Jukeboxparables

Review: Sonic Youth – Daydream Nation

Posted in Music, Review by jukeboxparables on December 1, 2009

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Ever since I decided I’d start reviewing music on this blog, Daydream Nation was in the back of my mind. Why? Simply because the mere prospect of trying to put this album into words is a salivating challenge. I’ve long thought that words are inadequate to describe music, which seems like an obvious thing to say. But not many albums out there truly convey the shortcomings of literary prose more;so than Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation.

What is Indie?, What is New-wave?, What is No-wave? And what about that much used Umbrella term to seemingly describe everything since the 1980’s –Alternative? Most people you speak to would attribute different meanings (or at least bands) to those categories, some of which you and I would vehemently disagree with. You don’t really have to have a debate with them about it because It’s all summed up by one band on one album.

In 1988, Sonic Youth released their fifth studio album; Daydream Nation. In retrospect it’s been given shiny reviews and has a long list of accolades appearing on many ‘must have’ and ‘best of’ lists over the decades. The album was not an immediate success however as their label at the time went bust and the album was out of print for some time.

What’s going to make describing this album well so darn hard is that I feel an almost nostalgic need to delve into the history of the band, the ‘scene’ and happenings surrounding the band not only in 1988 but from their inception, if anything to highlight their growth from their self titled debut EP in 1982. But I’m going to put the burden on me; I’ll try and review it without going into all that.

But what I will delve into briefly is references; Daydream Nation connects together various themes from an expansive artistic world (the band’s various influences) weaving them into a complex magic-eye decorated woolen sweater. When you let your ears blur ever so slightly; things begin to jump out at you.

“Teenage Riot” is the opening track, it was also the bands first single off the album. It’s allegedly about an alternate dream-world where the lead singer of Dinosaur Jr; J Mascis is President. It goes on to give a nod to The Stooges track “We will fall”. It kicks off with this slow, clean slightly haunting yet completely disarming guitar riff with lyrics being delivered by bassist Kim Gordon in a spoken word stream of consciousness style. And then suddenly it picks up as if a strong gust of wind has filled the sails and the boat is on it’s way.

Everybodys talking bout the stormy weather, And whats a man to do but work out whether its true?
Looking for a man with a focus and a temper, Who can open up a map and see between one and two

Third track “The Sprawl” has particular influence alluding to influential author William Gibson’s SCI-FI Trilogy (the trilogy features famed book Necromancer) Amongst other things Gibson wrote the short-story Johnny Mnemonic (later adapted to film) The 3rd book from the trilogy ‘Sprawl’ is titled ‘Cyberspace’ Gibson coined the term and the resounding theme is one of a world in the near future where dark corporations rule and technology via AI becomes something sinister.

By the time you reach fourth track “‘Cross The Breeze” you start to feel a shift in your mood, your overcome by this kind of up-beat numbness; It’s a combination of the previous tracks working on your psyche and the intro guitar picking of this one. It’s an urgency to do something profound, but alas your caught in a siren song of sorts. It’s all akin to something like being in a mosh pit, staggeringly drunk, falling over and just not bothering to get up again, watching yourself get trampled in slow motion; you’ve ceased to care. The Intro’s repeated heavy 8-chord attenuation coming like blows to the head. Then it all ‘seems’ to clear up and all you hear is Kim Gordon incessantly repeating “I Wanna know…” That memorable 8-chord repeating thud comes back towards the end and leads into a sweet clean outro only outdone by track “The Sprawl” before it which can’t be described without going into passe’ metaphors about use of illicit substances. It’s really …that good.

Track five “Eric’s trip” is a nice break from the previous two songs (all 15minutes of them.. almost) in that its short and to the point, leaving your head time to recover; the ending line being one of note. It’s hooks are out-done by the following track however. The 7minute:33sec “Total Trash” Sonic Youth don’t let up for long. This isn’t a pop album, use your head. Concentrate.

If anything though. By the time you’ve reached the end of the eighth track “Providence” you either begin to see the ultimate brilliance of this album or you’ve been lost in it all and you see its downfall, more on that later. On the track in question, Mike Watt; Iconic bassist of the mid 1980’s band Minutemen (amongst various other projects) is heard calling Thurston Moore and leaving a late night phone Message. This message is blended into the track’s eerie echo piano intro and layered with what is apparently the impromptu recording of one of the bands amps in melt down amongst what sounds like recorded wind distortion/interference. The amp’s valves have given all they can and will never make music again. It’s actually my favourite track on the album.

