Posts Tagged ‘Thurston Moore’

Sonic Youth

Sonic Youth taught us, that a guitar isn’t just six strings and a fret board; it can be a wailing banshee or a starling singing its morning song. They taught us that age is no barrier to breaking into music.

There are moments in Sonic Youth’s catalog where fundamental song structures are nowhere to be found, no matter how hard you look. But there are also moments of pure beauty to be uncovered in the wall of noise made by the band and its front-line guitar attack,

A testament to the Sonic Youth legacy is the bewildering number of styles and movements that they’ve been associated with over their 30 year history. In a career spanning 30 odd albums and 60 singles they rejected the grand rock and roll heritage, instead pursuing experimentalism and developing the notion of ‘alternative’.

Their unconventional guitar tunings, feedback and experiments with noise borrowed from the free-form style of Velvet Underground and The Stooges and paired it with the New York no wave aesthetic. In doing so they pioneered a new soundscape that typified a generation who connected with their awkwardness and abrasiveness. From their first album in 1982 all the way up to 2012, when the band went on “indefinite hiatus”, Sonic Youth put the ‘noise’ into noise rock – shaping the world of indie and paving the way for bands like Nirvana.

I first heard Sonic Youth on MTV2. an hour-long documentary about some band I’d never heard of. Instantly I was hooked. I think it was the opening slur of Kool Thing, the chugging guitars and Kim Gordon’s vocal, brimming in nonchalance. I’d never heard a band that could make such a magnitude and symphony of noise, collecting every studio album, then the rarities and then the snobs-only bootlegs and noise albums. forking out hundreds of pounds on Sonic Youth.

Since that day the respect and adoration has never dwindled. Sonic Youth are one of the most important and influential guitar bands of all time, and one of the most prolific. Theirs is not just a world of albums; it’s collaborations, films, books, art and everything in between. Being a Sonic Youth fan, you get the full rock education.

Their early records were marked by excursions into noise, feedback and discordant layers of sound that they occasionally turned into mini symphonies. By the time they settled on their core quartet — guitarists and singers Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo, bassist and singer Kim Gordon and drummer Steve Shelley they were finding exciting ways to organize that chaos. So here are our favourite Sonic Youth records .

Sonic Youth’s discography is rich with countless EPs, soundtracks, collaborations, solo projects, split singles, and the like. These run the gamut from indispensible companion pieces (the self-released ‘SYR’ series of mostly instrumental EPs, the Richard Hell-fronted side project Dim Stars), to frequently brilliant but frustratingly inconsistent vanity projects (noodle-prone film soundtrack Made In USA, pseudonymous side project Ciccone Youth), to diehard-baiting endurance tests (theArcmeets-Metal Machine Music amplifier worship of Silver Session For Jason Knuth). Of these, only the 1982 debut is included in the following review, for reasons of accuracy, and the fact that the band itself considers this their first official album. Many other necessary stopgaps, like the EPs Flower (1985) and Kill Yr Idols (1983), have been subsequently tacked onto CD reissues of Bad Moon Rising and Confusion Is Sex, respectively.

‘The Whitey Album’ (1989)

Credited to Ciccone Youth, and released less than half a year after Sonic Youth’s masterpiece ‘Daydream Nation,’ ‘The Whitey Album’ pays tribute to Madonna (Ciccone is her last name) with mostly new originals and a handful of covers. It’s supposed to be a joke they cover Madonna’s “Burnin’ Up” (with Mike Watt) and “Into the Groove,” as well as Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love” but it’s pretty much self-congratulating and unlistenable. That happens when the songs you’re making fun of are better than your pointless side project.

 

‘NYC Ghosts & Flowers’ (2000)

Before heading into the studio to record ‘NYC Ghosts & Flowers,’ Sonic Youth had much of their gear stolen. So they put together the album using older instruments and equipment that they hadn’t touched in years. The result was a flat, underdeveloped album that probably would have ended up somewhere near this place even without the backstory issues. (The LP sounds like a mix of their 1983 debut and 1994’s deliberately difficult ‘Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star.’) A reboot was in order, which came with 2002’s ‘Murray Street,’ their best album since their mid-’80s/early ’90s peak.

The least-loved Sonic Youth album by some margin, the underrated NYC Ghosts & Flowers is the sound of Sonic Youth starting from scratch, and not necessarily by choice. While on tour supporting 1998’s A Thousand Leaves, most of the band’s one-of-a-kind guitars were stolen, Fans who malign NYC Ghosts & Flowers may consider the album the point at which the band’s florid wordplay and Beat obsession would finally get the better of them, but more attentive fans will note that Sonic Youth has always used the influence of poetry as a catalytic element for their expansive jams, usually with transcendent results. If the specter of cafe existentialists looms too large over NYC Ghosts & Flowers, the album remains noble as an ‘all in’ gesture that casts a defiant shrug at potential alienation, and we might recall that the history of great rock and roll is pockmarked with similarly courageous endeavors. Twelve-string guitars are introduced, as is the presence of the inimitable Jim O’Rourke (who would officially join the band as a full-time member for the next two albums). The album also boasts a spellbinding title track by Lee and a classic in opener “Free City Rhymes.” NYC Ghosts & Flowers is a bewitching album that rewards repeat listens and deserves far better than its reputation.

The Eternal

‘The Eternal’ (2009)

Sonic Youth’s last album doubles as a neat summation of the band’s quarter-century career. It’s noisy, messy and arty; it’s also a straightforward rock ‘n’ roll album at times, brimming with definable hooks. In the end, it all still sounds like Sonic Youth, something they couldn’t shake over 15 albums. Not that they’d want to.

Diffusive and divisive, The Eternal has in common with Experimental Jet Set, Trash And No Star an affinity for direct, shorter songs, and as far as ‘final albums’ go, this one leaves us hanging a little. Picking up where the catchier and more immediately likeable Rather Ripped left off, The Eternal adds a new fifth member in Mark Ibold (late of Pavement) after a short-lived return to a four-piece for Rather Ripped. The meatier production of The Eternal well suits the sturdier, more melodic tunes, but it’s the endearingly seasick-sounding “Malibu Gas Station,” the romantic “Antenna,” and Lee’s uncharacteristically somber “What We Know” that really sparkle. And no Sonic Youth mix CD would be complete without the hopped-up “Leaky Lifeboat (For Gregory Corso),” featuring a rare Thurston and Kim unison vocal that conjures a bizarro world Dead Moon.

Sonic Youth (1982)

Originally released on Glenn Branca’s Neutral label and the only Sonic Youth album to feature original drummer Richard Edson, the band’s debut sounds like the dark, post-punk cousin of Thurston’s spunky new wave band The Coachmen. Punk mostly in the temporal sense, the songs force-feed jangle to dissonance, occasionally sounding like a more melodic (though not much more) Public Image Limited. Though almost unrecognizable from the Sonic Youth we know today, Sonic Youth nevertheless remains a decent if inauspicious debut that offers a fleeting glimpse of what was to come. It’s also fitting that the cassette version of the first album by a band that would become synonymous with experimentation features the entire program repeated on side 2 –- in reverse.

‘Rather Ripped’ (2006)

Jim O’Rourke, who helped round out ‘Murray Street’ and ‘Sonic Nurse,’ was gone, and the band was about finished with Geffen Records, too. Their last album for the major label that briefly carried them outside of cult status is also one of their most accessible. The melodies and production never sounded cleaner, and the grown-up themes covered here, like infidelity, hinted at the personal problems that would end the band five years later.
Both “Rather Ripped” and “The Eternal”, their last two records, command nothing less than an energetic free-for-all and very rarely feel the need to stop and come up for air.

