Tag Archives: Sonic Youth

High Praise for High Art

This is somewhat of a Question of the Week sorta… Ok, so can anyone think of a band or an artist that has consistently put out high quality, evolving music for decades? For my money, Sonic Youth probably beats them all. In fact, I have often proclaimed them to be the most “successful” band of all time, but that’s a whole other story. Certainly some SY albums are stronger than others, but overall, they have an initimidating discography consisting of nearly thirty years worth of material. Very, very few bands can boast such a claim. So, what do others think? What other artists do you feel should be mentioned? Do they rank higher than SY and Why? You know where the comment section is. Peace.

The Simpsons!

Major Labels Are Not So Major

Here’s a random rant I wrote a while back:

I often hear artists say they must sign to a major label to gain commercial success in the music world. Supposedly with such corporate support they are able to reach more people with their music, people they would otherwise never reach. Perhaps, this is true. Of course, this would not be the punk rock way of going about things. Signing to a major label is a sign of selling out to most fans of the punk orientation. By the early 1990s, we witnessed various underground (many of the punk variety) artists make the leap from independent labels to major labels. Some achieved the commercial and artistic success they sought, others saw little to no change in album sales or fan base. In fact, several groups have abandoned or have been dropped by their major labels and have made a return to the underground. What really fascinates me is that some of these bands have sold more records on their independent labels than on their major counterparts. This makes one question the earlier assumption that higher status means higher chart positions. There are numerous examples that disprove this theory. Sonic Youth fans recently enjoyed the release of their latest, sixteenth studio album, The Eternal. This album is particularly significant because it marks the first time in twenty years the experimental rockers released a studio album under an independent label; this time it was the prominent and well-respected, Matador Records. Previously they were signed to Geffen Records, a major label. But, naturally, none of this matters because it does not matter if you sell a hundred records or a million or whatever. What matters is if you have integrity in your art and that you are enjoying yourself. Then again, various miserable fucks have made fantastic music over the years, so I guess you don’t even have to enjoy yourself, but you deserve it!

Thank God, I managed to write X amount of words on the music industry without using the bland term “indie,” until now. I hate that word (even though I am guilty of its use) it’s too vague. If anyone has an actual definition for said word. Pitch it to me. For now, keep on rocking (independently) in the free world.

Nice Overplayed List, WMBR!

As the DJ noted, the list isn’t about good or bad…it was about what was played a bit much in 2009. Turns out a few personal favorites were included like:

#97 – Nobunny – “Nobunny Loves You”
#73 – Black Lips – “Short Fuse”
#40 – Big Pink – Dominoes
#31 – Box Elders – “Alice & Friends”
#13 – Sonic Youth – “Leaky Lifeboat (for Gregory Corso)”
#12 – Jay Reatard – “It Ain’t Gonna Save Me”
#10 – Pains of Being Pure at Heart – “Young Adult Friction”
#4 – Mission of Burma – “1, 2, 3, Partyy!”

Sonic Youth’s Future

Sonic Youth aren’t a band who shy away from hard work; they’ve already recorded an astounding 16 albums since forming back in 1981 and they’ve told 6 Music News there are plans in the pipeline to release a follow-up to their latest offering, The Eternal.

“We’re probably going back into the studio next year,” said the band’s Lee Ranaldo.

However, before they start writing the next album, they’re working on the soundtrack for a French teen film, which Ranaldo is very excited about; “We met the director in Paris and we liked what we saw.”

The band is also securing plans for a DVD release, combining footage from their recent 2007/2008 Daydream Nations tour. It will also include historic archive footage of them playing the record back in 1988.

Sonic Youth never gets old, literally (Thurston Moore’s appearance) and figuratively.

Concert Review: The Pixies & Jay Reatard @ Wang Theatre (11/27/09)

Bands: Pixies, Jay Reatard
Venue: Wang Theatre (Citi Performing Arts Center), Boston, MA
Date: Friday, November 27, 2009

Act One: Jay Reatard

1. Blood Visions (BV)
2. It’s So Easy (BV)
3. Nightmares (BV)
4. Fading All Away (BV)
5. It Ain’t Gonna Save Me (WMF)
6. My Shadow (BV)
7. Oh It’s Such A Shame (BV)
8. I’m Watching You (WMF)
9. I Know A Place (S 06-07)
10. All Over Again (S 06-07)
11. See/Saw (MS ’08)
12. Hammer I Miss You (S 06-07)
13. Before I Was Caught (WMF)
14. Faking It (WMF)
15. There’s No Sun (WMF)
16. Waiting For Something (BV)
17. Trapped Here (MS ’08)

