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-   -   reassessing a thousand leaves (http://www.sonicyouth.com/gossip/showthread.php?t=15905)

demonrail666 08.29.2007 11:59 AM

reassessing a thousand leaves
 
really enjoying this whole 'reassessing' thing. a great excuse to listen back to albums i've treated increasingly as wallpaper these past few years. One album that definitely falls into that category for me is A Thousand Leaves, which I can't recal the last time I listened to with any real level of concentration. So, as before...here goes.

1. Contre le Sexisme. Not the most 'arena-friendly' of openers. The spoken-word/effects beginning develop into a sort of Ghost Bitch-like percussion thingy. A bit of a false start, all in all.

2. Sunday. Of course, according to convention, this probably should've been the opener. Nice simple groove in a kind of Bull in the Heather vein. Even Thurston's singing works OK here. Killer guitars in the middle section. This is SY doing what they do so well.

3. Female Mechanic on Duty. Good vox by Kim here too, she's ditching the whole 'little girl lost' thing! Musically it's a bit pedestrian until the middle, with those great repeated chiming guitars - reminds me slightly of Ghost Bitch again. The second half is probably great if you're a fan of all-things-Kim. I'm not, but the gradual build up of guitars towards the end is a very nice touch.

4. Wild Flower Soul. The twin guitar interplay here is nicely organic in a Television kind of a way. A real builder, albeit one that could've done with a few less tempo shifts. Is this SY's answer to Bohemian Rhapsody?

5. Hoarfrost. Lee doing his poetry thing over some nice simple-but-engaging guitars. All maybe a little too tasteful but, in all, pretty good.

6. French Tickler. Musically this is OK once the guitars kick in but too much of it is just a backdrop for saw pretty yawn inducing Kimisms.

7. Hits of Sunshine. This has some great musical interplay, where the whole band comes together in this uber-organic, almost Can-like, way. Musically this is one of the best things they've done. If only they could've got Damo Suzuki to replace Thurston at the mic.

8. Karen Koltrane. Some amazing moments of guitar/percussion interplay that again brings Can to mind. Along with Hits of Sunshine, this really does suggest the beginnings of a new musical phase for the band.

9. The Ineffable Me. Kim Gordon's overall contribution to the band during this period just annoys me, sorry. Shame, because some of music here is pretty good.

10. Snare, Girl. Too conventionally 'song'-based to really have the space to hit the heights of Hits of Sunshine or Karen Koltrane, but still showing signs of great things.

11. Heather Angel. Has a sense of the 'hidden track' syndrome about it. A bit of a sketch, apart from the last rock-out section that, were it develped into a full track would surely be something of a pit favourite.

I see this as an album that shows real signs of a 'new' SY emerging. The vox still suck, and I do believe that KG was a nightmare during this period. In all though, it's a REAL improvement on EJSTNS and, especially, Washing Machine. It also, in Hits of Sunshine and Karen Koltrane, contains two of their greatest ever moments.

Everyneurotic 08.29.2007 12:03 PM

i love it, "hits of sunshine" is one of my favorite sy songs ever.

atsonicpark 08.29.2007 12:55 PM

Their best album since Daydream and no album has better it since (though "Ghosts and Flowers" come close). Oddly, this album has always reminded me of Bad Moon Rising in a way.. seems to have a lot of similiar ideas and tones emerging.. One of the first times I robo'd, I was listening to this album.. Hits of Sunshine was swirling around and filling up the room.. it was amazing... Karen Koltrane and Hoarfrost remind me of the winter time.. perhaps because I had listened to the whole album in a cold basement in the middle of winter and it was about negative 20 degrees and covered in snow outside.. so, yeah, a very wintery album (I think most SY albums are "spring" or "summer" albums, but this reminds me of winter and Bad Moon Rising reminds me of autumn)...

Lots of interesting riffs, chiming sprawling long instrumental passages, not really anything offensive or uninteresting in the mix or lyrically; it's all very very good, almost seeming effortless, like SY could pop out 50 albums like this ...

Kim sounds like she was in a really bad mood on this album

"hits of sunshine" really is amazing, though, and not just because of the drugs... I don't think they ever have or ever will do something similiar to that again... the middle part which is really straight forward and just filled with guitar effects.. beautiful.. I never connected it with Can before, but I can totally see that now..