Rather Ripped was Sonic Youth’s last contracted album for Geffen, and you could say they went out with a bang. From the punk-evoking stencil fonts on the cover to the relative brevity of the songs (seven out of 12 tunes clock in at under four minutes!), the message is clear: no fucking around. Steve’s drums are mixed good and loud, which ably serves this relatively cleaned-up and frequently poppy version of the band. The least noisy Sonic Youth album since the s/t EP, Rather Ripped nevertheless forsakes none of the band’s classic dynamism and charm — think of it as a well-earned vay-cay from the yawning void. “Incinerate” is the band’s best single in years, Lee’s “Rats” outrocks everything on classic rock radio, and the oddly bucolic “The Neutral” marries a Paisley Underground jangle to shimmery guitars reminiscent of the Cure circa Disintegration (this is likely accidental). Not a moment of Rather Ripped meanders and not a note is wasted. Missing the spectral abstraction fans have begun to expect from this era, this is definitely not the Sonic Youth album to patiently count ceiling tiles to, but as a showcase for the leaner, punchier side of the band, Rather Ripped more than holds its own.

‘A Thousand Leaves’ (1998)

Sonic Youth made some money as part of the 1995 Lollapalooza festival, so they invested it in their own studio, which led to 1998’s overindulgent ‘A Thousand Leaves’ Two songs push the nine-minute mark, and one clocks in at an exhausting 11 minutes. It’s their most mannered and most excessive album, but there are some good moments buried here.

The first thing you notice about the Sonic Youth of A Thousand Leaves is that there are fewer traces of punk than ever, at least in the aural sense. Following a long tour, the band established their own studio, Echo Canyon, to allow for more time to experiment with the backlog of songs written during the three-year break between albums — the longest such break in the band’s history. It is no wonder all of this wood-shedding yielded the first batch of the mostly crucial SYR series of non-album studio experiments. Though the band’s jammy tendencies came to the fore on previous album Washing Machine, there are no caffeinated respites like that album’s “No Queen Blues” to be found here. A Thousand Leaves, however, more than any other Sonic Youth album, provides a bridge that connects two of the band’s distinct phases, and, as such, is a great introductory album for newcomers. While “Wildflower Soul” hearkens back to the spindly jams of EVOL, and “Sunday” recalls the melancholic motorik of classics like “Dirty Boots,” songs like the epic “Hits Of Sunshine (For Allen Ginsberg)” foreshadow the Beat-obsessed ethereality of future albums NYC Ghosts & FlowersandMurray Street.

Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star [VINYL]

‘Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star’ (1994)

Thanks to the emerging alternative nation, Sonic Youth broke into modern-rock radio with 1990’s ‘Goo’ and 1992’s ‘Dirty.’ For their next album, they almost entirely abandoned the commercial pathways they had forged. They also left behind the sharper sense of songcraft and the relatively big hooks found on the preceding LPs. The result was a moody, dismal record that probably pleased old fans who thought they had sold out on ‘Goo’ and ‘Dirty,‘ but it’s a bummer all the way.

Based on the title alone, many fans might have incorrectly assumed, upon its release, that Experimental Jet Set, Trash And No Star was a collection of three EPs. In retrospect, that feeling of disengagement from the material as a body of work is understandable. Experimental Jet Set, Trash And No Star is the first album to not feature a Lee-sung number since Bad Moon Rising (also a lesser album in the discography –- coincidence?), and was to be followed by a long touring hiatus. Recorded by a likely baffled Butch Vig the album is full of short, jarring songs with atmosphere to spare. There are some brilliant moments –- the propulsive “Bull In The Heather” is a sort of cousin to the Breeders’ unlikely hit “Cannonball,” and the chugging “Screaming Skull” is manna for fans wishing every Sonic Youth song was a variation on “100%.” Another highlight is Thurston’s affecting “Winner’s Blues,” a rare ‘unplugged’ number that portends future solo album Demolished Thoughts. Bonus: to save money, Experimental Jet Set, Trash And No Star was recorded over the band’s previously used master tapes (a common practice), so if you turn the album up real loud, you can hear Sister leak through during quiet parts!

‘Confusion Is Sex’ (1983)

Messy, noisy and lo-fi to the point it renders the album almost unlistenable, Sonic Youth’s debut LP suffers because of its unfocused chaos. The band used this approach a few times throughout its career, but ‘Confusion Is Sex’ is coupled with the inescapable fact that Sonic Youth hadn’t yet learned how to make records.

Confusion Is Sex is a great record, but only a contrarian would name it a favorite. The frankly terrifying Sonic Youth of Confusion Is Sex is mostly absent from later albums (and the debut EP), but it’s a most welcome anomaly. Unlike Bad Moon Rising, the unselfconscious nihilism of Confusion Is Sex rings remarkably true. The leaden and uneasy opener “She’s In A Bad Mood” sets the tone, as each subsequent song one-ups the previous one with increasingly intensifying onslaughts of sinister solid-state rumble and somnambulent keening. Even the cover of the Stooges’ pogo-worthy “I Wanna Be Your Dog” sounds here like something Swans deemed too unsettling to release (Swans drummer Jim Sclavunos plays on all but two tracks). Other highlights like “Shaking Hell” and “Protect Me You” (which — trivia fans take note — is the only Sonic Youth song on which Lee has ever played bass!) feature guitars that sound like the vibrations of axe handles after striking a stone. Visceral and relentless, Confusion Is Sex is one the best no-wave albums of all time, and the fact that it doesn’t even crack the top 10 of this countdown says a lot more about this band than this album.

‘Bad Moon Rising’ (1985)

Between their first and second albums, Sonic Youth released a pair of EPs that nailed down the classic sound they were inching toward and which they finally achieved here. There were still a few ragged edges to shake off, but ‘Bad Moon Rising’ leads straight into the band’s most productive and fertile period. By their next album, Sonic Youth’s core lineup was complete.

The 1985 sophomore album, reissued and add four bonus tracks. Features Death Valley ’69 with Lydia Lunch. Sonic Youth’s second full-length LP Bad Moon Rising was originally released on Homestead and Blast First in 1985. The album is a fascinating examination of “the junction where hippie idealism [meets] the cold hard world,” says guitarist Lee Ranaldo, “where Woodstock [meets] Altamont Death Valley, Charles Manson, Brian Wilson, musicians, murderers, heroes and villains.” Its original eight-song tapestry of droning guitar feedback, distant clattering percussion, and sullen vocals, all held together with interstitial noise loops and shadowy haze, ambles through a long, dark night before the feverish Death Valley ’69, driven by runaway guitar riffs and a frantic Thurston Moore / Lydia Lunch vocal duet, pounds the capstone into place. Sonic Youth’s big leap forward from Confusion Is Sex and Kill Yr Idols “reflects the spirit of the time,” to quote All Music Guide. Bad Moon Rising views “American gothic through the glassy eyes of wilful moonlit paranoia.” Back in print on Goofin’ Records, this reissue includes bonus tracks Flower and Halloween, both from a 12″ single of the same era.

‘Murray Street’ (2002)

Sonic Youth had spent more than a half decade creatively lost when they released ‘Murray Street’ in 2002. The emergence and destruction of the alternative rock boom in the mid-’90s was both a blessing and a curse, as the band, after reaching relative commercial success, violently turned away with some of its most experimental noise. ‘Murray Street,’ which added multi-instrumentalist Jim O’Rourke to the lineup, marks a comeback powered by a compromise of everything they do so well namely beautiful noise occasionally shrouded in vaguely straightforward songs.

Murray Street is the first of two albums to feature newly minted fifth member Jim O’Rourke, and if his influence is harder to detect here than on, say, Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, consider that a weird guy supplementing a weird band will naturally have fewer noticeably drastic results than a weird guy supplementing a not-as-weird band. Though Kim has never been a stranger to playing guitar on Sonic Youth records (in fact, she’d been favoring it for years), O’Rourke’s auxiliary support facilitated both the three-guitar era of Sonic Youth and the added excitement of Thurston and Kim as occasional frontman and frontwoman, respectively, during concerts. When diehards insist that the band’s late Geffen years are often overlooked, they mean this album. All over Murray Street, guitars corkscrew around each other like a 21st century Television bequeathed with a second Richard Lloyd, with every sound rendered in loping, immersive tangles. Call it a ‘return to form’ if you like — for once, the appellation fits. “Karen Revisited,” whose ambitious mixing of studio recordings with live jams does nothing to dispel notions of Sonic Youth as the new Grateful Dead, anchors the album with typical slow-burning guitar synergism. “Sympathy For The Strawberry” (featuring Lee on keys!) slowly cascades from delicate restraint to white-knuckled abandon. Best of all is the dreamy and profluent “Rain On Tin,” whose celestial jam sounds like it’s trying to provide the soundtrack to a visit to the best planetarium ever.

