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SONIC YOUTH

Dirty
Rating: 2 (library disc)
   I've always suspected that noise bands have something to cover up - if you're proud of your music, why make noise? - but now I know what: dull songwriting. For an allegedly ground-breaking band, Sonic Youth covers a lot of old territory here.
   Mainly, the riffs simply recycle the worst ideas of seventies hard rock, playing obvious progressions based on the circle of fifths. I swear, there are more interesting Kiss tunes. When they're not busy raiding the vaults of Foghat, they're pounding out unlistenable bursts of noise like "Nic Fit."
   A couple moments of pretty guitar playing come through, with chords suitable for a White Lion power ballad on "Drunken Butterfly." I wish I could say the same for the vocals, but they alternate between sub-Courtney Love female screaming, and uncharismatic tenor vocals - is this guy even trying to sound interested?
   I did enjoy the drummer - his swinging style is the last thing I expected under these riffs and lent an openness to otherwise claustrophobic arrangements.
   I must say, I'm more surprised than disappointed. You see, I expected to hate this record, but not for any of the reasons I did. Where did this band get their reputation as avant-garde progressivists? Maybe from folks who don't actually listen to rock music.

READER COMMENTS
  • From ōystein: For what it's worth, that Sonic Youth album you reviewed is possibly their very worst. I'm pretty fond of the band, but can hardly even stand that boring piece of junk. That band's "avant garde" hype tends to come from the earlier material, which tends to be very Glenn Branca influenced. Noisy and cozy, but not overly so. Hijokaidan they are not :)

  • From Cole Bozman: I have this album (don't you hate it when you buy something for 50 cents and still feel ripped off?), and as much as I slag these guys, I have to say I quite like "100%". It's a bopping little riff-rocker that actually seems to contain a hint of melody. Otherwise, if I want to listen to feedback, I'll just pull out my guitar and lean it against the amplifier.

  • From Trevor Evans-Young: Your review of Dirty is an insult. People like you guys and the fools who talked about that album bad are being very insulting to one of the greatest albums ever, even though it is nowhere near SY's best. Sonic Youth uses noise, but that is not all they use. They also have great lyrics, even though they are random sometimes, and they also have great originality. I guess you'd rather hear Bob Dylan rant about pointless crap (Highway 61 is his most overrated album), so that is your business, but you can't get away with giving Dirty a 2/10 without getting called an idiot who just doesn't get it, so I recommend another listen.

  • From Justin Nierenhausen: First off, out of all the review sites I've seen yours is easily the wittiest and most readable. Now that I've got that out of the way I'd like to say that I enjoyed your review of Dirty, although I don't agree with it. I don't actually have any ground to stand on here really since I've only heard one of their albums, not even the one in question, but I personally enjoy this band immensely. The dueling guitars, the flowing lyrics (even if they are throwaway), hell, I even enjoy Kimís tone-deaf screams and hisses. I do see exactly where youíre coming from and understand that it would be pretty easy to hate this band, but I like how you didn't just completely blow off the drums, which is easily the best part of the band. No matter how much you hate these guys you would never be able to say "and those drums, ugh!"

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