Monday, July 27, 2009

Rock of Ages: Sonic Youth - "Teen Age Riot" (1988)

Sonic Youth is an undeniably influential band. Their output in the 80s was mixed between noise and post punk. The latter age of the 80's saw a masterpiece melding their raw, morphing blend of melody and dissonance into a beautiful epic of an album called Daydream Nation. In terms of 1988, this album was literally about 10 or more years ahead of its time. Not much else around that time sounded quite like Sonic Youth. Album opener and stunning epic "Teen Age Riot" gets things started. With a minute or so slow intro that quickly builds into a frantic and borderline distorted and clean guitar riff, the song chugs into full gear. Front man Thurston Moore croons his tale of teenage dissidents who are just not going anywhere. Musically the song comes to an intense build after about 5 minutes where the drums and bass go on a frenzy and become fully engulfed into the haze of the guitars. It's a confusing, hazy and beautiful riot of a breakdown.

Sonic Youth went on to major labels after this record, and it's by no surprise as even a sprawling 6 minute anthem like "Teen Age Riot" is just as grounded in pop music as it is in avante garde rock. It was the first big song for Sonic Youth when they released the single and came to more prominence when they signed with Geffen and dropped the records Goo and Dirty. The influence of Sonic Youth was much like the influence of The Velvet Underground in the 60's. Although commercially they didn't stride in their earlier years, they broke boundries and wrote some of the best music of there era. Of course, luckily for Sonic Youth, they are still a viable band releasing records. They have matured in sound a bit, but their melding of genres is still notable.

Up Next: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds see Jesus in their soup

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