2002’s “Murray Street”, typifies everything great about Sonic Youth: it’s part gentle, part manic, part cool, part quirky, part rocking and even part referential.

‘Sonic Nurse’ (2004)

‘Murray Street,’ from 2002, was the comeback album Sonic Youth desperately needed in the new millennium. The follow-up, ‘Sonic Nurse’ didn’t alter much. But where they sounded like they had something to prove on ‘Murray Street’ the group settles here, mining familiar territory for much of the album’s 60-plus minutes. It’s not bad, but there’s nothing really special about it either.

Sonic Nurse sounds, in many ways, like a sequel to Washing Machine both albums are records of remarkable maturity and depth and both hit the song-to-jam ratio just right. The songs on Sonic Nurse are mostly appended and enlivened by noisy-not-noodly improvisations, with clean guitars snaking their way around winsome clusters of gauzy low-end fuzz and supple percussion. Sonic Nurse is also back-loaded, and while this does not diminish tracks like the effortlessly dazzling “Unmade Bed” or the frenetic William Gibson ode “Pattern Recognition,” from track 5 (“Stones”) on, Sonic Nurse is perfection.

Washing Machine

‘Washing Machine’ (1995)

The album on which Sonic Youth became a jam band. Following the disastrous ‘Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star’ from the year before, ‘Washing Machine’ returned to more structured songs, but with one new quirk: a handful of super-long songs. The epic closing number, “The Diamond Sea,” runs nearly 20 minutes, and it’s the best thing on the album. The guitars once again take the spotlight on their last great album until the ’00s.

They’re a band that confidently conjures up moments of flurried aggression alongside a unique brand of improvised majesty–a trait that is best exemplified by the awe-inspiring closer “The Diamond Sea” from the album “Washing Machine”.

Full disclosure: Washing Machine is my favorite Sonic Youth album. Though it cannot be given the title of ‘best’ in any objective way, it’s the one I often reach for when I need a dose. This is Kim’s album, the one on which she shines brightest, and the one on which her boho beat persona is most convincing and inspired. The title track is a marvel, beginning with a Loaded-era Velvets choogle that eventually segues at about four minutes in to a magical, goosebump-worthy moment of guitar catharsis. Lee’s great “Skip Tracer” features lyrics that rival even Steely Dan’s observational cynicism, and “Little Trouble Girl,” abetted by a great vocal cameo by Kim Deal, is “Tunic” with a Shangri-Las makeover. This leaves the elegiac “The Diamond Sea,” which you could consider Sonic Youth’s “Dark Star” if the comparison wasn’t such a cliché at this point. An awe-inspiring masterpiece of improvisation, “The Diamond Sea” is a moiré of atonal scrambling and harmonic scree that feels far too short at 19 and a half minutes. Washing Machine provides a roomy antidote to the claustrophobia of Goo and Experimental Jet Set, Trash And No Star, and the most perfect balance yet of the band’s rockist and avant tendencies. Even the cover art rules: Meta and mysterious as ever, the band chose to spotlight the torsos of two teenage fans in Sonic Youth T-shirts, one of which is autographed — by members of the band Come.

Evol

‘EVOL’ (1986)

The first album to include the classic Sonic Youth lineup of Thurston Moore, Kim Gordon, Lee Ranaldo and Steve Shelley, and their first LP to move closer to more conventional songwriting. The changes did them good. Tempering the noise factor, but still striking an experimental note that keeps the songs from drifting into predictability, ‘EVOL’ completes the creative leap started on the previous year’s ‘Bad Moon Rising.’

EVOL is an album full of suspense. Taken together with its proper follow-up, Sister, EVOL provides the cornerstone upon which the ‘Sonic Youth sound’ is built, due in part to the debut of drummer Steve Shelley, who would remain with the band permanently. EVOL is ground zero for the combination of chiming guitars and atonal skronk, qualities mostly absent on the band’s first EP and only hinted at on previous albums. It is on EVOL that Sonic Youth first happens upon the muggy delirium with which they would make with their name, launching a half million imitators in its wake. The virile “Tom Violence” sounds less ‘written’ than ‘coaxed from a cauldron,’ the sort of song that fogs windows. The off-kilter “Starpower” is a droning love song sung in frosty monotone — Kim evoking Nico. “In The Kingdom #19” features Mike Watt on bass and marks the debut of a Lee vocal, and what a debut! The harrowing story of a highway wreck over a suitably edgy instrumental backing, the tune is punctuated by a classic (and audible) moment of studio hijinx, as Thurston surprises Lee, mid-take, by hurling a handful of live firecrackers into the vocal booth. They don’t make ’em like this anymore.

Dirty

‘Dirty’ (1992)

The follow-up to ‘Goo’ pretty much repeats the big-ideas-and-even-bigger-songs approach of that 1990 breakthrough. Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ producer, Butch Vig, cleans up ‘Dirty,’ a reaction and tribute to the growing grunge scene. It’s about as close to a mainstream record that Sonic Youth ever made — “100%” made it all the way to No. 4 on the modern-rock chart — but they never lost their individualism along the way.

Fuzzed-up bass lines and irreverent words of Sonic Wisdom define the expensive-sounding “Dirty”, a record that finds itself living in great tonal opposition to later works like the spacey “A Thousand Leaves” and darling of controversy “NYC Ghosts & Flowers”. They’re a band that confidently conjures up moments of flurried aggression alongside a unique brand of improvised majesty

Released in 1992 — the year after the year punk broke, you’ll recall — Dirty finds Sonic Youth accepting the lifetime achievement award from their grunge progeny and raising the stakes. While fans tend to overrate Dirty (for a certain demographic, this is as much a coming-of-age album as Are You Experienced?), the album has held up remarkably well, especially the deeper cuts which are so often overlooked in favor of showstoppers like the sexy “100%,” the declarative “Youth Against Fascism” (featuring Ian MacKaye in an extremely rare cameo role) and the irresistible “Sugar Kane.” Butch Vig’s clean production places the guitars center stage, but the rhythm section compensates by just pounding.

Kim’s vocals often steal the show, out-punking even Johnny Rotten on the airhead-baiting “Swimsuit Issue” and the snarling “Orange Rolls, Angel’s Spit,” the personification of big-sister cool on seductive album closer “Creme Brulee.” Dirty’s goofy vamps are frequently playful and rarely expansive, but even the simpler-sounding tracks are wonderfully deceptive. If on first listen a handful of these songs sound like they wouldn’t sound out of place on an Alice Cooper record, listen closer and you’ll notice a structural bed of wild, howling feedback beneath some of the album’s catchiest tunes.

Goo

‘Goo’ (1990)

For their sixth album (seventh, if you count the Ciccone Youth side project released a year earlier), Sonic Youth signed with a major label and actually ended up with a modern rock Top 10 hit. But they weren’t tamed by their new bosses. Instead, their new home opened them up to more focused songs and bigger, grander guitar workouts. A milestone record of the era, and an indirect door opener for Nirvana and other like-minded indie bands of the early ’90s.

Goo (originally titled Blowjob!) gave Sonic Youth a surprise hit with “Kool Thing,” a frenzied earworm of a tune about LL Cool J (inexplicably featuring an awkward cameo by a coerced-sounding Chuck D of Public Enemy). The album is perhaps the least art-damaged entry in the Sonic Youth catalog, and features some of the band’s most enTagsduring material. “Dirty Boots” is easily one of the greatest songs of the alternative rock era, perhaps only overshadowed on Goo by Lee’s masterful “Mote,” whose conflagrated denouement recalls early classics like “Expressway To Yr Skull” and “Hey Joni,” and fittingly closes out the first side of the album. Elsewhere, “My Friend Goo” successfully borrows The Replacements’ bored-as-fuck background vocal style from “I Don’t Know,” while the ‘noise metal’ break at the end of “Mildred Pierce” provides a most unexpected and jarring coda. The Raymond Pettibon cover art is no coincidence — Goo is Sonic Youth nodding to their punk roots.