This seems like it was recorded in a dark time for the band (and the next album got a bit darker; maybe because of the stolen gear)... hmm.. but yeah. Strangely consistant and beautiful and perhaps proves that the best albums are recorded at the lowest parts in peoples's lives. Great!

screamingskull 08.29.2007 12:59 PM

it's probably my least favorite sonic youth album, i do enjoy it but i think the songs wander off in too many un-listenable directions.

demonrail666 08.29.2007 01:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by atsonicpark
Their best album since Daydream and no album has better it since (though "Ghosts and Flowers" come close). Oddly, this album has always reminded me of Bad Moon Rising in a way.. seems to have a lot of similiar ideas and tones emerging.. One of the first times I robo'd, I was listening to this album.. Hits of Sunshine was swirling around and filling up the room.. it was amazing... Karen Koltrane and Hoarfrost remind me of the winter time.. perhaps because I had listened to the whole album in a cold basement in the middle of winter and it was about negative 20 degrees and covered in snow outside.. so, yeah, a very wintery album (I think most SY albums are "spring" or "summer" albums, but this reminds me of winter and Bad Moon Rising reminds me of autumn)...

Lots of interesting riffs, chiming sprawling long instrumental passages, not really anything offensive or uninteresting in the mix or lyrically; it's all very very good, almost seeming effortless, like SY could pop out 50 albums like this but just.. don't...

I happen to agree that Kim must've been a nightmare at this point.. to the other band members, at least.. can you imagine Lee and Steve sitting there, helping to construct this brilliant song.. and then hearing Kim's awful awful bland shit poetry being lack-of-Midol-inspiredly-shit-upon by her awful voice? Man. Kim has the vocals of a chick who is bleeding all in her panties and is screaming at everyone like she needs to be strangled. Just excruciatingly bad and not in a cool way.. completely embarassing.. it doesn't ruin the music, but Jesus... I think she finally learned to sing around "Sonic Nurse".. (I think Lee and Thurston learned to sing many albums before this one) but yeah.. definitely always has been and always will be the weak link in the band.

"hits of sunshine" really is amazing, though, and not just because of the drugs... I don't think they ever have or ever will do something similiar to that again... the middle part which is really straight forward and just filled with guitar effects.. beautiful.. I never connected it with Can before, but I can totally see that now..



Great points. I probably come across as a bit of an anti-Kim guy which wasn't always the case at all. I think she started going down hill with maybe Dirty. She's amazing on the early stuff like Ghost Bitch, Flower, Halloween, Beauty Lies, Shaking Hell, etc. I blame the menopause.

I think the thing I love most about Hits of Sunshine and Karen Koltrane is the way they've managed to create this totally organic sound that doesn't rely on what they'd done before or see them trying to fit in with what was happening around them.

scott v 08.29.2007 01:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by atsonicpark
Their best album since Daydream and no album has better it since (though "Ghosts and Flowers" come close). Oddly, this album has always reminded me of Bad Moon Rising in a way.. seems to have a lot of similiar ideas and tones emerging.. One of the first times I robo'd, I was listening to this album.. Hits of Sunshine was swirling around and filling up the room.. it was amazing... Karen Koltrane and Hoarfrost remind me of the winter time.. perhaps because I had listened to the whole album in a cold basement in the middle of winter and it was about negative 20 degrees and covered in snow outside.. so, yeah, a very wintery album (I think most SY albums are "spring" or "summer" albums, but this reminds me of winter and Bad Moon Rising reminds me of autumn)...

Lots of interesting riffs, chiming sprawling long instrumental passages, not really anything offensive or uninteresting in the mix or lyrically; it's all very very good, almost seeming effortless, like SY could pop out 50 albums like this but just.. don't...

I happen to agree that Kim must've been a nightmare at this point.. to the other band members, at least.. can you imagine Lee and Steve sitting there, helping to construct this brilliant song.. and then hearing Kim's awful awful bland shit poetry being lack-of-Midol-inspiredly-shit-upon by her awful voice? Man. Kim has the vocals of a chick who is bleeding all in her panties and is screaming at everyone like she needs to be strangled. Just excruciatingly bad and not in a cool way.. completely embarassing.. it doesn't ruin the music, but Jesus... I think she finally learned to sing around "Sonic Nurse".. (I think Lee and Thurston learned to sing many albums before this one) but yeah.. definitely always has been and always will be the weak link in the band.

"hits of sunshine" really is amazing, though, and not just because of the drugs... I don't think they ever have or ever will do something similiar to that again... the middle part which is really straight forward and just filled with guitar effects.. beautiful.. I never connected it with Can before, but I can totally see that now..

This seems like it was recorded in a dark time for the band (and the next album got a bit darker; maybe because of the stolen gear)... hmm.. but yeah. Strangely consistant and beautiful and perhaps proves that the best albums are recorded at the lowest parts in peoples's lives. Great!


ok, so you don't like kim's voice which is fine i have at some point or another not liked certain songs sung by all three vocalists but your descriptive beef with Kim is borderline "disgraceful" to really find the need to indulge about how she goes thru pms is really ridicuolus... i mean do you know what its like to have a period? should you be talking about such things in such a way...