Jay and His Denmarkian cohorts (Cola Freaks), they robbed the painted nude ceiling women of their respective virginities with their twelve o’clock chunk, even though most of the crowd was settling in through their set. Their sound was great. I only wish that I was standing and bumping into my companions. As soon as they hit the stage, they blasted into the classic “Blood Visions.” Within just a few moments of mayhem, Jay Reatard aficionados, the few of us, could tell he sounded better than ever before. One fan in particular was so excited he stood up and wildly danced and humped the air! The songs were longer (well, by his standards lol) and resembled their studio counterparts a bit more, whilst retaining that noisy assault Jay prides himself on. Highlights were “See/Saw” (as always) and “I Know A Place,” although the entire set was exceptional. Without a doubt Jay Reatard goes down as my favorite opening act. Alas, the performance was underappreciated, since everyone came for the Pixies, but that’s okay because we’re all fucking creeps!

Act Two: The Pixies
Speaking of creepiness, there’s nothing creepier than Salavdor Dali and his eye ball spinning and slicing, short film, Un Chien Andalou, which was displayed on a gigantic screen for the audience to see. As all Pixies devotees should know, the signature song, “Debaser,” was based on Dali’s spooky work of art. With this in mind, you would think they would open with that song. But, instead they opened with most of the Doolittle B Sides: “Dancing the Manta Ray,” “Weird In My School,” and “Manta Ray,” finishing the would be LP tracks later. This was only a minor qualm for me, because I (and everyone else) was so excited to see The Pixies! As Kim Deal noted, they were “crusin” through the B Sides and they cruised right into “Debaser,” continuing with the entire Doolittle album, as planned. While the band cranked out these classics the audience witnessed vairous, often bizarre, images on the big screen. These videos perefectly complemented the wonderfully horrific music of the Pixies. Horrific in the sense of unsettling. But, of course with their pop hooks and rock and roll chops, one couldn’t feel any emotion but sheer thrill and joy. Musically and technically they weren’t as proficient as Sonic Youth, pretty damn close though. Where they may have slightly (and I stress slightly) lacked in musical ability and sound quality they surely made up for in showmanship. The quartet kept the audience standing and bopping and shaking from the moment they hit the stage till the very end. When they finished their magnum opus, they briefly left the stage. Next, they returned to complete their B Sides. A nice little theatric came in the form of smoke, which engulfed the crowd as the band kicked “Into the White.” Then they played a rather familiar song AGAIN: “Wave of Mutilation UK Surf.” The second version of the classic, merrily malevelent number was more serene than it’s original counterpart, giving the eerie lyrics it’s eerie due a la Jay Reatarard- “Searching For You” perhaps. So, after these two tunes, The Pixies said good bye and hit the dustry trail….. for a bit. After highly energized crowd response, the group pulled a Sonic Youth and returned for Encore II. This time, there were no more Doolittle tracks or B Sides left. What would they play?! Well, they began with the endearing, “Where Is My Mind?” much to everyone’s delight. Next came “Caribou,” a solid performance for a solid track. The night concluded with “Vamos,” another Surfer Rosa classic (WIMM being the first).

Chris Overall: A + Yes, it did indeed beat out Sonic Youth, which was tough, tough competition. This concert is unique in that I recognized every song performed, including both opening act and main act. That has never happened before! So, what else is there to say; one of my favorite bands playing one of my favorite albums, what more can I ask for?

Glen Overall: I’d give this a fringe A+. Excellent sets by both bands. Some Pixies songs that really really caught my attention were “In The White,” “Money Gone To Heaven,” and “La La Love You.” I like Jay’s new direction and I sincerely hope that he will be able to find adequate replacements when the two Cola Freaks go back to being Cola Freaks full-time (provided they don’t go full Reatard). Obviously, I’d prefer a more interactive experience to just standing up in amazement. Motion is always a plus.


* POST SHOW UPDATE* It should be noted that this was one of Jay Reatard’s final performances, for he passed away nearly two months later. Long live Jay and long live the Pixies! It was an honor to see both legends on the same stage. RIP Jay.