The playing is also tighter that ever, and Kim begins to emerge as a truly great rock and roll singer, paving the way for gender-defying grunters like Royal Trux’s Jennifer Herrema. And if “Tunic,” a glum threnody for Karen Carpenter, comes off more roast than tribute, well, were you really expecting “Candle In The Wind?”

‘Sister’ (1987)

A run-up to Sonic Youth’s masterpiece ‘Daydream Nation,” just a year away, ‘Sister’ tests the ground of the band’s new alternative-pop direction, with genuine hooks cut into the flurry of guitars and distorted noise. An influential record on the upcoming decade’s army of flannel-wearing indie kids — maybe more so than the more defining, and defined, ‘Daydream Nation.’

Let’s get something straight. There is no album in the entire corpus of indie rock — not Loveless, not Surfer Rosa, not Psychocandy — that reaches the heights of invention, joy, and magic of Sonic Youth’s sublime fifth album. If your night out has ever been made by a floppy-haired stoner disemboweling a guitar; if you’ve ever had an out-of-body experience while hearing a record of disembodied vocal catatonia and libidinous murmurs; if you’ve ever gotten a contact high from a deliciously ‘off’ noise-rock tumult — then you can thank this album. The haunted reveries of Sister remain with you for years, even if you only hear them once. This isn’t a rock album — it’s mortar fire. It is the point at which Sonic Youth discovered a new and truly radicalized “psychedelic” music that owed nothing to Pet Sounds or Sgt Pepper’s, but to an amalgamation of record store arcana, suburban Gnosticism, and teenage kicks. Their peers may have been rocking, droning, and caterwauling, but Sister is the sonic manifestation of refracted light.

Daydream Nation (Remastered Original Album)

‘Daydream Nation’ (1988)

The epic double-album that helped shape a generation of guitar-wielding indie rockers, ‘Daydream Nation’ is a milestone record of the decade and genre. The opening “Teen Age Riot” sounds like a prophecy of rock ‘n’ roll to come, but the rest of the album soars along just as assuredly. And unlike their earlier work, the LP is filled with actual songs that build to mountain-scaling levels. When Sonic Youth made their next album two years later, they were on a major label and all ready to lead a new alternative nation.

Writing about Daydream Nation is sorta like writing about pizza. Almost everyone is familiar with it, everyone — save for a few loonies — agrees that it’s great, and everyone has their fussy preferences about it. The band’s first double album is a conceptually loose celebration/expose of the American badlands, as keen an examination of the concrete wilderness as ever constructed by a buncha guitar players. The album moves brilliantly, each song twisting into miniature vortexes, spiraling to exhaustion. As indebted to Amon Duul as Arto Lindsay, the album’s beauty sounds effortless, as if the band’s myriad public obsessions all converged and produced the album by divination. There is a piercing melancholy to many of the songs, not least “Teenage Riot” (for my money, still the band’s best song), despite reportedly being little more than a loving ode to Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis.

The double album ends, fittingly, with a trilogy of songs, a lofty concept whose irony was probably not lost on a band that was covering Crime’s “Hot Wire My Heart” on their previous album. Yet this trilogy is one of the few in the annals of rock and roll worth its weight in Thai stick, bearing none of the grandiose prog-rock pomposity one expects from a “suite” of songs. If anything, this third act (especially “Eliminator, Jr”) is as unfriendly as the album gets, recalling, if only for a couple of minutes, the earlier, fangier Sonic Youth of Confusion Is Sex.

“Daydream Nation”, the album that is often cited as the band’s greatest effort, was the first of theirs I heard. From the stoic beginnings of fan favourite “Teenage Riot” to the caustic climax of epic three-parter “The Wonder”, the album struck me in a way I wasn’t expecting. I relished in the abrasive noise break that bridges “Silver Rocket”, and was taken aback even further at the introduction of the rather sullen if strangely poignant “Providence”.

But as great an album it is, Daydream Nation barely reports on the band’s vastly alterable creative output. The Official Sonic Youth Reverb Shop on October 30th, where the noise rock pioneers will sell more than 200 pieces of gear and memorabilia from across the history of the band. you can head over to Sonic Youth’s Reverb LP shop to find hundreds of Sonic Youth’s exclusive test pressings, reissues, and rare records—including versions of Daydream Nation, Murray Street, Goo, and Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star—as well as additional pressings from Sonic Youth Recordings and Goofin’ Records. Items for sale October 30th will include more than 200 pieces of gear, as well as nearly 200 screen-printed show posters, rare poster-sized photographs, memorabilia, and personal relics. Head over to Reverb LP now to find Sonic Youth’s 300 exclusive test-pressings and other records, and sign up to be notified as soon as The Official Sonic Youth Reverb Shop goes live. Also, fans can check out nugs.net now for access to previously unreleased live audio and videos from Sonic Youth’s archives.

Whatever happens next, that ideal will surely be Sonic Youth’s legacy: an EVOLution of creative desires fuelled by the never-ending need to kick some serious six-string ass along the way.

Advertisements

Image result for sonic youth daydream nation

The Alternative-Rock band’s fifth album was recorded in New York and released by Enigma Records. It was their last recording before they signed to a major label and received huge praise from critics. Considered to be the pinnacle of the band’s career: it fulfilled the band’s fullbore aesthetic and indulged their variegated and broad emotional palette. Few albums of the 1980s were as spectacular, influential and profound. The song’s compositions were varied and textured whilst the lyrics switched between mature reflectiveness and emotionally-charged.  Several friends of the band, including Henry Rollins, had long praised the band’s long live improvisations and told the group that its records never captured them. With Moore on a writing spree, the album ultimately had to be expanded to a double album. Sonic Youth were, 

It’s radical, political edge stunned critics at the time. It is hard to say how important the album is  and how many bands were compelled to record music because of Daydream Nation – but Sonic Youth laid down an astonishing album. Many would have liked it stretched to a triple album but that might have been excessive. It only has twelve tracks but longer numbers The Sprawl and Total Trash both exceed seven minutes whilst the finale, Trilogy, is nearly fifteen minutes in length. An essential album for those who appreciate genius music – not just reserved for Sonic Youth fans.

Compiled here are 25 tracks, including their Evan Dando-worshipping satire “I Wish I Was Him,” the Thurston Moore produced demo, choice cuts from their Grand Royal-issued EP and LP, and covers of “Let’s Lynch The Landlord” and “Back In Your Life.” The entire sordid adolescent tale is covered in incredible detail inside the black and white 16 page zine. And finally, for the first time in the history of record pressing, and for no good reason at all, the cover for 10,000 Kids With Guitars doubles as a working chalkboard.

Noise Addict “10,000 Kids With Guitars” – double vinyl Record Store Day Exclusive – includes never before heard recordings produced by Sonic Youth members Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo .

“What does teen spirit smell like, anyway? It might smell something like Noise Addict. Like the real life stars of some sort of choose-your-own-adventure book about pursuing rock stardom, few bands ever led a more charmed existence, springing from the Sydney suburb of Bondi into seemingly overnight international fame as friends and collaborators of Sonic Youth, Fugazi, and the Beastie Boys. Through a combination of relentless drive, luck, and an admirable lack of self-doubt, Noise Addict spanned puberty to surpass the haters and join Radio Birdman and Nick Cave as a strange but permanent piece of Australian punk history. Cover art doubles as a working chalk board
http://www.secretlydistribution.com/resources/num207.pdf

Image of Thurston Moore - Rock N Roll Consciousness

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thurston Moore entered The Church studios in London to record new songs with producer Paul Epworth. Thurston, the founder of seminal US alternative rock experimentalists Sonic Youth and Paul, the celebrated producer and co-writer of Adele, The Pop Group, Florence & the Machine et al created a dynamic vibratory match (with the realization that they were both Leos, on the cusp of Cancer, born on 25 July.) The session was mixed by Randall Dunn (Marissa Nadler, Sunn 0))), Earth, Boris) at Avast! Studios in Seattle.

