193. teenage riot

Being the lead-off track from maybe the greatest album ever in the history of anything. Sonic Youth get political, make their demands explicit as to what it’s going to take to get them the f*** out of bed and deliver the goods. A full-on teenage riot and nothing less. Which may be inappropriate, wrong even, but f*** is it fun to tear up main street, smash all the windows, not get caught! Which by the end of Teenage Riot is exactly what’s going on – Misters Moore and Renaldo annihilating frequencies with their magic guitars, smashing every window and door, setting all humanity free for a while. Even the adults. The rhythm section’s not half bad either.

SonicYouth-live-1989(image source)

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329. silver rocket

Silver Rocket may well be the perfect Sonic Youth nugget. On one level, it’s a ripping cool pop song about riding a silver rocket, I guess, or perhaps heroin. On another, it’s a metaphysical hand grenade that blows a gaping hole through the reality barrier into the next nineteen dimensions. And it accomplishes all of this in barely three minutes.” (Philip Random)

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441. total trash

“The song part of Total Trash is cool enough, but part two is what makes it essential – the noise part, what happens when the various rules of music break down and pure escape velocity takes over. I remember seeing Sonic Youth perform this live in maybe 1991 and having one of those profound and prolonged WOW moments that I can’t help calling religious. I remember thinking, they aren’t really playing this music, they’re just channeling it, deflecting it, aiming it, wrestling with it. It’s like they’ve punched a hole in a cosmic dike and suddenly it’s all just about containment. But not even that. Because this kind of flood can’t be contained. All you can really do is ride it, keep moving, keep playing, because if you don’t, you’ll get dragged under, and where’s the glory in that?” (Philip Random)

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591. ‘cross the breeze

“If Daydream Nation (Sonic Youth’s best album) is one prolonged exercise in applied escape velocity, ‘Cross the Breeze is one of those prolonged moments where it gets furthest from the ground. I’m pretty sure I saw them do it live in late 1987 sometime, long before the album came out. It was a Sunday night show, and those are almost always duds, the audience too spent from the weekend’s extremes to actually move. But Sonic Youth launched us all anyway, ripped holes through our souls and scattered them ‘cross the breeze. It’s true.” (Philip Random)

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879. Hey Joni

“A Sonic Youth song about Joni Mitchell (or so I think I read somewhere years ago), found on 1988’s Daydream Nation, a four-sided psychedelic monster if there ever was one (even if it did show up in a most un-psychedelic year). Or whatever. I’ve always had trouble putting words to Daydream Nation kicking as it did through all the gloom and permafrost of its time, like an unexpected future full of cool and fierce and infinitely complex noise, and in that complexity hope, I guess. Because I did need it.” (Philip Random)

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910. kissability

“Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation being arguably The Greatest Album Ever assuming you don’t mind a pile of noise mixed up with your raw yet mystical guitar stylings, Kissability being the kind of nugget that would’ve torn the charts apart in a better, cooler world. But good luck with that in the Winter of Hate, which is to say, 1988. Twenty years on from the Summer of Love, and trust that it rained every f***ing day. Nothing else to do but daydream.” (Philip Random)

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