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Old 10.06.2012, 09:58 PM   #1
nancykitten
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I've been having a debate about this, so I thought the best place to get feedback would be here.

Do you consider Sister to be an alternative rock album?

My opinion is that the term "alternative rock" wasn't used until early in the 1990's -- particularly after Nirvana expolded -- so claiming that an album released in '87 is "alt rock" is just lazy.

SST wasn't an 'alt rock label' -- it was a hardcore label. If you have to label Sister as anything, why not label it as hardcore, or post-hardcore? Or even 'indie', which is what a lot of people called Sonic Youth-like music, until "indie" became synonymous with British major label pop in the mid 90's.

Sister definitely helped define what would become alt. rock in the 1990's, but claiming it's alt. rock is like claiming The VU & Nico is 'punk rock'.

This is probably not the most interesting debate ever, but never mind (or Nevermind?)
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Old 10.07.2012, 07:16 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nancykitten
My opinion is that the term "alternative rock" wasn't used until early in the 1990's -- particularly after Nirvana expolded -- so claiming that an album released in '87 is "alt rock" is just lazy.

see in that case, the trick is to call it "proto-alt rock".
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Old 10.07.2012, 11:28 AM   #3
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It is often hard to define genres of music, especially alternative rock. What is it an alternative to? Mainstream, top 40 rock? But I don't think it matters when the phrase "alternative rock" was first used. Sometimes, we don't come up with names for things until after those things are established. The phrase "global warming" might not have existed until recently. But does that mean it wasn't happening until someone came up with a name for it?

I would say that Sister, just like VU in the late 60's, fits my definition of alternative rock. It sounded nothing like the average person's concept of rock music back then and probably still doesn't. Imagine what would have happened if someone had tried playing Sister at a high school dance.
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Old 10.07.2012, 12:50 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nancykitten
My opinion is that the term "alternative rock" wasn't used until early in the 1990's -- particularly after Nirvana expolded -- so claiming that an album released in '87 is "alt rock" is just lazy.

nirvana is "punk rock", don't you know? "alt rock" can be used since "bad moon rising" at least. and "sister" and "sonic nurse" are not indie but classic rocking
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Old 10.07.2012, 01:24 PM   #5
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nancycat, you're right. This is a boring debate.

But I will say I miss the genre label "college rock." Whatever happened to that?
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Old 10.07.2012, 01:33 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by evollove
But I will say I miss the genre label "college rock." Whatever happened to that?

died with the pixies
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Old 10.07.2012, 03:06 PM   #7
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so what do you call sonic youth's style of music?
when people ask me i say either punk rock or noise rock (depending on who i'm talking to)
but i also find myself describing other music as "kind of sonic youth-y" which i guess means more to do with an attitude toward music rather than an actual sound. focusing on texture and colour as much as melody or lyrics. its deeper than rock music, people often say on here how spiritual they find sy music

sonic youth is a philosophy man!!
sonic life etc
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Old 10.07.2012, 03:17 PM   #8
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Sonic Youth is a rock band. A great rock band.
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Old 10.07.2012, 03:50 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chrome noise tape
died with the pixies

And after they reunited, what sort of music did they play?
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Old 10.07.2012, 07:30 PM   #10
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Noise rock
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Old 10.08.2012, 01:26 PM   #11
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Yeah, if you've got to subgenerize SY they are a noise rock band for sure. Who even talks about things being alternative nowadays anyway?
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Old 10.08.2012, 03:50 PM   #12
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Back in the early 80's, bands like SY were called "College rock" because college radio stations (remember those?) were the ones that exposed most of these acts, at least to the airwaves. That term does not signiofy the sound of the bands though.
Then, that type of music was called "post-modern" rock, which is just pretentious as fuck, but kind of made you think it was some sort of advancement on the genero-arena-rock of the late 70's and early 80's. It still described nothing about the music, and lumped together bands like PIL, Jesus & Mary Chain, Pixies, sisters of mercy, who sounded nothing alike.
Then, someone decided to call the shit "alternative" rock, which was more correct as to the place those bands found themselves in, because they were not being played on regular rock radio. they were an "alternative" to the radio bands, in a sense.
None of it defined a musical sound. These terms were all basically political definitions.

Maybe these terms defined the spirit of the acts, but what most of them were playing was just rock music with rock instrumentation. SY may have taken the dissonance of rock, already found in Hendrix, and VU, and countless others, and upped the ante on it, constructing songs composed mostly of dissonance and chaos, but they are still a rock band, drawing from the fountain of past rock.

when people ask what you listen to do what I say. "I listen to good music."
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Old 10.08.2012, 04:00 PM   #13
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You convinced me. Rock it is.

Swirl these two sentences around in the mouth:

"Sister is a great alternative album." (or post-college-noise-whateverthefuck)

"Sister is a great rock album."

The second one is better, no?
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Old 10.08.2012, 04:57 PM   #14
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mucho better.
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Old 10.08.2012, 05:07 PM   #15
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Noise Rock
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Old 10.08.2012, 05:44 PM   #16
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Its hard to ask hardcore Sonic Youth fans a question like this, most of us adore much of the full 30 year spectrum of what they produced, and alot of us would draw a line stylistically from some of the songs from NYC Ghosts & Flowers directly back to songs from their first EP. For me thats a more important context in which to understand the stuff inbetween. Everything since that album for me has always felt like a very different group (Jim O Rourke joining contributed alot to that as well).
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Old 10.08.2012, 06:14 PM   #17
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this is a real thread?
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Old 10.08.2012, 07:01 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SonicBebs
so what do you call sonic youth's style of music?
when people ask me i say either punk rock or noise rock (depending on who i'm talking to)
but i also find myself describing other music as "kind of sonic youth-y" which i guess means more to do with an attitude toward music rather than an actual sound. focusing on texture and colour as much as melody or lyrics. its deeper than rock music, people often say on here how spiritual they find sy music

sonic youth is a philosophy man!!
sonic life etc

I never accepted the idea of Sonic Youth (or Television, for that matter) being considered punk rock. Again, the definition of "punk rock" is fairly subjective, but to me, "punk rock" implies simplicity. There is nothing simple about the music of Sonic Youth. Can you imagine Johnny Ramone touring with 20 guitars because the songs are in so many different tunings? Can you imagine him sitting in the studio late at night adding all sorts of little guitar fills and textures, as Lee did during the recording of Daydream Nation?
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Old 10.08.2012, 07:02 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noisereductions
this is a real thread?

Real enough that you contributed to it.
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Old 10.09.2012, 02:36 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Magic Wheel Memory
Again, the definition of "punk rock" is fairly subjective, but to me, "punk rock" implies simplicity. There is nothing simple about the music of Sonic Youth

this might be another thread but for me Punk is more about Freedom than Simplicity.
The freedom to play really simple music. To play really fast music. to go out in your van and drive up and down the country playing really small shows to your friends. the freedom to put a drumstick in the frets and play your guitar with a powerdrill. to go freeform and realease improv noise albums. to record a pop album.

but the majority of people dont think about it this much and when you say "punk" they think of the sex pistols or siouxie and the banshees or those London Postcard punks with huge pink mohicans. or even fucking green day. And sonic youth are pretty far from that
similiairly if you say "rock" to most people they think of Queen or kings of leon/foo fighters. And sonic youth are as far from that as possible

so yeah, maybe noise rock
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