Thurston Moore Group had been touring since the critically acclaimed release The Best Day LP/CD (2014, Matador) that introduced the core members James Sedwards (guitar), My Bloody Valentine’s Deb Googe (bass) and Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley (drums). Rock n Roll Consciousness is Thurston’s focus on this group’s strength, beauty and promise, with an unleashing of James Sedwards’ brilliant guitar play, Deb Googe’s minimalist groove ethic and Steve Shelley’s in-the-pocket swing dynamism.

The songs Thurston introduce are expansive, anthemic and exploratory with lyrics, co-written with poet Radio Radieux, investigating and heralding the love between angels, goddess mysticism and a belief in healing through new birth. They range from the opener “Exalted”, an unfolding and emotional journey in homage to sacred energy and exaltation, to “Cusp” a springtime charging, propulsive piece with a feeling of Sonic Youth mixing in with My Bloody Valentine to “Turn On” a pop-sonic poem to holy love both intimate and kosmiche to the contemplative mystery of life-defining time travel in “Smoke of Dreams”. The record concludes with “Aphrodite”, a strange and heavy no wave rocker in salutation to the idol of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation.

Rock n Roll Consciousness is a new and exhilarating chapter for Thurston Moore, and promises to be a creative highpoint for anyone interested in his legacy of avant-garde music and writing, as strong a statement as anything he has recorded these last three decades – serious and precocious and strangely accessible.

Image of The Cosmic Dead - Psych Is Dead

Scotland’s favourite space-psych-rock-gods return with a new album ‘Psych Is Dead’ before heading out on a lengthy UK/European tour including appearances at all the key genre festivals such as Safe As Milk, Wrong Fest, Desert Fest, Raw Power Festival and Karma Fest.

Formed in 2010, The Cosmic Dead are a quartet from Glasgow, Scotland who share their music through good vibes and better vibrations. Known for their improv, chaos strewn, Buckfast smashed against the wall take on space music, they have roamed from Roadburn to Las Vegas, Dundee to Bangalore with each album offering a meditative window into a certain time and space.

‘Psych Is Dead’ is the sixth full length album from the band, the glowing embers of a a few days spent recording in a sweaty Sardinian kitchen overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Soon to be available on LP and CD via Riot Season Records, ‘Psych Is Dead’ is an aural exploration of their tumultuous universe.

Black honey somebody better

Limited Opaque Orange 7″ Vinyl. Like those have gone before it, Somebody Better is the next player in the terrific Black Honey single line-up. Following in the footsteps of its predecessors Corinne, All My Pride and the most recent Hello Today, once again the Brighton four-piece fronted by Izzy B. Phillips step up to the mark with a brilliantly bold statement of intent for 2017 – a festival- ready gleaming pop-rock meteor that’s headed straight for you. It is a mix of Eat to the Beat era Blondie and pop era Lush.

Lanegan

 

There’s a singer with a voice 50 fathoms deep and the consistency of vitrified teak, who has been known to go to extremes in search of a song. Across continents, over oceans, through multiple time zones. From West Hollywood to… Tunbridge Wells. A long way – but Mark Lanegan knows the directions.

Early in 2016, Mark was at home in Los Angeles, working on some ideas for what might turn into his next album. He wasn’t too thrilled by what he was coming up with. Then he got an email from a friend, an English musician named Rob Marshall, thanking Mark for contributing to a new project he was putting together, Humanist. The pair first met in 2008, when Marshall’s former band Exit Calm supported Soulsavers, who Mark was singing with at the time. Now Rob was offering to write Mark some music to return the favour.

“I was like, Hey man, I’m getting ready to make a record, if you’ve got anything?’” Mark recalls. “Three days later he sent me *10 things… !”

In the meantime, Mark had written Blue Blue Sea, a rippling mood piece that he thought might be a more fruitful direction for his new record, and had the idea for a song called First Day Of Winter that felt like an apt closer. “It’s almost always how my records start,” he explains. “I let the first couple of songs tell me what the next couple should sound like, and it’s really the same process when I’m writing words. Whatever my first couple of lines are tell me what the next couple should be. I’ve always built things like that, sort of like making a sculpture I guess. Start with the raw material and let that point me in the direction I want to go. So, once I was pointed in that direction, the music that came from other sources, from Rob, I just went for the ones that helped me build this narrative that I had started already.”

Within an hour, Mark had written words and vocal lines for two of the pieces Rob had cooked up at Mount Sion Studios in Kent and pinged through the virtual clouds to California. Rob’s music fitted perfectly with the direction Mark had been pondering: in essence, a more expansive progression from the moody Krautrock-influenced electronica textures of his two previous albums, Blues Funeral and Phantom Radio. Eventually, Rob Marshall would co-write six of the songs on the new Mark Lanegan Band album. “I was very thankful to become reacquainted with him,” Mark deadpans.

The remainder of the album was written, recorded and produced by Lanegan’s longtime musical amanuensis Alain Johannes at his 11 AD base in West Hollywood. Everything was done and dusted within a month, unusually fast by Lanegan’s recent standards. Both Blues Funeral and Phantom Radio unfurled at leisurely pace over several months. But this time Johannes had only a fixed window of opportunity due to his ongoing touring commitments as a member of P.J. Harvey’s band. But Mark was sufficiently happy with the material to move swiftly, a reflection of contentment with his abilities as a singer and writer, which have now produced a huge body of work spanning a period of more than 30 years: whether it be his own solo records, or collaborative recordings with others, or going back to his legendary first band, the Screaming Trees.

Lapd

His second self-titled album grew out of a period of great change for Pollie both personally and professionally. The L.A. musician ended one relationship and started another. He released a debut album in 2014 to critical claim and watched as the single She Came Through (Again) became a surprise hit – the kind of bittersweet pop song destined to anchor a multitude of lovelorn mixtapes. He signed to Anti-Records and worked on Los Angeles Police Department with Jonathan Rado (Foxygen, Whitney, Lemon Twigs) producing and Rob Schnapf (Beck, Elliott Smith, Foo Fighters) mixing. Los Angeles Police Department reveals an artist turning the personal into the universal and giving a bit of himself away in the process. “I’m a student of the album, so it was important to make this more than just a collection of the best songs I had written. It had to be a journey for me and for the listener.” The journey does not end with the album, but will continue throughout his next album and his next and his next. “My music is an extension of myself and it’s definitely something that I’m going to grow with.”

Mellencampsadclowns

Heartland rocker John Mellencamp releases his 23rd full-length album, Sad Clowns and Hillbillies featuring Carlene Carter, the daughter of June Carter Cash and stepdaughter of Johnny Cash, on Island Records. Sad Clowns and Hillbillies returns Mellencamp to the musical eclecticism that is, itself, a reflection of his wide-ranging musings on life. John Mellencamp is an authentic voice of American music and master storyteller with a commitment to creating traditional rock and roll, bittersweet songs of happiness and melancholia, and fervent political dissent. His passions and experiences resonate beautifully in this showcase of his music. Sad Clowns and Hillbillies is self produced by John Mellencamp.

A1504880604 16

Pinegrove’s Everything So Far is exactly what its title suggests – an anthology of all of Pinegrove’s output up to the point of their breakout Run For Cover Records full-length, Cardinal. The collection encapsulates their debut LP Meridian, a number of EPs and even some singles like the captivating track Angelina and Cardinal favourite New Friends. Originally available only on cassette with a shorter tracklist. Listening to Everything So Far is a rewarding experience for new and old fans, as the time capsule of a tracklist shows Pinegrove developing a signature sound, maturing and learning with each song.

2LP – First time on vinyl and pressed as a double album. The vinyl version also includes a brand-new 16 page booklet featuring lyrics and photos documenting the band’s earliest moments.

