Noise, YEAH. Art rock, AWW YEAH. Distortion, FUCK YEAH. “Her brother said she’s just a bitch”, wait, what? Sonic Youth have quickly become one of my all time favourite bands. I hate to say it but they’re cool as fuck, and that’s a big part of why I like them. Every record has a “we don’t give a shit what you think” feel to it in a way. That’s what they were known for when they came about in the early 80’s and also why they’ve had a turbulent relationship with music critics (good thing I like them).
‘Sister‘ is their fourth album released in 1987 and continued the bands journey to go from total noise rock to a more defined rock sound. The album is a loose concept album about the life of Philip K.Dick, a science fiction novelist. Another important note is that the band had recruited a new drummer in the form of Steve Shelley two years previous, and his influence is evident throughout. With the album they kept the distortion and the crazy guitar improv, but made their music much more accessible. This is obvious is songs such as ‘Schizophrenia’, ‘Stereo Sancity’ and ‘Tuff Gnarl’. They sound rough but melodic, they explode at times and take off in scattered riffs but it all sounds so good. They didn’t change their ways because of some bad reviews, they stuck to their guns and developed as a group. ‘Hotwire My Heart’ is a cover of early punk-rock band Crime and you can certainly sense that it’s not written by Sonic Youth.
‘Catholic Block’, ‘Kotton Krown’ and ‘White Cross’ are also stand out tracks. With that in mind, it’s very difficult to pin-point a certain track that stands out or summarises the sound of the album. It’s a sound you really get into after a few listens, you understand how everything blends together. It’s far out for sure, as is the whole sound of Sonic Youth, but that’s the appeal. They kind of abused the rock sound that was common in the early 80’s to join a small genre of bands that were doing likewise. It’s hard to knock them because of all the work they’ve done, most of it being very influential on future experimental bands, so if you do go off and listen to the record just bear with it.
I highly recommended this record, if you’re looking to get into Sonic Youth this is a good place to start, or a few years before with ‘Bad Moon Rising’ where the band really started to focus on a sound. Either way, have a listen, it might get you outside your comfort zone.
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