Saturday, January 17, 2009

Talking Sonic Youth

Let me further shorten a quote featured on ShortFormBlog from the very quotable Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth. Sonic Youth have been trailblazers for their nearly three decade career, first being one of the major underground acts paving a circuit for weird rock in the '80s. By the late '80s, they were one of the first to jump ship to a major, Geffen, where they recorded through the '90s and got a contract for Nirvana, who did quite well until an incident with their leadman curtailed their output. Anyway, SY is going indie again with Matador, and Thurston claims he's thrilled to be with "a label that loves songs." This strikes me as strange. Isn't it the major labels that love "songs," or singles at least, and indie labels that have a greater tolerance for "noisy, meandering, esoteric jams with fucked up guitars wailing throughout in the style of much of Sonic Youth's output." A few years ago, I listed SY's Rather Ripped as one of my top ten albums of the year, and part of what made that album so irresistable to me was that Sonic Youth, for the most part, limited their structures and excursions to proper rock "songs," so maybe that's the direction they're headed, and maybe we can look forward to a new Daydream Nation. My co-editor at SevenCities Sound is way more immersed in Sonic Youth than I am, and has spent several years on the forums. Apparently, a large segment of their fanboys will turn on you and curse your mother if they find out you like "the song oriented" Sonic Youth. So if the Matador-era Sonic Youth is a euphoric parade of song cycles, and if that bothers you, just set your iPod to play the album version of "The Crystal Sea", "Expressway To Yr Skull", and all of the SY freakouts on shuffle and shower for half a day while you've left a broken guitar jerry-rigged with a theramin constructed of food leaning against a damaged amplifier in the other room. Sonic Youth loves songs now.

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