Hmltd to the door aw

HMLTD release their second single To The Door backed up by the equally stunning B-side Music!. The single is available as a limited 7” on Ouroboros Ltd. The six-piece, whose origins lie somewhere between the UK, Greece and France, have come up as one of the most confounding acts to appear in London in recent memory, with equally galvanizing music and visuals, stories of chaotic and incendiary live shows to packs of mosh-pitting followers and compatriots, and art installations where the lines between performers and audience are ever-blurred. Continuing their collaboration with director Jenkin Van Zyl, To The Door is an audio-visual bucking bronco ride of fantasy and myth, sci-fi and the terrestrial, savagery and élan, the unattainable and the tactile, coming together for a mesmerising assault on the senses. It’s another opportunity to join HMLTD’s uncompromising, all-in, fiercely adventurous and wholly irresistible world.

B79fd983 c31c 4076 845f aa0fc8dc3a35

274 Copies only limited-edition red vinyl 7″ single of Lorelle Meets The Obsolete’s ace The Sound Of All Things, taken from last year’s acclaimed fourth album, Balance. It’s the long song where lapping, ambient beauty gives way to a stormy sea of psych-rock, like Moon Duo tripping out with The Orb. According to the band, it’s all inspired by John Cage and the ocean near their home in Ensenada, Baja California. It comes backed with a brand new remix by the wonderful Russian band Gnoomes, who have turned it into an electro-psych monster.

Wilsen i go missing in my sleep album cover artwork hires 600x600

First appearing on the scene with the self-released Sirens double-EP (2013) and Magnolia EP (2014). Tours with Daughter, Matthew E. White, San Fermin and shows with London Grammar soon followed. Tamsin has also lent her vocals to Honne’s Coastal Love and a vocal line of hers is used in a SBTRKT song. I Go Missing In My Sleep is Wilsen’s debut album and was recorded with producer Ben Baptie in upstate New York and atThe Farm Studio outside of Philadelphia. Many of the songs were composed in a tiny Brooklyn apartmentin the fleeting pre-dawn moments when New York City is mostly still. These beautifully crafted original pieces capture an almost impossible sense of delicate quietness, and when it came time to record them with the band – Drew Arndt on bass and Johnny Simon on guitar – they unfurled at a nexus of hushed and heart-racing, intimate folk paired with muscular yet restrained sonic experimentation. It evokes the mood of Nick Drake and epic soundscapes in the vein of Arcade Fire.

Bert Jansch - Living In The Shadows Part 2: On The Edge Of A Dream

Following on from Earth’s definitive collection of Jansch’s 1990s works ‘Living In The Shadows Part 2: On The Edge Of A Dream’ picks up from where it left off, bringing together Bert Jansch’s final recordings, made between 2000 and 2006. This remarkable anthology documents some of Jansch’s finest work, and a man at the top of his game, some forty years(!) after his first release. From the brooding resonance of Crimson Moon (where Jansch is joined by Johnny Marr, Bernard Butler and Johnny “Guitar” Hodge, as well as son Adam Jansch and Bert’s wife Loren Jansch) to the intimacy of Edge Of A Dream (Bernard Butler, Hope Sandoval, Dave Swarbrick, Ralph McTell, Johnny “Guitar” Hodge, Paul Wassif, Adam Jansch and Loren Jansch) to the wondrous new folk / trad folk harmony of Black Swan (Beth Orton, Devendra Banhart, Kevin Barker, Helena Espvall, Paul Wassif), these seemingly very different albums all speak of one thing: Bert’s natural talent for turning out extraordinary music, regardless of genre. Disc four, The Setting Of The Sun, takes in more demos and unreleased material, with guest appearances from Gordon Giltrap and Johnny Marr adding additional delight for fans old and new. These peeks into Jansch’s recording process are nothing if not fascinating, with his home studio lending itself perfectly to any recording fancy he might arrive at. Like Part 1, this deluxe case-bound set exhibits the sublime attention to detail that has become Earth Recordings’ calling card. Liner notes come courtesy of colleague Bernard Butler and Bert’s son Adam, while a comprehensive listening guide (by esteemed journalist, Dave Henderson) is also included.

 

The Former Sonic Youth frontman Thurston Moore returns later this month with a new album “Rock N Roll Consciousness” , his first new album in two years, which was recorded with his current touring band that includes former Sonic Youth compatriot Steve Shelley on drums and My Bloody Valentine’s Deb Googe on bass.

The five-song album, due out April 28th, is produced by Paul Epworth (The Pop Group, Adele), and also features James Seawards on additional guitar. And the lyrics to three of the five songs are either written or co-written by poet Radio Radieux.

Check out the record’s first single, “Smoke of Dreams.”

Moore and Co. also have announced a nine-date North American tour in May to support the record.

Rock n Roll Consciousness is released on 28th April

Rock N Roll Consciousness

“Rock n Roll Consciousness”, the new album by Thurston Moore, is set for release on April 28th on Caroline International. The album was recorded with producer Paul Epworth (Adele, The Pop Group) at The Church studios in Crouch End, London and mixed by Randall Dunn (Marissa Nadler, Earth) at Avast! in Seattle, Washington.

The songs Thurston wrote for Rock n Roll Consciousness were brought to life and galvanized by the tight bond of friendship amongst the musicians, a line-up with which he’s been working since 2014: Deb Googe (of My Bloody Valentine, Snowpony) bass, James Sedwards (Nøught, Chrome Hoof) guitar and Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth, Crucifucks) drums. The recording highlights the group’s instrumental strength and beauty following two solid years of touring 2015’s critically acclaimed The Best Day album.

Moore shares the first single off the record, titled “Smoke of Dreams” . A song that focuses on the contemplative mystery of life-defining time travel which sees Thurston recalling a New York City where spirits informed artists seeking poems of beatitude and sonic prayers of joy and wild wonder.

Rock n Roll Consciousness is released on 28th April Click here for all retail options:

chelseaskiss

As usual, things are afoot in the post-Sonic Youth universe. Thurston Moore is releasing a cassingle to support the efforts to free the currently imprisoned U.S. Army private Chelsea Manning (who is facing a long imprisonment after sharing information on WikiLeaks). He’s shared the a-side of the cassingle, “Chelsea’s Kiss,” which starts out lovely and then gets sludgy and furious. You can listen to it below.
Drummer Ryan Sawyer join My Bloody Valentine bassist Deb Googe and Nought guitarist James Sedwards both of whom reportedly appear on Moore’s upcoming Rock N Roll Consciousness LP—for a hard-hitting eight minutes of dissonant guitar interplay that brings to mind Sonic Youth’s exploratory 1998 album A Thousand Leaves. If lyrics about “the queen, king, first transgender ruler” don’t quite have the simplicity of his earlier declaration about Professor Hill, well, Moore can’t call out “a fascist twerp” on every song.

Thurston Moore

No word on a new Thurston Moore album just yet, but the former Sonic Youth member recently updated his webpage with a new single called “Cease Fire” and added several tour dates. “Cease Fire” is classic sounding Thurston Moore with a lengthy noise jam in the middle that should please anyone who’s missing Sonic Youth. Thurston released the song with this statement:

Guns are designed to kill and we, as non-violent human beings, are against the killing of any person or animal. The song is also about the power of love, in all its freedom of choice. A power that no gun can extinguish as love will rule always. Melt down your guns and kiss your neighbor.

“Cease Fire” is up for a free download at Thurston’s own webpage.

His upcoming tour dates include a small amount of UK dates but stay tuned maybe for more. His band for the tour will be his Sonic Youth bandmate Steve Shelley, My Bloody Valentine’s Deb Googe, and James Sedwards. All dates are listed below.

Thurston’s last single was the Chelsea Manning benefit single “Chelsea’s Kiss” that he dropped a few months ago. Thurston and Iggy Pop are subject of the new documentary “I’ve Nothing But My Name”, which recently screened in New York .

girlinaband120215w

Not just about a girl in a band…

There is plenty of talk about music in Kim Gordon‘s memoir, but its animating force is disappointment. The book opens with Sonic Youth’s final performance; in November 2011 at the SWU Music & Arts Festival in São Paulo, Brazil. By then, Gordon and her husband and band mate Thurston Moore are estranged after 30 years together; he has been unfaithful and she reflects on “a life’s work now inextricable from heartbreak”. Indeed, much of Girl As A Band is overshadowed by her relationship with Moore. But curiously, the book is often at its most interesting when discussing neither music nor Moore.