[Mike Watt]
“Thurston! Watt! Thurston! I think it’s ten thirty, we’re calling
From Providence, Rhode Island. Did you find your shit? You gotta
Watch the motin’ Thurston, your fuckin’ memory just goes out tha window.
We couldn’t find it in the van at all, we wonderin’ if you looked in
That trash can. When we threw out that trash, man, was the bag in
Your hand, did you dump it? Call later. Bye.”

I did say the intro piano sounded eerie but that’s not quite right. The track captures a desperate sort of sentimentality. It’s at this point you realise your listening to the avant-garde. And now to that downfall I was mentioning earlier. It’s more of a paradox than anything else. Daydream Nation, or any other brilliant album that pushes the boundaries in such a way can never really be given a 10/10. It’s completely inaccessible to the average-joe music listener. The musician in me say’s who gives a damn, such people don’t deserve to listen to this because they won’t appreciate it. I think Art should be hung on a wall for all to see sure, but the question remains can a piece of art with references and themes so deep really be as appreciated and engaging as say; the traditional pretty picture? It all depends on the listener of course.

Rating: 9.2/10

Tracklist:

1. “Teen Age Riot” – 6:59
2. “Silver Rocket” – 3:48
3. “The Sprawl” – 7:42
4. “Cross The Breeze” – 7:01
5. “Eric’s Trip” – 3:49
6. “Total Trash” – 7:33
7. “Hey Joni” – 4:24
8. “Providence” – 2:42
9. “Candle” – 4:59
10. “Rain King” – 4:39
11. “Kissability” – 3:09
12. “Trilogy (The Wonder – Hyperstation – Eliminator Jr.)” – 14:04

Sonic Youth
Daydream Nation
Released: 1988
Label: Enigma

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Triple J – Hottest 100 of All Time!

Posted in Music, Random by jukeboxparables on June 14, 2009

Triple J (JJJ) Also known as Australia’s national broadcaster are holding their hottest 100 of all time music poll again. For either the fourth or fifth time depending on how you look at it. Basically every year since 1989 the station has run an end of year “What is the best song of all time poll” In where bands/songs from any era could be chosen. This ran from 1989 to 1991. Joy Division came in at #1 in ’89 and ’90 with “Love Will Tear Us Apart” and Nirvana – “Smells Like Teen Spirit” got #1 in 1991 (Joy Division came in at #2)

In 1993 after a year off the format was changed to a year-in-review hottest 100 in-where people could vote for what they perceived as the best songs of the previous year (singles released in that year)

In 1998 as an almost 10-year Anniversary the ‘all time’ poll happened again. Nirvana – “Smells like Teen Spirit” got #1 whilst Hunters & Collectors – “Throw Your Arms Around Me” was #2.

Check out all the stats here

Anyway, besides what you may think about this poll; It is the Biggest public music poll on the planet (by votes counted) So I don’t see it as a bad thing at all, besides what the whingers out there say.

And It’s being run again, 10years since the last one!

Sure it is hard to vote; How do you vote for songs? By what you think is technically a better song? Or do you just go by what you love the most? It get’s yet more complicated when you start thinking about other people and how they’ll vote. For example; What’s the point of me voting for “INSERT_OBSCURE_SONG” because no one else is sure as hell not going to vote for it. So my vote won’t even show in the 100, I might as well vote my favourite bands hit single right? Well that’s how the line of thought goes I think.

Anyway because I’m usually all over the place musically I’ve decided not to vote in a certain way ie “only the best technical songs” rather I’m going to mix and match and here’s the way my vote is going:

*Note; You get to vote for 10songs in no order*. Get voting here; It’s open to everyone. Yes I’ve added links for viewing pleasure.

#The Beatles – Twist & Shout
#The Temptations – My Girl
#Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart
#David Bowie – Life On Mars?
#Ramones – Blitzkrieg Bop
#Nirvana – Drain You
#Radiohead – Karma Police
#The Smiths – This Charming Man
#At The Drive-In – 198d
#Sonic Youth – Teenage Riot

Yes, Yes It’s oh so hard sometimes. Choosing Nirvana, The Ramones and Sonic Youth’s “best” song was particularly the hardest… I’ve gone with the ‘popular’ Ramones choice likewise Sonic Youth but I’ve chosen Drain You over Teen Spirit… (and a sea of others) So darn hard to decide! :s

Bands just outside the Top10 for me: The Clash, Cap’n Jazz, Gang of Four, Blur, Iggy Pop, Muse, Bloc Party. Oh what a travesty to leave them out!

Voting closes Sunday 28th June 2009 – midnight AEST.

