the record sounds like a fusion of no wave and an early Factory band. A couple tracks ("The Burning Spear," "I Don't Want to Push It") match the best of Confusion Is Sex, steeping itself in death disco and minimal scree. Thurston Moore yelps, Kim Gordon rambles, and the guitars go plink-plink-plink.
Sonic Youth - Sonic Youth ( flac 380mb)
01 The Burning Spear 3:24
02 I Dreamed I Dream 5:14
03 She Is Not Alone 4:02
04 I Don't Want To Push It 3:31
05 The Good And The Bad 7:49
Early Live (September 18, 1981)
06 Hard Work 3:19
07 Where The Red Fern Grows 5:47
08 The Burning Spear 3:23
09 Cosmopolitan Girl 3:35
10 Loud And Soft 6:48
11 Destroyer 5:32
12 She Is Not Alone 3:29
Early Studio (October 1981)
13 Where The Red Fern Grows 6:45
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Abrasive and archaic, theatrical and confrontational, Confusion Is Sex marks the opening strides that Sonic Youth made during their long slog through the American underground scene of the '80s. And yes, this album is underground if anything; it's lo-fi to the point of tonal drabness, as the instruments seem to ring out in only one tone, that of screechy noise. Yet that tone in itself is part of the album's style, which is one of antithesis. The album isn't comprised of songs but rather soundscapes, while the instruments are your traditional guitar-bass-drums-vocals lineup but are performed most untraditionally. Taken as a whole, Confusion Is Sex is a spellbinding listen, especially the first time through. If you're a bona fide Sonic Youth fan, chances are you'll find it especially spellbinding -- the more of the band's albums you've heard, the better. However, if you're unfamiliar with the band, or a casual fan at most, chances are you're going to be thoroughly tested: this is not an easy album to enjoy. This album features a guitar sound often reminiscent of clocks and bells. This is created by using prepared guitars with screwdrivers stuck between the fretboard and the strings. Notable songs where Ranaldo and Moore used this 3rd bridge technique are "Protect Me You", "The World Looks Red" and "Lee Is Free". The band also used this technique on their debut EP. On later albums the group abandoned the technique and shifted to a deeper focus on alternate tunings. The group got the idea of the prepared guitar techniques from their experiences with Glenn Branca, who also published this album on his label Neutral Records. As inaccessible as it may be, however, Confusion Is Sex is a cornerstone of Sonic Youth's career, their true opening salvo toward underground heroism, though miles and miles away from such highly regarded albums as Daydream Nation (1988) or Dirty (1992).
Sonic Youth - Confusion Is Sex + Kill Your Idols (flac 289mb)
01 (She's In A) Bad Mood 5:36
02 Protect Me You 5:28
03 Freezer Burn / I Wanna Be Your Dog 3:39
04 Shaking Hell 4:06
05 Inhuman 4:02
06 The World Looks Red 2:43
07 Confusion Is Next 3:28
08 Making The Nature Scene 3:01
09 Lee Is Free 3:37
Kill Yr. Idols
10 Kill Yr. Idols 2:51
11 Brother James 3:17
12 Early American 6:07
13 Shaking Hell (Live) 3:17
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An album quite unlike any other in the colorful Sonic Youth canon, Bad Moon Rising captures the New York band in 1985 during its most morose phase, one that is quite forbidding yet fascinating all the same. The proper album is an eight-song tapestry of droning guitar feedback, distant clattering percussion, and dreamy vocal mumblings, all of it woven together by sullen interludes of ambient noise. With the exception of the closing "Death Valley '69," nothing really stands out per se. Each song shares the same late-night shadowy feel as the others, with no outright singalong hooks to be found anywhere; it's just one ambling slab of dark noise rock. "Death Valley '69" then brings it all to a feverish close, driven by runaway guitar riffs and a frantic vocal duet by Thurston Moore and Lydia Lunch. It's a piercing capstone to an otherwise hazy album and is no doubt one of the highlights of Sonic Youth's overall output. Overall, this music is a definite leap forward from what Sonic Youth had been doing previously on Confusion Is Sex (1983) and Kill Yr. Idols (1983); it plays as one long piece, a work that perhaps reflects the spirit of the time, American gothic through the glassy eyes of willful moonlit paranoia. And as such, it's certainly a step toward EVOL (1986), the band's successive release, which is likewise obsessed with the dark side of America and likewise informed by sweeping waves of ambient guitar noise, but much more song-based and focused than Bad Moon Rising's dreamscape feel.
Sonic Youth - Bad Moon Rising (flac 273mb)
01 Intro 1:11
02 Brave Men Run (In My Family) 3:36
03 Society Is A Hole 5:58
04 I Love Her All The Time 7:28
05 Ghost Bitch 5:40
06 I'm Insane 4:08
07 Justice Is Might 4:21
08 Death Valley '69 5:10
09 Satan Is Boring 5:06
10 Flower 3:36
11 Hallowe'en 5:00
12 Echo Canyon 1:09
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