Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sonic Youth - Murray Street

It took me a long time to figure Sonic Youth out. Probably longer than any other band. I'm still not sure it was worth the time. Early on, when I would listen to a Sonic Youth record and enjoy maybe 7% of it, Steve Shelley was enough to keep me interested through that other 93%. Now that I can actually take in a Sonic Youth record for what it is, I still find the way he plays drums fascinating. He is the most calculated drummer there is. Sometimes he is intentionally sloppy, but he plays the part so well it's incredible. It's like seeing Anthony Hopkins play a bum.

The first Sonic Youth record I ever got though fully (and actually liked instantly) was Murray Street. I think other records have better songs, but Murray Street was really the point where everything sort of clicked on, and a lot of it had to do with Steve's drumming.

The Empty Page has some cool sparse patterns in the verses and awesome layered cymbal work in the following parts. Disconnection Notice is laid back, loose and perfectly textured playing, the high hats and snares are spattered through out, with little flourishes to keep everything in motion.

Shelley can stay in the background for long periods of time. With the long improvised noise parts that come with being in Sonic Youth, someone has to hold everything down. That doesn't mean he doesn't mix it up with the rest of them though, Karenology dissolves into a mass of free time playing, eventually becoming very ambient. Shelley disintegrates his drumming perfectly, breaking things down at the same rate as the others.

I don't know if I can really take credit for being a big Sonic Youth fan just yet. I still only like about 55% of what I hear, but the numbers keep rising at a steady rate. I'll keep at it, if everyone put as much time into digesting albums as I had to in order to like Sonic Youth, the music business would be a completely different monster.

Audio/Visual Evidence : Disconnection Notice, The Empty Page

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