Sonic Youth – Sacred Trickster, Antenna. Live on Jools Holland

Posted in Music by jukeboxparables on May 5, 2009

Another two new tracks off the bands upcoming album The Eternal. Can you believe Thurston is 50years old? I can’t. To me he’ll always be that late 20-something shaggy haired crazy dood circa the 1980’s!

Sonic Youth month continues…

Sonic Youth – What We Know. Live on Jools Holland

Posted in Music by jukeboxparables on May 1, 2009

I’m declaring May: Sonic Youth month. Because after a few listens of their 16th album “The Eternal” …basically they’ve still got it. No other band in History has been able to pull this off in my opinion; that is not making rehashed or dull or just plain dinosaur music after 30+ years. Maybe Bowie… or The Beatles.

The Eternal is as fresh as their 15th effort Rather Ripped but rather than emitting a cleaner lighter vibe that album had it has memorable heavy/dirty hooks as if giving nods to albums like “Goo” and “Dirty”. Full review in the coming weeks.

But here’s the band playing “What We Know” on Jools Holland (above). Jools rightly mentions the band played way back on the shows debut in 1992. So I’ve tracked down that performance (below) 18years later, its all still there. Bravo.

1991: The Year Punk Broke.

Posted in Film & TV, Music by jukeboxparables on April 29, 2009

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I thought I’d link a documentary I’m a huge fan of; 1991: The Year Punk Broke. It’s a tour doco by Dave Markey filmed in 1991 which follows Sonic Youth on a leg of their European tour. Nirvana were also on tour with them at the time so it features performances by both bands as well as a few others on a Festival leg of the tour; Dinosaur Jr, Babes In Toyland and Gumball. Also mentioned / shown are The Ramones.

It’s a bit of reminiscence for me because as a kid growing up, this scene was my first exposure to Alternative music (Not that I saw it, but all the songs and sentimentality) And not so much Sonic Youth because I basically couldn’t handle their Music at age 11, but I was a huge Nirvana fan and lived and breathed that Alternative vibe they gave off as best I could understand. Of course everything they ever said in Interviews about Pop-culture and Corporate-rock kinda went straight over my head. Though getting into Sonic Youth much later probably saved my young-self’s brain from… “turning into a continuous gelatinous ball of pepper” As Thurston Moore puts it in one of the backstage excerpts. Though one of the biggest Influences on me this all gave off was a curiosity about what they were talking about; distrust of mass-media, corporations turning art into consumerism and a firm anti-image stance on Music. Punk as an attitude may have “began” in the Early 70’s (at least its exposure) but I think it was refined by the movement of Music that this documentary features. Sadly a few years later I totally forgot about all this and started listening to some awful bands. But I think I’ve come good in the end.

Everything about this doco lives and breaths the atmosphere of Music in the early 90’s. Besides the music the random excerpts and Interviews by foreign journalists usually yield post-modernist or satirical responses from Thurston and onlookers. I just love the cynicism of it all It’s must see viewing. One question I had after seeing it the first time awhile back was; How the hell is Thurston Moore still alive?

The Intro says it all really; Thurston Moore holding a tape-deck recorder and waxing lyrical into a microphone whilst he and Kurt Cobain and Kim Gordon frolic around some old railway tracks high on something good.

Besides it being on youtube, you can actually buy it on VHS I’ve been told. As for that crisp clean DVD version? It’s apparently been completed since 2006 and is in the hands of Universal to release. Oh the fricken Irony!!! Word from Dave Markey is that people should write in to get them to release it, its not in his hands!

Lastly, Check out the tour diary of the film maker Dave Markey right here. It’s great reading!

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Lee Ranaldo’s guitar -> homeward bound.

Posted in Oldschool/Classic Things, Random by jukeboxparables on April 28, 2009

ebaymustang

This is just about the best forum thread on the internet leaving aside all those ‘famous’ threads ridiculing various people of course. This is worth the read if you care about warm fuzzy stories and guitars.

First a small tidbit of information. NYC Alternative/Nowave/Noise-rock/Post-punk/Indie band Sonic Youth have; since their inception been original in many ways. One such way they get their unique sound is their alternate guitar tunings which is easy in the Studio but playing live there was only one solution, owning a large amount of guitars. This eventually spiraled out of control (from a practical perspective) and circa the early to mid 1990’s the band famously had a massive collection of rare, vintage, classic beautiful guitars of types fervently switching between them on-stage for various songs.

In fact if you check out their official ‘gearography’ you’ll note that theres over 100 guitars cataloged. All these guitars had various modifications, had been with the band 20years and had the battle scars to prove it. They’re literally covered in the blood and sweat of the band whilst they hammered out their art. Basically they’re priceless.

