Originally Posted by musicplatypus
I think a lot of this is the unfortunate labeling of them being "just noise." Some of their work is noisy, surely. It is, however, so much more than that. So many are in too much of a hurry in the world and/or lazy and need things to make sense at face value. Turn off your brain, and let the Sonic waves douse your mind and penetrate your soul . . .
Yep. Hah. Well said.
I had a roommate in college who I talked to a ton about music because we had really similar taste. We were talking SY once — talking about why their music was deemed so inaccessible by so many, when to us it felt epic and beautiful and very easy to love, and he said, "I've always considered Sonic Youth to be, at its core, really just an amazing and elemental pop band in the tradition of the Beatles."
I'd never thought of it this way at the time, and surely there's a lot about SY's music that is decidedly anti-pop, but it made sense right away, and I think it's true. Not "pop" in the stylistic sense, but "pop" in the cultural sense. Four distinct personalities (at least, usually it was four), making collaborative music with four different but perfectly complimentary visions and styles.
If you put on Sonic Youth and just let the music wash over you, you find that beneath the fuzz and the feedback and the squall, there's almost always an extremely listenable and lovable foundation of grooves and melodies, shifting and changing, tweaking the musical status quo and layering it ideas and sounds previously unheard of.
There's so much simple, dynamic beauty in SY's music. "Kotton Krown" is a lovely little love song. "Teen Age Riot" is an epic, fist-pumpkins anthem. "Hey Joni" is an exercise in warped pop dynamics, "Total Trash" is a deeply melodic pop number enshrouded in noise.... "Shadow of a Doubt" is an eerie ballad that just happens to have all traditional elements stripped away and laid bare... "Eliminator Jr." is a kickass rock song. And on and on. These are all songs that could have passed for hits had SY simply taken the easy road to pop songwriting, but instead they deconstructed and reinvented, just like the Beatles did.
They might be the most listenable band I've ever heard. And certainly, they are to me and my punkish, often counterculture-leaning sensibilities what the Beatles were to my father's generation. The ideal. The ultimate. The perfect storm.
I think the world would be a better and happier place if people would just shut the fuck up and put Daydream Nation on their headphones and learn why it's so goddamn great. Same goes for pretty much every other album. Sonic Youth is for lovers.