Saturday, January 22, 2011

It feels like it should today

On February 15th, Sonic Youth is re-pressing the vinyl of Bad Moon Rising. This will make all of their early work (Sonic Youth, Confusion is Sex, EVOL, and Sister) freely available on wax for the first time in a long time. While I doubt I'll be snagging the bundle, I will at the very least snag Sister, my favorite album of theirs to date. Go get your copies here.

These reissues have got me thinking about the trajectory of their career, from the Can and Glenn Branca-inspired beginnings to their current position as a cultural institution. The 1980s, when they began, were much more violently experimental. Punk rock had come and gone, and for all of those bands flirting with Anarchy, most proved to be interested in playing no-bullshit rock and roll, which wasn't a bad thing.

From the begining, Sonic Youth had a different idea in mind. Their first effort, by comparison to their No Wave peers, sounds relatively tame. For all of its atonality and dissonance, the songs on their first EP still sounded like songs. Their follow-up, Confusion is Sex, is much louder, abrasive, and adventurous. Imagine going to a concert in 1983 and hearing this:

Now compare that with this:

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