Originally Posted by Severian
Similar experience here. Nirvana begat Sonic Youth for me. And Washing Machine sounded like the Velvet Underground playing the White Album. I was floored. EJST&NS was actually the first Sonic Youth album I bought, but Washing Machine blew my mind.
One of the most lasting things SY taught me was that music didn't necessarily have to be loud or even aggressive to kick fucking ass. Late-'80s/early-'90s kids like myself reckoned with that assumption a lot I think. But SY's palette was so broad and their dynamic range so vast that even a song like "Little Trouble Girl" could qualify as "kick ass." Somehow. And the gentle, dreary "Diamond Sea," which was just a revelation for time the first time I heard it.
This was an important revelation for me. It led to my exploration of non-loud music. Loudness is worthless in and of itself. It's the tone and the vibe and the energy that makes a great loud song great, and SY infused songs in every tempo with an equally compelling energy. So I credit them with a lot. I don't think I ever would have gotten into electronic music if not for SY, for instance. I looked for that same ability to harness energy properly in other artists, and fell in love with Aphex Twin in very short order.
I still look for that quality. A mastery over the motivation behind the music, and a deliberate and knowing appreciation for mood and the power that a properly shifting chord progression, or properly placed sample, can pack. One thing most of my favorite artists have in common is an ability to make ugly things sound or feel beautiful, and that's exactly the type of mood mastery I'm talking about.
SY was heavy as fuck.
well said. a clip of bull in the heather was the very first sy i heard. those plucking sounds were so cool i was already a fan. then some of diamond sea and then junkies promise on a late night show. i had to save up a little to afford the WM cd. what a wait. i was a fan before i even heard a whole album. remember those ads from columbia house where you get 10 cds for a penny? i got bad moon, evol, sister, ciccone, and goo all at once. so fucking awesome.