In her 1979 collection of essays, The White Album, Joan Didion noted, “A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his image.” Didion was the sharp-eyed observer of cultural values and experiences in California during the 1960s and Seventies; a period, incidentally, which Kim Gordon knows very well.

Didion is clearly an influence on Gordon – like Didion, Gordon’s writing is precise, her tone unsentimental, and her eye for detail sharp. Although born in Rochester, New York, Gordon moved to California when she was five years old when her father accepted a professorship at UCLA. This was 1958, and much of the early part of her excellent memoir subsequently finds Gordon staking out California, much as Didion had done before her. “LA in the late Sixties had a desolation about it, a disquiet,” she writes. “More than anything, that had to do with a feeling, one that you still find in parts of the San Fernando Valley. There was a sense of apocalyptic expanse, of sidewalks and houses centipeding over mountains and going on forever, combined with a shrugging kind of anchorlessness. Growing up I was always aware of LA’s diffuseness, its lack of an attachment to anything other than its own good reflection in the mirror.”

In some ways, Girl In A Band is a self-deprecating title – evidently, Gordon is much more than that – but it is also an extremely limiting one. Any one expecting this to be a definitive biography of Sonic Youth, for instance, will be disappointed. Inevitably, Sonic Youth play a critical part in this book; but this is much more than just an account of life in a band. In fact, the strongest parts of Girl In A Band are Gordon’s observations of California during the dissonance of the Sixties. “Back then, there were lots of eccentric bearded guys dressed in white roaming round LA,” she notes; indeed, her brother, Keller, is invited up to “the ranch” by Manson acolyte Bobby Beausoleil, while one of Keller’s ex girlfriends is abducted and later found stabbed to death.

Although Gordon’s parents were both liberal intellectuals – jazz, “Venice beatnik guys” and documentary filmmakers figure highly in the early chapters -– the dominant figure during her childhood was Keller, a “sadistic, arrogant” figure who is later diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Gradually, Gordon’s artistic temperament surfaces; she enrolls at Santa Monica College in 1972 and moves to Venice where her landlord is a former CSNY roadie. She becomes friendly with Bruce Berry, a relative of Jan Berry from Jan and Dean, and she finds herself in “Jan’s house high in the hills, a cheesy contemporary glass box on a tacky hilltop in a would-be neighbourhood, surrounded by nothing. Cocaine was prevalent, heroin more under-the-table, but I wasn’t into that stuff. I do remember being there one morning at around 8am watching a topless girl float through the living room playing a violin.”

If the early part of Girl In A Band is concerned with depicting California’s post-60s malady, the book is equally strong in capturing downtown Manhattan in the 1980s, where Gordon moves to pursue a career in art. “In 1980 New York was near bankruptcy, with garbage strikes every month, it seemed, and a crumbling, weedy infrastructure. These days, it gleams and towers in ways most people I know hate and can’t understand.” She documents the art scene on the Lower East Side with a kind of casual aloofness; Basquiat, Warhol, Jeff Koons all drift through. It is here, of course, that she finally meets Thurston Moore, and Sonic Youth come together.

The band stuff is all fillet, no fat. Gordon zones in on a specific memories for each album. About Sister, for instance, she explains that “Pacific Coast Highway” was “a direct pull from the fears of my teenage years when I was focused on the lore surrounding Charles Manson”. Such insights are accompanied by colourful vignettes – cooking dinner for Neil Young while he tunes the sound of a cow mooing for his electric train set. She writes eloquently about Kurt Cobain; evidently a loss she still feels to this day. Additionally, the cast list includes Danny Elfman, Larry Gagosian, Gerhard Richter, Courtney Love, Marc Jacobs, Sofia Coppola, Tony Oursler and Julie Cafritz (a staunch friend in troubled times). The final section takes place in Northampton, Massachusetts where the density of alt-rock royalty – Gordon and Moore, J Mascis and his wife, Cafritz and her husband – assumes an unintentionally amusing quality, like a real life Stellar Street. In this bohemian enclave, Gordon and Moore raise their daughter, Coco: but “I’ve never had any domestic talents or hobbies,” admits Gordon. They struggle to adapt, despite the good neighbours.

Finally, Gordon returns to California, to work on art projects. “The older I get, the smaller the world seems,” she muses. She works on an exhibition in the basement of a house in Lauren Canyon, close to Mulholland Drive. She writes about hearing “fire engines, helicopters, and traffic zooming up and down the canyon” before linking it back to “the favoured route of the Manson family for crosstown travel and creepy crawling exploits from their place near Calabasas to Hollywood.” In truth, however far Kim Gordon has come – figuratively, creatively, literally – it is hard to completely shake of the past.

Kim Gordon, Art Record Covers, Taschen, 2017

Kim Gordon, bassist, guitarist, vocalist and founding member of Sonic Youth until 2011, has also been a visual artist since the late 1970s. This painting featured on the sleeve of soon-to-be ex-husband Thurston Moore’s EP Flipped Out Bride (2006). The pair started Sonic Youth together, though their split would eventually lead to its disbandment. Her portraits of women have also featured on Sonic Youth’s single “Bull In The Heather” (1994) and Free Kitten’s Sentimental Education (1997). Gordon’s style is expressionist, using text or figures as form. Gordon also created a text-based painting for artist Richard Prince’s single “Loud Song” (2016), returning a favour for his own cover for Sonic Youth.

Kol walls covertype

Kings Of Leon  – Walls

Multi-platinum selling rock band Kings of Leon return with their hugely anticipated seventh studio album Walls. The Grammy Award winning group decided to return to their recording roots in Los Angeles and worked with famed producer Markus Dravs (Arcade Fire, Coldplay, Florence and the Machine). Lyrically, the album touches on band members’ personal stories.

Artworks 000094610001 ghw7v2 t500x500

Public Access TV –  Rebounder EP

The debut four track EP from New York’s most hyped and most loved band Public Access TV. Limited to just 500 copies and exclusive from Rough Trade Shops. Stand out track is ‘Middle Child’ which opens with a drum beat which cheekily apes The Stone Roses’ ‘I Am The Resurrection’ before settling in a noisy garage punk groove with a pop edge. In under three minutes Public Access TV prove they are a band waiting to cross into the mainstream.

Crocodiles  –  Dreamless

Moving both geographically (from San Diego to Mexico City in the case of vocalist Brandon Welchez) and stylistically (eschewing the more post-punk tinged origins of yore for a broader sweep of sound) the electronically-augmented sound of this sixth album may still be rooted in the ’80s, but it’s more akin to New Order in its melancholia and bold primary colours. Nonetheless he glam-tinged exuberance of this duo may still be present even if the Bunnymen-esque raincoat-brigade guitars aren’t. Ironically enough given it was an album inspired by insomnia, ‘Dreamless’ sounds for all the world like a bold new dawn for the band.

106508

Jagwar Ma –  Every Now and Then

Since the release of 2013’s ‘Howlin’ Jagwar Ma have played sold out shows across the world and supported the likes of Tame Impala, The xx and Foals, filling festival tents and clubs alike with their explosive, hypnotic live performances, not to mention legendary DJ sets – most recently illustrated through their televised Park Stage performance at Glastonbury, and a raucous closing DJ set at the Crows Nest the same weekend. Now the song-writing duo of multi-instrumentalist and producer Jono Ma, singer and guitarist Gabriel Winterfield return with their second album ‘Every Now and Then’. The new record returns to the melody soaked nods to club culture and instantaneous vocal hooks they’ve become well known for, but has also seen them employ their passion for the Beastie Boys, citing this eclectic album as their ‘Paul’s Boutique’. Overall this stunning record encapsulates the band at their most entrancing and anthemic – a wig out of oscillating acid bassline, ricocheting dub-fused guitars and heady pop psychedelia bathed in strobe-lit sonics. It was self-produced and recorded in the United Kingdom, Australia and France, then tweaked and mixed with the assistance of some of their brightest contemporaries, James Ford (Florence and The Machine, Arctic Monkeys), Blue May (Kwes, Kindness), Ewan Pearson (LCD Soundsystem, Chemical Brothers) and David Wrench (Caribou, FKA Twigs, Glass Animals).