I think not.

Glice 08.29.2007 02:20 PM

Hey, let's comment on Sonic Youth, I nearly never do that: This is probably my second favourite Sonic Youth album, and a record I'll play to anyone who doesn't 'get' Sonic Youth or has dismissed them because of Dirty/ Goo. I like the vocal production on this album, it's nice and dusky.

I well hate myself for describing the vocal production as dusky.

deflinus 08.29.2007 02:29 PM

i'm going through my A Thousand Leaves phase. i really enjoy the album. Hoarfrost and Sunday are simply amazing.

atsonicpark 08.29.2007 07:27 PM

scott v, it's just a description of her singing style, it's all in fun, i don't think it matters. if someone described my vocals as "sounding like some faggot who has a pierced dick fucking a light socket while being fucked in the ass by a big black man who previously raped adam's mom" or something, i'd just laugh. you know? it's all in fun. music criticism isn't serious!

but yeah.. sonic youth are very easy to criticize.. i can honestly say i don't have much criticism for this album... and as maybe mentioned before on this thread, the best album of theirs to get drugged out to. any drug of choice.

Everyneurotic 08.29.2007 10:15 PM

i think leaves probably scratch the surface of my triumvirate of top sy albums, goodbye dirty sex.

dressedindreams 08.30.2007 05:28 AM

its in my top five for sure.
i've never paid attention to how the vocals sound when it comes
to sonic youth, just the music, and the music on this album is some
of the best they've done.

atsonicpark 08.30.2007 07:49 AM

"triumvirate".. nice!

Neongod 08.30.2007 01:25 PM

The following is my opinion. I don't claim to speak on behalf of the forum.

1. Contre le Sexisme.
Not at all necessary. If it were under two minutes then maybe but it's just one of many "songs" that keep this album inconsistent.

2. Sunday.
Not only is this song accessible to those that have never heard SY, it's one that doesn't disappoint the hard-core fans. A great attempt at gaining a new audience and a vehicle to show off their reinvention.

3. Female Mechanic on Duty.
Another addition to the inconsistent tracks on the album. It has it's moments but they are few.

4. Wild Flower Soul.
My favorite track on the album. The contrast between the verses and the noise fit perfectly, especially the intro into the first verse. My only nit-pick would be how it fades out in the end. It feels like a cop-out.

5. Hoarfrost.
Short and sweet. Lee wastes no time getting to the point of this song and paints a beautiful, vivid picture.

6. French Tickler.
A nice, relaxed tune. The music and the lyrics mesh well together, even though it was originally an instrumental. This is probably Kim's best song on the album, but that's not saying much.

7. Hits of Sunshine.
This doesn't sound like SY, but I love their take on psychedelia. Another highlight.

8. Karen Koltrane.
My second favorite of the album. It's long, but it deserves every second. Each new phrase segues perfectly with the previous. Classic (does 10 years qualify as classic?) post-Goo Lee.

9. The Ineffable Me.
I prefer the Kim-less SYR2 version. The lyrics are clever but the delivery...ouch.

10. Snare, Girl.
Another laid-back song, I would have to say this one is average. Thank God Thurston took on the vocals.

11. Heather Angel.
I'll agree with the OP on this: it sounds more like an idea than a complete song.

In summary, if you haven't deduced my opinion of the album as a whole, it's inconsistent. It contains some of SY's best tracks but also some of their most embarrassing (I'm looking at you Kim, even though I love you ;) ).

Everyneurotic 08.30.2007 02:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Neongod
...I don't claim to speak on behalf of the forum...


thankfully.

demonrail666 08.30.2007 03:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Everyneurotic
thankfully.


Ouch:eek:

demonrail666 08.30.2007 03:12 PM

All of these reassessing things are just opinions. It's just nice to relisten to albums that for me anyway are sort of taken for granted. Especially when no new SY product is likely to come out for quite some time.

nature scene 08.30.2007 04:27 PM

I think their best album of the 90s

Neongod 08.30.2007 05:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Everyneurotic
thankfully.


Fuck your mother. :D

Everyneurotic 08.30.2007 05:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by demonrail666
Ouch:eek:


i didn't mean that as an insult.

i don't need anyone to speak for me, even collectively.

Toilet & Bowels 08.30.2007 06:20 PM

my favourite sy album since the 80s probably, heather angel and contre de la sexisme are fantastic, and i'll fight anyone who disses them.


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