Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sonic Youth

For what will probably be my last set of notes on the Seattle music scene, I wanted to write about Sonic Youth. Despite not being from Seattle (but New York), the band influenced many late eighties and early nineties bands. It is easy to see why, given that they practiced D.I.Y. ethics as part of hardcore punk and are often considered an important early indie band.

What surprised me most about Sonic Youth when I first started listening to them was how normal they sounded. Everyone had either loved them but conceded they were strange or they hated them because they were "just noise." I find neither true, but maybe after all the music I have been listening to lately, this is not all that surprising. If anything, I am struck by how much they chant in their music like other punk bands and like protopunk Patti Smith does in songs like "Gloria," and how generally amazing Sonic Youth are. I can see why someone would love them.
Below, perhaps the most famous song from the band, "Kool Thing." Chuck D from Public Enemy guested on this song, which completely threw me. The song mentions pulling away from corporate influence, even though the song was released on Geffen, which was itself a major corporate entity. (And would later, of course, be the label Nirvana was on.)

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