Big Star –  Complete Third

Omnivore does an in-depth vault dive into the creation of Big Star’s Third for a new 3-CD box set.  Complete Third includes every demo, rough mix, outtake, alternate take and final master from the Third sessions known to exist. The 69 tracks on this set represent the culmination of a decade-long search to assemble all extant recordings for the album originally released in 1978.  Some alternates and demos have appeared on various compilations over the years, but this first-of-its-kind collection presents every track in context – including 29 never-before-released tracks captured by producer Jim Dickinson and engineer John Fry.

.100000x100000 999

The Growlers – City Club

The Growlers are an American band formed in Southern California who’s sound has been described as a trademark style of music, effortlessly managing to combine eclectic elements of country, lo-fi punk, surf/psych/garage rock, Tex-Mex, and slacker/stoner/skate culture into something that is uniquely their own. Known for their relentless touring schedule and DIY work ethic, the band is one of the most exciting independent success stories of recent years. The band has toured with The Black Keyes, Dr. Dogg, Devendra Banhart, and Jonathan Richman, among others. The album is produced by Julian Casablancas the first he has produced).

100000x100000 999

Gurr  –  In My Head

When two best friends start a band, songs get filled with inside jokes. In My Head takes the listener on a journey of Andreya Casablanca and Laura Lee’s friendship, their life, and a step further into the world of GURR. Having met in an American Studies class in Berlin, and after spending time in the US together, the US West coast sound was an obvious influence on their music, but Andreya and Laura draw from a wide set of pop culture references and personal experiences for their debut album. First Wave Gurrlcore they call their own genre, always with a slight and acknowledging nod to riot girl culture and yet stressing that they want to invent their own style – they pair straightforward garage rock tunes with more psychedelic and wave elements on their debut album. “We didn’t start making music because of Kathleen Hanna,” explains singer Andreya Casablanca. “Musically we were more influenced by bands like Gun Club, Echo & the Bunnymen, the B52s or classics like the Ramones and Beatles.”

100000x100000 999

La Femme – Mystere

Direct from the Parisian overground, French pop connoisseurs La Femme will release their second album Mystère this week. La Femme have made a huge mark on modern Paris’s cultural landscape, by engraining in their music the two sides of the city : the glamour and the grit. Returning with a more psychedelic sound and numerous female guest vocalists that slice through the starkest of electro beats, La Femme celebrates their wonderful city and tackles the enigmatic questioning of falling in and out of love. Mystère is indeed a compendium of short stories describing loves and losses and each song breaks down language barriers through an inventive and astute knack for melody. The band’s chic retro-futurist surf-pop sound possesses the same dose of glamorous punk stomp as before, but this time around it’s layered with an elegant fusion of influences from Ennio Morricone, Marie Et Les Garcons’s disco-rock touch and the lysergic romanticism of The Velvet Underground. Through increased use of strings and further exploration of sound, Mystère also incorporates the band’s new love of oriental sounds, Turkish disco, Tuareg blues, medieval psychedelia to mainstays Brian Eno and Pink Floyd.

106891

Las Kellies  –  Friends And Lovers

Following the release of ‘Total Exposure’ the fiery Argentinian Riot grrl group Las Kellies return with new album ‘Friends & Lovers’. Inflected new wave post-punk blends garage-psych with infectiously deft dance beats and melodic pop. ‘Friends & Lovers’ fuzzed-up gems sees them move away from the heavier dub sounds of their last record instead sinking their teeth into a groove like Thee Oh Sees with the spirit of ESG and Delta 5. Rupturing with dance floor classics like ‘Sugar Beat’ and ‘I Don’t Care’, they effortlessly move into sun-soaked psych-pop tunes (‘Summer Breeze’, ‘Sun Goes Down’) with slow grooving honeyed tones, shimmering guitars and propulsive percussion. Produced by Iván Diaz Mathé (credits include Lee “Scratch” Perry & Mad Professor), who’s worked on their previous records.

106892

Josefin Ohrn + The Liberation –  Mirage

Having already been nominated for a Swedish Grammy with their debut EP, Diamond Waves, their full-length 2015 debut on Rocket Recordings, Horse Dance, marked out a territory in which beguiling repetition could sashay with sweet pop suss, melodic flourishes with experimental intensity, and it was summarily rapturously received on arrival, making new fans and earning them appearances at Roskilde Festival and Eindhoven Psych Lab. Their second effort Mirage, which follows a mere year after its predecessor, sees the band sculpting sprawling, hypnotic jams into elegant nocturnal serenades. “We agree on not remembering very much about how these tracks came about, that all of them were written on the road and that most of them came fully formed” note the band. “Most were really long to begin with, but we found it relieving to break away a bit from the mandatory psych jams a little bit. We also just realised that none of them were written in daylight, which might be why memory is so elusive.” Indeed, this hypnagogic approach seems to fit well with the primary inspiration for the five-piece, which centred on ‘the state where dreams, visions and the present are entwined’ .Mirage sees the band taking a chic tradition of avant-pop that extends all the way from Serge Gainsbourg and Françoise Hardy to Broadcast and Saint Etienne, and warping it mercilessly to their own darker ends. Whilst the brooding yet sultry ‘Sister Green Eyes’ is no less than a sharp slice of velveteen motorik-pop and ‘Looking For You’ reinvents three-chord garage-rock attack with mighty finesse, The Liberation are just as comfortable dealing out the heavy-lidded and electronically-driven ‘In Madrid’ or the dive in the hallucinatory deep end of ‘Circular Motion’, on which they’re aided and abetted by Lay Llamas’ Nicola Guinta. The seductive splendour of these ten songs åmake manifest a parallel world of disorientation and deliverance in which one would be a fool not to want to languish adrift . Fresh excitement for the band lies in wait, courtesy of a UK tour with Goat and an appearance at Liverpool International Festival Of Psychedelia. Limited holographic mirrorboard sleeves.

Screen shot 2016 09 15 at 15.02.31

Thurston Moore  -Chelsea’s Kiss

Cassette Store Day 2016 Release. 2 Tracks / 16 Minutes. Double sided printed extended j card.
Edition of 1000. Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore and Brooklyn-based drummer Ryan Sawyer along with UK-based members of Thurston Moore Group: bass player Deb Googe (also of My Bloody Valentine) and guitarist James Sedwards (also of Nøught) met up in the studio to record these songs offered here to support the campaign to Free Chelsea Manning. Partial proceeds of the sales of this cassette will support the Chelsea Manning Support Network (chelseamanning.org), and will be earmarked for the defence of Army Pvt. Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning. Former Private Manning was sentenced to thirty years in military prison for sharing the video of a US helicopter attack that killed a dozen Iraqis, exposing US State Dept. cables, the “Iraq War Logs”, and the “Afghan War Diaries” with the WikiLeaks website.

105948

Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker – Overnight

British Folk duo Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker have risen to star status lately on the English acoustic scene, earning last year’s Best Duo award from the BBC Folk Awards and across-the- board praise for two self-released albums, most recently ‘Nothing Can Bring Back The Hour’, with its lush single ‘Silverline’. While The Guardian anointed them “chamber folk” (they certainly cut their teeth in that thriving part of the UK music scene), Clarke is an unusually compelling singer, sharing more in common with Sandy Denny, Gillian Welch, or even Nina Nastasia and Laura Marling, than your usual staid folk artist. Walker is a prodigiously talented guitarist and arranger and the two of them are engaging and often funny in a live setting where, in addition to their own songs, they choose covers brilliantly, from Denny, to Jackson C Frank, to Nina Simone, to death-obsessed traditional ballads. Clarke and Walker Rough Trade debut album brings bigger, more modern arrangements and production to their beautifully-wrought songs and Clarke’s tremendous voice.