Thursday, June 02, 2011

90's Hit Parade #60

Sonic Youth - Disapearer
This may be one of the best examples of Sonic Youth as a "song band" (rather than a "guitar band"), although it does have some great guitar work and an awesome jam at the center. This really captures the atmosphere that I most associate with Sonic Youth, a late night vibe. The melody is a bit abstract, like the best early R.E.M. songs, you can't quite get a grip on it but it sinks into your brain. And the video is a perfect match for what's already in the song: the feeling of driving late at night, past neon signs and streetlights in a hazy state of consciousness. I especially love the little visual pun with the cheap plastic word game, probably bought at some truck stop to while away the long hours in the back seat, on the words "Western Starland." Funny thing: I only saw this video a couple times, on 120 Minutes, but I would have sworn up and down that it was in black and white.

Bonus Beats:

I saw Sonic Youth twice while they were touring for Washing Machine (first was their headlining spot at Lollapalooza 1995). Curiously, I don't think the album is very good, but the songs sounded great live. I would say that both times, the highlights of the set were "Washing Machine" and "Diamond Sea," and the second time I'd add "Saucerlike" to that list (they didn't play it at Lollapalooza). I'm not sure why these songs didn't really come across in the studio. Maybe it's the jammy nature of both songs ("Diamond Sea" has the explosive climax like "Heroin," "Washing Machine" is more like the mysterious labyrinth of "Sister Ray"), but seeing these songs live...well, I'd put that second show in my top 5 live experiences of all time.


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