Saturday, October 19, 2013

Music Library: Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, Son House, Son Volt, Sonic Youth, Sonic's Rendezvous Band, Sonics, Sonny Boy Williamson

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin - Broom (2005) and Pershing (2008). This band, despite their unwieldy name, does not play atmospheric post-rock, but pleasant indie pop.

Son House - Delta Blues And Spirituals (recorded 1970). I have many of Son House's sides from the 30s and 40s on other collections (including the excellent Charley Patton box), but the only album I have that is attributed to Mr. House is this one, which was recorded much later in his life. This one, though, has his version of "Death Letter," which is so brutal that it is practically metal.

Son Volt - Trace (1995). I love the hell out of Uncle Tupelo and Wilco, but Son Volt is just too dry and studied for me. I mean, this album, their debut Trace, has some moments of real life. But I saw them right around the time this came out, and the band played the album so closely, so unvaryingly, that they could have been lip-syncing to the album. Then I picked up the next two Son Volt albums and found them really boring. And this was when I loved alt-country more than anything! I ended up selling them back to a record store long before I digitized my collection. This album is pretty good, though.

Sonic Youth:

Bad Moon Rising (1985), EVOL (1986), Sister (1987), Master-Dik EP (1987), Daydream Nation (1988), Daydream Nation: Deluxe Edition (1988), 4 Tunna Brix: Peel Session 10-19-1988. I haven't listened to the prior albums since the early 1990s, but I guess I should check out Sonic Youth and Confusion Is Sex again at some point. This is where the band became great, though. On Bad Moon Rising, Thurston Moore and Lee Renaldo brought their experience with Rhys Chatham to bear on songs - actual songs, with beginnings, middles, and ends - with little psychedelic altars to noise erupting periodically. EVOL is not much of a leap forward, other than "Expressway To Yr. Skull," in which the little altar of noise because a full-fledged church. Then, on Sister, the devotion to noise and soundscapes became a damn cathedral, a testament to human experimentation, marrying compositional art music to straight-up indie rock like no one else. Sister is one of my favorite albums, but the Master-Dik EP that followed it is only ok. Then there's Daydream Nation, a masterpiece where Sonic Youth marries near-ambient noodling with hardcore riffage and energy, punk economy with krautrock scale, subject matter of totemic personal privacy with a gaspingly large vision of the world. This is the greatness of Sonic Youth: their ability to marry seemingly opposite styles and sounds into a coherent, overwhelming whole. The Deluxe Edition adds demos and live versions and nonalbum tracks, but it's only for collectors. The Peel Session has SY covering a bunch of tracks by The Fall (including a Fall-ish cover of the Kink's "Victoria," which was, incidentally, a hit for The Fall).

Goo (1990), Dirty (1992), Experimental Jet Set, Trash And No Star (1994), Washing Machine (1995). The first of their major-label releases, Goo is pretty fantastic. Maybe it isn't Daydream Nation-good, but what is? Goo is more audience-friendly but it still maintains SY's love of noise and speed erupting into placidity. Dirty, which is much maligned in some quarters for its willingness to please, is similar, but it strikes me as even more successful than Goo. SY had to balance their bid for new listeners (I mean, they headlined Lollapalooza back when that meant something) with their own style, and Dirty gets that in spades. Experimental, which bugs me to this day by lacking an oxford comma, is where the friction between SY's experimental side and their radio-friendly side start to come together, and it's slightly less great than Dirty for it. Washing Machine, while having one of my favorite tracks in the 20-odd-minute "The Diamond Sea," really starts to fall apart on the second side. The run from "Little Trouble Girl" to "No Queen Blues" to "Panty Lies" is almost like a parody of Sonic Youth, with Kim Gordon's usually righteous feminist rants sort of running the music in circles. Annoying circles. I almost never skip through a SY song, but I pretty much always skip these. Anyway, SY's growing popularity in the early 90s led to events like this absolutely fantastic clip of their network premiere on Letterman. I saw this at the time and it has been burned in my consciousness like few other TV appearances of favorite bands. And, oh hell, I can't stop posting clips of SY in the 90s.

SYR 1: Anagrama (1997), SYR 2: Slaapkamers Met Slagroom (1997), A Thousand Leaves (1998), Silver Session (For Jason Knuth) (1998), SYR 3: Invito Al Cielo (1998), SYR 4: Goodbye 20th Century (1999), NYC Ghosts & Flowers (2000), SYR 5: Olive's Horn (Kim Gordon, DJ Olive, and Ikue Mori, 2000). Wrapping up the 90s are two excellent albums in A Thousand Leaves and NYC Ghosts & Flowers and a whole bunch of experimental EPs. Anagrama is the best of these, practically an outtake album. Slaapkamers Met Slagroom and Invito Al Cielo are both good album, although both run on a little two long. Silver Session and Goodbye 20th Century are both slogs with a few moments of greatness, and Olive's Horn is just freakin' awful.

Murray St. (2002), In The Fishtank 9 (Sonic Youth + I.C.P. + The Ex, 2002), SYR 6: Koncertas Stan Brakhage Prisiminimui (Sonic Youth su Tim Barnes, 2002), Sonic Nurse (2004), The Destroyed Room: B-Sides And Rarities (released 1994-2004), Rather Ripped (2006), SYR 7: J'Accuse Ted Hughes (2008), The Eternal (2009). The 00s albums were uniformly excellent as SY fell into a solid lock on their sound. The Fishtank EP, on the other hand, is lousy, but not as lousy as the two SYR EPs, which are so dull that I couldn't bring myself to pick up the final two. The Destroyed Room, with music spanning the 90s and 00s, is fan-freakin'-tastic. And The Eternal may be my favorite of all of these. It's a shame that Thurston Moore had to go and fuck up the band.

Sonic's Rendezvous Band - Live, Masonic Auditorium, Detroit, 01/14/1978. A killer punk experiment with Fred "Sonic" Smith and Scott Asheton.

The Sonics - Here Are The Sonics!!! (1965). Garage rock does not get better than this. As an added bonus, there's three extraordinary Christmas tracks from a 1966 EP added to the end.

Sonny Boy Williamson - Down And Out Blues (1959), More Real Folk Blues (1967), and Bummer Road (1969). The second of two blues musicians named Sonny Boy Williamson is the better-known one. Down And Out Blues has Muddy Waters, Robert Jr. Lockwood, and Willie Dixon. I don't know who's on the other ones. They're all pretty good.


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