Tag Archives: Sonic Youth

Chelsea Light Moving “S/T”

Chelsea Light Moving

“S/T”

[Matador; 2013]

Rating: 7.8

I was beginning to think Thurston Moore had gone soft on us.  Don’t get me wrong, his softer side is nothing to scoff about.  His two solo albums from the past five years have been intimate, atmospheric listens, and Sonic Youth’s two releases in the past decade have been much more stripped down in comparison to the days of Dirty and Goo.  But with his recent divorce with band mate Kim Gordon (and probable break-up of Sonic Youth), it seems Thurston has reconnected with his distortion pedal, stirring up the ashes of his bratty brand of disorder on his new project, Chelsea Light Moving.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Album Review

Lee Ranaldo “Between the Times and the Tides”

Lee Ranaldo

“Between the Times and the Tides”

[Matador; 2012]

Rating: 8

I thought I had Sonic Youth pegged. Thurston Moore is the melody maker, Kim Gordon brings a seedy punk-rock edge, and Lee Ranaldo produces the experimental explorations. Their powers combined result in the band’s distinctive sound. But on Ranaldo’s latest solo album, “Between the Times and Tides,” he has me rethinking everything. Not only is it not experimental, it is closer to traditional pop music than anything found within Sonic Youth’s 25 year catalog of music (yes, twenty-five years!).

Ranaldo’s past solo albums primarily consisted of soft, acoustic driven experiments.  This time around, Ranaldo uses his Jazzmaster to help escape the uncertainty surrounding Sonic Youth with the recent divorce of Moore and Gordon. And where does he escape to? The sounds of his youth.

Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Album Review, Best New Albums

Honky-Tonk Angel

Every 4th of July that I’m back in Iowa, my mom and I take a trip over to Okoboji to peruse the flea markets.  This year was no different with my mom and I making the annual trip over to the lakes to walk past table after table of rusted signs, antique china, and baseball cards (a Texas flea market is much different in content, usually featuring used clothing, black market DVDs, and economy-sized boxes of Chiclets).

As a toddler I went with because I had to, as did my brothers, but as we got older, my siblings quit going while I continued tagging along with my mom.  While my mom has always gone in search of what ever rusty gold she can find, I’ve went over the years for different reasons. In middle school I searched for David Robinson cards to add to my collection (today, my 150 Robinson card collection is probably worth a buck fifty).  After college I still willingly went along, now searching for old pint glasses (Schlitz, PBR, Hamm’s, etc), but this collection petered out when I realized that pint glasses aren’t much fun without beer inside them.  The past few years I’ve gone with my mom just for tradition’s sake, but this year I had a new collection in the works: vinyl.

Writing this blog made me curious and I was pleasantly surprised to see that a Robinson rookie card goes for around 20 dollars.

You would think being a music enthusiast I would have jumped on the vinyl train long ago, but I always found myself blindly satisfied with CDs.  This of course all changed with the dawning of the i-Pod.  I found myself buying CDs that I’d rip to my computer and never touch again.  As much as it pained me, I realized I needed to move to MP3s. They’re more eco-friendly and don’t fill up shelves at the house. Despite this realization, I couldn’t make the switch. The idea of paying money for something you can’t tangibly hold in your hands didn’t set well with me. Plus, I couldn’t part with the experience of reading the liner notes, analyzing the lyrics, and exploring the artwork.

When I discovered many labels now include download codes with their vinyl, I found a solution: not only was I still getting the MP3s, but I got the added bonus of having a bigger package to adore. Plus, when listening to the music at home, I always opt to hear it on the record player because it just sounds so much more better.

This shift to vinyl soon became an obsession, and now I’ve slipped into the role of record collector.  Despite the lack of free MP3 downloads with used LPs by Charlie Parker, Run DMC, and Willie Nelson, I couldn’t help myself but to hear the classics in the form that they were meant to be heard.  Being a new hobby, this was my first year searching out old records at the flea market, and I left with 20 albums including Black Sabbath’s “Sabotage,” Stevie Wonder’s “Songs in the Key of Life,” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Smash Hits,” the album that changed my life as a 14-year-old kid.

