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Old 09.01.2007, 01:11 AM   #1
demonrail666
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these reassessing threads seem to be dividing opinion but, I dunno. I'm enjoying this whole listening back process and seeing as there's no law that people have to read them, let alone post on them, what the hell. I'm only gonna do studio albums and consider CIS their first (Sonic Youth is more of an EP I suppose) Anyway ... like it or not...

here goes...

1. She's in a Bad Mood. Starts out and it's just pure night-time. For a band so associated with the city, this has a kind of rural feel. Like a camp-fire in the woods or something. Very Blair Witch. One of the blackest of opening tunes.

2. Protect Me You. Carrying on the forest-at-night theme, this introduces the whole KG 'little girl lost' theme that would be so big later in the band's career. The guitars sound like bits of metal hanging from trees, like electric wind-chimes or something.

3. Freezer Burn/I Wanna Be Your Dog. The Freezer Burn section starts out like the music used at the beginning of Eraserhead but could equally be for some gothic American horror film. And then its a leap from the woods to the city with their cover of I Wanna Be Yr Dog which seems to have reduced the original to just this howl. Kim's 'well come on' is one of the most inhuman sounds in rawk. Amazing.

4. Shaking Hell. Musically we're back in Blair Witch territory, but now it's used as more of a vehicle for Kim's vocals that, when she repeats 'shake' (another Stooges reference) it's as though she's boiling the whole Detroit punk sound down into this eerie black goo.

5. Inhuman. This is positively up beat compared with what's just taken place. The guitars have more space to, for want of a better word, 'rock'. Thurston's vocals, almost entirely submerged in the mix, can't compete with Kim's primal howl, but this lays out a template of punk nihilism that later bands like Pussy Galore would, at least in their early day, pick up on heavily.

6. The World Looks Red. Given that this was co-written by arch miserablist Michael Gira, it's surprisingly the most up beat song on the album so far. Jesus, it even has what might loosely be described as a guitar solo. Still, it's about as far away from Sweet Home Alabama as you'll get.

7. Confusion is Next. If i'd never actually heard Anarchy in the UK and just read about it, in my head this might be how I'd imagine it to sound. Staggeringly good.

8. Making the Nature Scene. A sort of funk-rap effort that roots them to the NY underground more obviously than anything else on offer here. Even so, those chiming guitars are still drawing more from the forest than they are the subway.

9. Lee is Free. A more freeform solo guitar effort that finally sees the band abandon any direct link to rock altogether. The point in the middle though where that chiming sound locks into its own groove of sorts suggests more interesting soundscapes to come.

The fact that the first album by a band so closely linked with NYC sounds like it was recorded deep in a forest in Ohio is irony itself. SY may (arguably) go on to make more 'complete' albums, but as a statement of intent, CIS is surely one of the most bloody-minded in the history of rock. A masterpiece debut to place alongside Unknown Pleasures, The Stooges, Psychocandy or Live at the Witch Trials.

I won't do any more of the pre-Geffen albums though. I've listened to them too many times to be able to really 'reassess' them, as such. Unlike all the others, this one was a bit of a chore to do, to be honest.
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Old 09.01.2007, 02:02 AM   #2
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I know Sonic Youth is considered an EP, but I can't possibly think of Confusion Is Sex as their first album. The self-titled record was very much a statement of intent, though Confusion is clearly a second one. The group has been reconciling the two ever since, which has created a dynamic I truly love.

I can't break Confusion is Sex up into separate song impressions. I can't even reassess under any circumstance. I just have to look at this record or hear a single note from it, and I'm transposed back to my suburban bedroom in '84 or '85 when my 17 or 18 year old self was flipping the radio dial around and came upon a college station for the first time at the tail end of "She's in a Bad Mood". Nothing was ever the same again after that.
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Old 09.01.2007, 04:47 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dead-Air
I can't break Confusion is Sex up into separate song impressions. I can't even reassess under any circumstance. I just have to look at this record or hear a single note from it, and I'm transposed back to my suburban bedroom in '84 or '85 when my 17 or 18 year old self was flipping the radio dial around and came upon a college station for the first time at the tail end of "She's in a Bad Mood". Nothing was ever the same again after that.

I know exactly what you mean. Definitely the most difficult album of theirs to try and look back on with any kind of objectivity. I think I'd have the same problem with everything up to DDN basically. Those albums are sort of too tied up with personal growing up stuff. Much easier for me to look at the later Geffen stuff, when the band had far less of a personal significance for me.