Concert Review: Sonic Youth & The Feelies @ Wilbur Theatre (11/22/09)

Artist(s): Sonic Youth, The Feelies
Location: Wilbur Theatre, Boston, MA
Date: Sunday, November 22, 2009
Grade: A+

The Feelies:
I can safely say I was feeling the the Feelies haha. Nothing too special, but decent. I sensed some really catchy material and I could tell the young to the young at heart audience dug it; particularly one fan who was wildly dancing, to the point that it looked like he was having a seizure a la Ian Curtis. This continued during Sonic Youth’s set lol. I’m surprised he took a break in between performances! Anyway, the band seemed pretty chill, making very little contact with their fans. With that being said, the lead singer/guitarist rocked out and hopped and bopped a little. I might listen to them more, I haven’t decided; either way, they were a solid opening act. Clearly, the audience was pleased enough with their performance that they applauded long enough to elicit an encore. An encore for an opening band? I’ve never seen it. So, hats off to them!

Sonic Youth:
It never ceases to amaze me how cool, hip, YOUNG, Sexy( especially Kim in her black and white dress!) and all around mysterious these guys and gal appear to be. When Sonic Youth hits the stage, it’s not “Hello, Boston are you ready to rock?! Now we’ll kiss your ass with all our hits you know and love!” Nah, lame for these Artsy Fartsy hipsters. Instead they produce an enormous, four guitar assault, simply a Pounding, Pulsing Wall of noise,feedback, distortion, and killer tunes! Not to mention a crazu light show to complement the music. They essentially played their latest album, The Eternal in its entirety, minus “Thurnderclap For Bobby Pyn,” one of my favorites, but that’s okay. They played the somewhat new songs in no particular order with a few tracks from their 1980s catalog as well. One of the most memorable moments for me was when Thurston laid down frontwards on the stage and practically scraped his guitar across it, generating some sweet, guitar sounds. Everyone else, except the Nightwatchman, would have fucked up their strings and created some cacophanous racket. As of now, SY holds the candle (no pun intended) for best encore, previously held by King Khan & The Shrines. They kicked right into “The Sprawl,” track 3 from 1988’s Daydream Nation and followed it in sequence with track four, “Cross the Breeze,” an amazing powerhouse. Then they said peace and left the stage. But, that wasn’t good enough for us! We screamed for our No Wave heroes to return and return they did for Encore 2. I don’t think I’ve seen 2 encores by a band, but for some reason I feel like I have, either way it could not compare to the Supreme Genius of this or else I would have stored it better in my psyche. So, they blasted into “What We Know,” a new classic from The Eternal and finished the terrific evening with the 80s bizzaro Americana anthem, “Death Valley ’69.” Definitely my favorite song all night. As the married couple of Thurston and Kim made their way backstage they playfully pushed each other around like teenagers flirting with each other in the hall between classes. That’s pretty cool, considering they have been married for 25 years!

Overall: This is a well-deserved A+. I loved every moment of Sonic Youth’s set and I dug The Feelies too. This concert ranks as # 5 for all time best concerts. In fact, SY were, musically, the best performers I have ever seen, with The Shrines, Radiohead, and Dinosaur Jr as moderately close rivals. The cool thing about these folks is the fact that they can be so damn, high energy and engaing and at the same time, so modest and mellow. It’s very fascinating, to say the least. Simply stated, seeing Sonic Youth is a spectacular attack on multiple senses!Pixies have tough competition, but I think they can do it…

Glen: I wouldn’t argue with Chris on SY’s performance. Stunning. If I had done my homework and listened to more of The Eternal before this show I’m sure this  would easily be a top 5 concert. It was nice to sit down and bask in the glory of the sound around me, but an all-time favorite for me is one where I’m standing front-row and doing various “dances” such as the pogo, mosh, or head movement all while basking in the glory of the sound. That said this show made “Death Valley ’69” an instant favorite for me and made damn sure that “‘Cross the Breeze” is freaking amazing. I’d give this show an A.

Here’s the setlist with the name of the album each song appeared on.

1. “No Way”
2. “Sacred Trickster”
3. “Calming the Snake”
4. “Stereo Sanctity”
5. “Walkin’ Blue”
6. “Anti-Orgasm”
7. “Leaky Lifeboat (For Gregory Corso)”
8. “Shadow of A Doubt”
9. “Antenna”
10. “Malibu Gas Station”
11. “Poison Arrow”
12. “Tom Violence”
13. “Massage the History”
——-Encore Break——–
14. “The Sprawl”
15. “Cross the Breeze”
—–2nd Encore Break—-
16. “What We Know”
17. “Death Valley 69″

1-3, 5-7, 9-11, 13, 16- The Eternal (2009)
4- Sister (1987)
8 & 12- EVOL (1986)
14 & 15- Daydream Nation (1988)
17- Bad Moon Rising (1984)