The album my mom found at the flea market

While scouring the tables of boxes, my mom looked around to pass the time. At one point she walked over to me with an album in hand.  “I remember this Kitty Wells album from when I was a kid. I used to love the song ‘Honky Tonk Angels.’ My brother used to play it all the time.”  The mention of her brother Gary caught me off guard. Gary drowned 13 days after his 21st birthday back in 1962.  My mom witnessed it. As you can imagine, this was pretty hard on her.  As always with music, that record brought memories back to the surface.

I encouraged my mom to buy the album, and she did.  As we walked on through the tables of antiques, mom continued discussing my uncle’s love of music. It seemed the sight of that old record had dusted off memories she’d not visited for a while. She talked about the huge collection of records he bought over the years with the money he earned as a barber. She remembered all the concerts he used to head into town to see: Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty, Patsy Cline.

My mom still has some of the signed photos he bring home for her as a kid including this Patsy Cline. Unfortunately, they got water damaged in a basement.

Something about it all seemed eerily similar, and I knew why.  The pile of records, the concerts, the love of music – it all added up. Driving home, one question haunted me: how could my Uncle Gary, a man I never knew, be so much like me?  Yes, his love of music rubbed off on my mom who raised my brothers and I on a steady diet of Joni Mitchell and Buffalo Springfield, but to the level that Uncle Gary did? The level that I do?

I began to question my thoughts.  How could I possibly even get my uncle’s music-obsession gene? Where did he even get it? My grandpa, who took over the farm at age 14, never seemed to be a music fanatic, and my grandma listened exclusively to the Statler Brothers (“Mama Sang Bass” will forever bring me back to riding in my grandma’s car).  Maybe the music-obsession gene skips generations and somewhere 100 years back one of my ancestors was as obsessed with John Phillip Sousa as I am with Sonic Youth.

Sonic Youth with Sousa on the drums.

Back at home, I continued thinking about Gary with my questions moving away from “Why?” to “What if?”.  What would he be like today? How would my life be different if I had known him? Would he have regaled me with stories of meeting Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline?  What would he have thought of Bob Dylan? Neil Young? Iggy Pop? All unanswered questions.

A week later, these thoughts would still circle my brain like a needle on a record. It didn’t help that my mom left the Kitty Wells record sitting on the kitchen counter, and each time I saw Kitty’s face looking back at me, I couldn’t help but think of Gary.  I finally decided to listen to the album that had raised so many memories for my mom and so many questions for me.

I put the needle on the vinyl like I’ve done so many times before, and listened to the crackling of the record. I wonder if he enjoyed that sound as much as me – the anticipation that comes with it.  And then Kitty Wells appeared.  Her voice wasn’t beautiful by any means. Nasally, a tad flat, yet it didn’t bother me. In fact, I liked it; there was substance to it. It had soul. And soon, that emotive voice filled the rooms and halls of my parents’ house while filling the void of uncertainty in my mind.  No, I never knew Uncle Gary; but in that moment, I knew that he still somehow lived within that music and within me – my honky-tonk guardian angel.

Uncle Gary with my mom and Aunt Sally up above on the rocks.

2 Comments

Filed under Music Ramblings

Video Clip of the Week: St. Vincent does Big Black

Over Christmas, I met up with my friend SongsSuck for a few drinks, and our discussion got into books. He asked me to list my top 10 favorite books of all time.  As I tried coming up with my list, one book kept popping into my head: This Band Could Be Your Life by Michael Azerrad. At first, I resisted listing this title, trying to focus on the classics, but again and again the book kept creeping into my brain. I knew why. This one book had such a profound affect on me and my love for indie music, that I dare to say that this book could change your life.  It did mine.