CIS is just this awesome big black thing in my life. Always has been, probably always will be.
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Old 09.01.2007, 07:30 AM   #4
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their best album. nothing else to say.
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Old 09.01.2007, 11:58 AM   #5
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i think this is one of those albums that don't need reassessing, it's just perfect and always been.
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Old 09.01.2007, 12:05 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Everyneurotic
i think this is one of those albums that don't need reassessing, it's just perfect and always been.

But it doesn't have "Kool Thing"!
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Old 09.01.2007, 12:17 PM   #7
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it also doesn't have rain on tin or 'cross the breeze.

it's perfect as it is, doesn't mean it's their only perfect moment.
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Old 09.01.2007, 12:36 PM   #8
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--I know Sonic Youth is considered an EP, but I can't possibly think of --Confusion Is Sex as their first album. The self-titled record was very much a statement of intent, though Confusion is clearly a second one. The group has been reconciling the two ever since, which has created a dynamic I truly love.--

His Holiness, The Reverend Dead-Air


I've talked about this and related matters on several occasions. Sonic Youth's discography is one of those where everything becomes cloudy according to classification. The first self-titled release is offically classified as their first album, while SYR releases that run as much as 50+ minutes are classified only as EPs. Then there are both 7" and 12" singles and EPs that play at 33 RPM, a double album that plays at 45, a 10" that plays backwards, a cassette that plays backwards songs forward...(you get the picture). And I won't even bring up the subject of format availability: full-length albums and major EPs (e.g. Master-Dik, Diamond Sea, Silver Sessions, SYR6, Melbourne Direct, two of Thurston's recent solo pieces) released inexplicably only on CD or LP or Cassette.
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Old 09.01.2007, 12:39 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Everyneurotic
it also doesn't have rain on tin or 'cross the breeze.

it's perfect as it is, doesn't mean it's their only perfect moment.


I was making a funny--or trying to. Remember how you mocked my "pretentiousness", and sarcastically said you only understood the simpler, commercial stuff like "Kool Thing"?
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Old 09.01.2007, 01:56 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by demonrail666
I know exactly what you mean. Definitely the most difficult album of theirs to try and look back on with any kind of objectivity. I think I'd have the same problem with everything up to DDN basically. Those albums are sort of too tied up with personal growing up stuff. Much easier for me to look at the later Geffen stuff, when the band had far less of a personal significance for me.

CIS is just this awesome big black thing in my life. Always has been, probably always will be.

Actually Washing Machine is way more like that for me, in terms of tied into personal baggage, than Confusion. I went through a divorce listening to Washing Machine and In Utero both constantly, with a healthy helping of Why Do They Call Me Mr. Happy by NoMeansNo thrown in. Some records welcome emotional baggage whole heartedly.
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Old 09.01.2007, 02:17 PM   #12
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I can't "reassess" this one. It's too perfect to try.
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Old 09.01.2007, 03:25 PM   #13
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great record.
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Old 09.01.2007, 03:45 PM   #14
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stunning record. don't know what to say about it. i remember writing a long-ass review of it for amazon once, trying to be poetic and trying to mirror the albums style in my own writing, but the best i can manage now is "fucking immense".

love your rural/horror comparison, dr666. that's such an accurate description of this album (and probably bad moon rising too).

in fact, does anyone know anything about this?

http://youtube.com/results?search_qu...earch=S earch

it seems to be rurally set. was anyone there? i envy you if so.
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Old 09.01.2007, 10:18 PM   #15
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Their most "punk" album, and also their best.
fantastic.
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Old 09.01.2007, 10:25 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dressedindreams
Their most "punk" album, and also their best.
fantastic.


Punk...? Sorry. It's definitely one of their best, but punk? Far from it. It's more akin to goth and the darker side of late '60s/early '70s rock, if you ask me.
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Old 09.01.2007, 10:50 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deadrockstar

in fact, does anyone know anything about this?

http://youtube.com/results?search_query=jamboree+sonic+youth&search=S earch

it seems to be rurally set. was anyone there? i envy you if so.
As far as I know.. the Gila Monster Jamboree was a big.. sort of music festival in the Mojave Desert.
http://www.sonicyouth.com/mustang/cc/010585.html

Almost all of those videos are courtesy of CHOUT. What a guy!
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Old 09.02.2007, 03:42 AM   #18
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This album was the one that introduced me to SY. I can't fault it. It is the most barbaric, obnoxious slab of genius commited to vinyl.
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Old 09.02.2007, 04:18 AM   #19
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The intro to the first song I wrote using alternative tunings ended up sounding too much like the intro to Confusion Is Next completely by accident. I should record it as a cover version is the rest of the tune is different and more upbeat.
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Old 09.02.2007, 01:59 PM   #20
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This album scared me when I first heard it.

I love the whole thing, but I consider Shaking Hell the masterpiece of the album.6
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