“Three in a row from Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation, the suite known as Trilogy. Because it’s that kind of album. Crucial for both the culture as a whole (I think), and me in particular (I know). Because there it was, late 1988, the Winter of Hate, things having fallen apart (it’s a long story). I’m flat on my back on the bedroom floor, my parents place (another long story), so-called grown man doing yet another season in hell, recovering from various injuries and afflictions (self-inflicted and otherwise), too spent for anything but this prolonged commitment to nothingness … which could only be filled it seems by the sprawl of one monster of an album. Which was perfect really. If you’re only going to have just one album at the end of 1988, hard rains a-falling (metaphorically and otherwise), it may as well be the four sides of music and noise inseparable known as Daydream Nation, reminding you that the biggest truths have no boundaries, the most important stories never quite add up, the best songs never quite hold together, always yearning for, grasping for, gunning for MORE … and thus they are defined as much by the chaos at their edges as the calm at their centres (or is the other way around?).
The Trilogy from Side Four gets nod here, because it’s the final climax of an album that’s full of them. Guy wanders the sprawl, gets high, likely something psychedelic because he’s truly seeing the wonder in things (The Wonder), but then comes the long slow descent, the long walk home. He runs into some jocks, gets his shit kicked, ends up fading into nothingness (Hyperstation). And then who knows what happens? Except shit erupts. Like a god damned top alcohol dragster tearing up the quarter mile, fumes so intense they cause a rare local breed of starling to go extinct. (Eliminator Jr) Life is a nuclear eruption. A chain reaction daydream that never ends. That’s my impression anyway. What’s yours?” (Philip Random)
The lead-off track from maybe the greatest album ever in the history of anything, Teenage Riot is where 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.
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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)