You can’t help but be changed by the stories of bands like Sonic Youth, Minor Threat, The Replacements, and Black Flag and how they were able create music that was original and honest without any money backing their efforts. To this day I reference moments from the book, whether it be the tumultuous relationship between Lou Barlow and J. Mascis or the untimely death of D. Boon. This book shows you music at its rawest form and gives you insight into the trials and tribulations these kids dealt with as they took their four-track garage rock and made it into something legendary.  Our Band Could Be Your Life is the indie rock bible; no question about it.

Yesterday, to mark the ten-year anniversary of the book, a show was put on at the Bowery Room consisting of current indie bands covering bands from the book, just another testament to the staying power of the book.  While I enjoyed the clips from the show I saw of Ted Leo, tUnE-yArDs, and Titus Andronicus, it was St. Vincent covering Big Black that blew me away. I’ve never gotten any St. Vincent and never had any desire. What I’ve heard has never really peaked my interest, but after seeing their take on Big Black, I’m all in.

Their incredible performance “Kerosene”:

Leave a comment

Filed under Video Clips

Video Clip of the Week: Mike Watt joined on stage

I guess you could say that Mike Watt changed everything for me.  Back when I was 15, my older brother took me up to St. Paul, Minnesota to see Primus, and opening for Les Claypool’s band was a fellow master of the bass, Mr. Mike Watt and his band.  At the time I didn’t know who Mike Watt was, nor did I know of The Minutemen; my journey into the world of punk rock was in its early stages. Regardless, I still distinctly remember the opening boom of Watt’s bass as he violently punched his low E string with a resounding pluck of his finger.

My brother and I would both go on to purchasing Mike Watt’s star-studded “Ball-Hog or Tug Boat” featuring guest stars such as J. Mascis, Frank Black, Mark Lanegan, Sonic Youth, and Henry Rollins.  To say this was an introduction to the world of indie would be an understatement.

Since then, Watt’s released several more solo albums without the assistance of star power, but last week during a live performance in Seattle, Eddie Vedder, Dave Grohl, and Pat Smear, fellow “Ball-Hog or Tug Boat” guests, came onto the stage and performed a 10 minute jam version “Big Train” (a classic from the “Ball-Hog or Tug Boat” album). Despite the camera man’s incessent declaration of shock, it’s pretty cool to see these big names paying their respects to a true legend.

Leave a comment

Filed under Video Clips

End of Summer Albums 2010

Summer’s almost over.  But that makes this even more pertinent.  And it’s not like the value of these great albums will diminish in the first few days of fall—although we may have to do another one for autumn.  We decided to do this after Android50’s Best Summer Albums of 2010. Not that we hated the list or the music of 2010.  Our input just wasn’t asked for, like Android50 had some sort of monopoly on summer tunes.  So here is our list, no restrictions, just albums we have been listening to this summer.  Looking through it, it gets me all excited, as it just might turn some on to some new tunes.  As for me, Kid Kilowatt took my Jawbox (I love Novelty), but besides that Iggy Pop’s first two solo albums (Lust for Life & the Idiot) are great to bike around to and have been in heavy rotation, Yo La Tengo have made a huge comeback (I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One) would be perfect for this time of year and autumn, but it was played constantly this summer as well.  I got hooked on Will Oldham’s Palace incarnations, especially Viva Last Blues and Sleater-Kinney (especially One Beat & All Hands on the Bad One)  once again—it had been a while.  Oxbow, Beach House (an obvious pick), Smog, Destroyer (City of Daughters is soooooo good), Dinosaur Jr.’s Beyond, Guided by Voices, High on Fire, Modest Mouse (I think I have Songssuck to blame for this one, as he made me revisit Moon & Antarctica due to the 2000 list), My Morning Jacket (their first three, don’t talk to me about them after that), Neurosis, Mastodon, and the Woods made up the majority of my playlists this summer.

Of course the start of the summer saw me listening to nothing but Isis, Dio and Black Sabbath.  It was a sad time for a while.  But I said goodbye to Dio and Isis in my own way, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still miss them.  Lots of stuff to check and revisit (for some reason the 90s were in VERY heavy rotation this summer, hum), enjoy what’s left of the nice weather with these great picks!