Now onto the thread. Forum member “Sauerkraut” was recently looking to buy a Fender Mustang on Ebay, from the USA (he being from The Netherlands) he eventually found a nice; what seemed to be an original example with a fair bit of wear and tear (pictured above) He got it fairly cheap and it was shipped off to him. Whilst he was waiting for it to arrive he stumbled on to Sonic Youth’s ‘gearography’ rather randomly. And something caught his eye.

It was this photo of Lee Ranaldo’s guitar;

lrmustang

Now take a quick look at both guitars. You’ll probably obviously notice they’re the same colour. In the photo of Lee’s (above) however the Neck pickup is the double coil variety called a ‘humbucker’ it being twice the width of a regular ‘single coil’ like the one below it. To install this modification you need to route out the wood on the guitar (so the humbucker fits) Forum member “Sauerkraut” studied the pictures of his purchase. It did indeed have the routing space and if you look at the various scratches, they are exactly the same. It’s the same guitar!

I should point out right now; In 1999 Sonic Youth’s guitars were STOLEN yes, they lost a whole heap of their prized possessions and famously had to re-stock all their gear again. One or two of the guitars have been recovered over the years nearly completely destroyed though.

All hail the Internet, 10 years later the guitar turns up. So what happened next? The forum ran hot with talk about what this guy from The Netherlands should do. Eventually somebody knew somebody who contacted the bands Guitar technician. But before anything else was organized a bit of a ‘man-hunt’ ensued. It was alleged that the guy who sold him the guitar could have been the Initial thief! So he was queried for more information.

His story was that, he bought it from someone in California and then went on to claim that he was a local Police chief who played in a band called “Most Wanted”. Does that sound like the most dubious story to cover your ass? That’s exactly what I thought except then someone checked it out and as it turns out; “Most Wanted” are a band

A POLICE BAND!

mostwantedband

Someone photochopped the band t-shirt in there. Everyone is assuming the Police chief is the guy on the left (since he’s playing a Mustang) and word from the chief himself;

I am a local Police Chief and certainly would like to nail the individual who took the guitar or provide info leading to the individual who took it. I actually played this guitar in our police band called “Most Wanted” were we go into schools and play for youth and use our music as a way to interact and tell youth about the negatives of violence, drugs and alcohol.

This is like Irony overload or something; A band called Sonic Youth plays together 20years leading a wave in experimental alernative indie rock fueled by illicit substances which probably influenced a bunch of kids to do the same. An instrument in this (pun intended) gets stolen and is then bought by a Police chief to play to Youth about the negatives of such things and now the Guitar is homeward bound and the Police are after the original thief!

The good-guy Cop in this story posted pics of the guitar as he bought it;

mustangpieces

And the information of the seller has been passed on the the band for further inquiries. It all doesn’t end there however. The guitar technician the guy from The Netherlands contacted gets back to him. Sonic Youth just happen to be playing a show on their European tour. Said guy was invited, given special guitar goodies, was paid what he bought the guitar for, got to meet the band and Lee backstage and was promised free entry to all future Sonic Youth shows for the rest of his life.

Someone should make this thread into a movie!

Sonic Youth – New mp3 “Sacred Trickster”

Posted in Music by jukeboxparables on April 21, 2009

ole-877-sacred-trickster1

Matadorrecords are hosting an entire track off Sonic Youth’s upcoming 16th album “The Eternal” You can listen to it right here. It’s a short 2:10minute song, punchy and melodic yet has that ‘void-esque’ feeling happening. Anyway check it out for yourselves.

I should re-iterate you can pre-order online via Matador starting April 28th. The album comes out on June 9th.

If you pre-order you get;

– a code to stream the album early, from April 28
– an exclusive live vinyl lp recorded in New York on July 4, 2008 (subject to availability)
– an exclusive poster
– exclusive additional mp3 downloads of outtakes & more live material
– early access to concert tickets in the US (especially if you sign up now)

/end promotion.

Blender gallery – rockarchive 10th anniversary exhibit

Posted in Music, Oldschool/Classic Things, Photography by jukeboxparables on March 23, 2009

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On Saturday I made a date with Paddington’s Blender gallery because they are hosting rockarchive’s collection of UK based limited music related photography spanning many decades. Hung prints included; David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Nirvana, Johnny Cash, The Beatles, Blondie, The Clash, Sex Pistols, Siouxsie Sioux and many many more. All of the prints are limited releases available for purchase, ouch did I come close. Particular shots of Cobain and Sioux we’re amongst highlights.

It’s the first time the collection is running in Australia, it being based in the UK, It features dozens of portfolios of some of the worlds best music photographers and runs from Friday 20th March until Tuesday 21st April 2009 you can get all the info at either rockarchives website or the Blender gallery.