Emitt Rhodes

s/t
(ABC/Dunhill Records: 1970)

8.6

Being a big Paul McCartney fan I was hesitant to try Pthestudp’s recommendation of this album. I started to hear about it in other places, and Pthestudp insisted we listen to it.  Forgive me, I should have proponent of Emitt long ago.  The McCartney comparison is unavoidable, as even his voice sounds like Sir McCartneys.  But unlike Paul’s work with Wings, these songs never veer towards overkill and are brilliant.  His four solo albums have been re-released, but it was his self-titled debut that one HAS to have in their collection.  Perfect summer listening.  – Suzy Creamcheese

Unwound

Fake Train/New Plastic Ideas/The Future of What/Repetition/ Challenge for a Civilized Society/Leaves Turn Inside You
(Kill Rock Stars: 1993/94/95/96/98/01)

Really I could have picked any Unwound album (and I did).  They are all fantastic.  Start with the beginning, (93’s Fake Train) if you wish.  I have always told people Unwound are Sonic Youth plus Fugazi.  And I don’t fucken lie about shit like that.  So fucking underrated it pisses me off. – Songssuck


Gandalf

s/t

(Capitol Records: 1969)

8.4

Psychedelic, poppy, spooky—this one, in a sea of lost 60’s artifacts, stands out as being legit. No hype here, these guys have it.  I dig it out every summer and it is a required listen on summer road trips, with no one I have played it for not being enchanted and won over. – Willie Rambo Strider


Fennesz

Endless Summer

(Mego: 2001)

9.1

I play this album over and over again.  Guitars processed & distorted beyond recognition.  The sounds come from summer, but not summer on this planet.  Summer in a much better time and place. Summer somewhere, when it rains, it rains drops of warm sunshine.  Though maybe, this place is just a summery state of mind. – Tyrannosaurus Banks

Leo Cuypers

Heavy Days Are Here Again

(BVHaast: 1981)

AK-47

I wanted to highlight this one during our ‘Best of 2000’ list, but Songssuck said absolutely no reissues.  So here we are, with an unheard of classic from 1981.  Have you ever seen those ‘Live, Laugh, Love’ posters/decorations?  Well, those schmucks should just hang this LP on their wall instead, because this album is just bursting at the seams with the exuberant energy from those three entities.  Pthestudp described it as Schroeder’s soundtrack to Charlie Brown losing his virginity on a roller coaster to Lucy.  Fuck yah! –Tyrannosaurus Banks

Band of Horses

Cease to Begin
(Sub Pop: 2007)

8.5

I did me some listening to the Band of Horses this summer.  Reminds me a bit of old My Morning Jacket, lots of grandiosity, lots of reverb, guitars making the night sky seem small.  Pretty great.  –Dr. Anonymous

Borbetomagus

Barbed Wire Maggots
(Agaric: 1982)

AK-47

Fierce.  Free.  Uncompromising.  Because something has to be.  The problem is most people go into this album looking for jazz.  This ain’t jazz.  It’s the sound of a herd of wild stallions that have never seen a harness.  And the fuck if these ones ever will. –Kid Kilowatt

Cold Sun

Dark Shadows
(World in Sound: 1973)

Deserves its Holy Grail status.

Roky Erickson fronting Pavement.  Captain Beefheart jamming with the Grateful Dead.  Good shit. – Ho Chi Unser Jr.

Jawbox

Novelty/For Your Own Special Sweetheart
(Dischord Records: 1992/Atlantic: 1994)

These are classics, one cannot rate a classic.

For these two, Jawbox may have become mightier than their labelmates, Fugazi.  Some songs on these two remind me of The Jesus Lizard, but Jawbox were always Big Blackier then Minor Threaty.  I like Novelty better than their major label debut (I know, I know, probably wouldn’t have been possible without major label money, but I would like to hear it with more balls), but both are essential 90s documents.  Make sure you take them both with you when rock climbing.  –Kid Kilowatt

Leave a comment

Filed under Top Albums Lists