I was blown away by more than a few of the shots and more importantly the story behind them. I’ve borrowed the photo above as a means to get you all out there to take a look. If I’m infringing copyright please let me know.

I chose that shot because I absolutely love the story behind it. It was taken by and is the copyright of Ed Sirrs and the story behind it reads; The date was 20 Aug 1991.

“The support band had been ignored by an almost empty house, but the place is suddenly capacity rammed and heaving for headliners Sonic Youth. Four feet away from the side of the little stage, oblivious to the monumental racket, the support band’s singer/guitarist (Kurt Cobain) catches a few zzzs on a narrow wooden bench.”

That’s a moment in time. One of my all time favourite bands Nirvana did indeed tour/support Sonic Youth (another of my favourites) during the explosion of the Seattle sound in the late 80’s early 90’s. This photo of Kurt makes him look like a regular guy taking a nap, a roady perhaps? (though how you could fall asleep during the aural assault that is Sonic Youth, I don’t know) a few months on to a year later Nirvana became the biggest band in the world. 3 years later the combined effects of childhood scoliosis / undiagnosed stomach cramps -> various drug addictions / unrelenting & unwanted international media pressure, perhaps all combined to cause Kurt to commit suicide. But here he’s just a regular guy having a nap.

EDIT:: looky what I found. Yes it’s from the same show!

Sonic Youth – Happiness is a warm gun… Vinyl!

Posted in Music, Oldschool/Classic Things by jukeboxparables on March 23, 2009

I’ve been meaning to start a real vinyl collection for the longest while, It’s always been on the back burner because everything and anything else has kept me occupied instead. But yesterday I was in Repressed records in Newtown watching a friends band Royal Headache play and simply could not leave their vinyl collection alone.

Especially this 1991 Bootleg LP out of Germany entitled “Happiness is a warm gun…” It’s a Sonic Youth compilation of sorts and the track list is quite amazing;

1. Personality Crisis
2. Dirty Boots (demo)
3. Is It My Body
4. Flower (Anti Fuckword Radio Edit)
5. I Wanna Be Your Dog (live)
6. Song For Karen (live) [Tunic]
7. Computer Age
8. Burning Farm
9. Gum
10. Electric Pen
11. Disappearer (demo)
12. That’s All I Know (Right Now)
13. White Cross
14. Sister (live) [Schizophrenia]
15. Rewolf (Special Natas Mix)
16. It’s An Interview
17. My Friend Goo (live)
18. Cinderella’s Big Score (live)

* 1. from Sassy magazine promo 7″
* 2. from Sassy magazine promo 7″
* 3. from Sub Pop Singles Club 2×7″
* 4. from Flower 7″
* 5. live 6/4/87 London, England w/ Iggy Pop on vox (same as Screaming Fields)
* 6. live 9/17/90 Hamburg, Germany @ Docks
* 7. from The Bridge compilation
* 8. from Every Band Has A Shonen Knife… compilation
* 9. from Mirror/Dash 7″
* 10. from Mirror/Dash 7″
* 11. from Disappearer single
* 12. from Disappearer single
* 13. from NME’s Hat Trick 7″
* 14. live 6/4/87 London, England (same as Screaming Fields)
* 15. from Flower 7″
* 16. from 1990 promotional flexi interview 7″
* 17. live 9/17/90 Hamburg, Germany @ Docks
* 18. live 9/17/90 Hamburg, Germany @ Docks

Let the vinyl collecting begin. I suppose I should now dish out heaps of cash for a good system too. Oh the woes of liking oldschool things. This Sonic Youth LP is definitely worth it though. Bootleg goodness with songs off Daydream Nation, Goo and others and a track featuring Iggy Pop on vocals. All on a Blue Vinyl 12″ How could I not get this?

Sonic Youth – The Eternal, preorders March 24th

Posted in Music by jukeboxparables on March 8, 2009

theenternal

Sonic Youth’s 16th album “the eternal” is slated for release on June 9th. If you pre-order you get to stream the album starting April 28th. You also get an additional live LP of the bands July 4th NYC show. The album is the followup to 2006’s Rather Ripped however It’s their first on NYC label Matador Records (home to Liz Phair, Mogwai, Lou Reed and Pavement) which is their 8th label no less! I can’t actually believe an album like Goo is close to 20years old, It and Dirty were the two albums I initially heard songs off when I was starting to listen to music as a youngin’ Though it took me well into last year to pickup Daydream Nation. A travesty, I know. More on that another time.

You can hear a medly-style short-cut mashup of the album here

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