Geffen and Universal Music complete their reissue of Sonic Youths entire catalog with the bands long-unavailable debut EP and two side projects. While Sonic Youth was part of the post-punk/No Wave movement, theres a strong avant-garde component to its music that makes it challenging and somewhat difficult. Odd guitar tunings, feedback, and uncomfortably dissonant chords were already the basis for the bands sound on Sonic Youth, the 1982 EP released on guitarist Glenn Brancas Neutral Records. This reissue adds seven live tracks from late 1981 (cleaned up as much as possible), plus a studio track from earlier in that same year. Although Sonic Youth would go on to write more traditionally structured songs, the bands aesthetic -- brutal and harsh at times -- was already on display on those early recordings.
The Whitey Album (1989) was a side project by Sonic Youth (calling itself Ciccone Youth in tribute to Madonna) with some help from Mike Watt of the Minutemen and fiREHOSE. Electronic noise, beatboxes, rap, and a karaoke cover of "Addicted to Love" add up to some strange, humorous, and edgy music. The bands guitarist, Thurston Moore, released his only solo disc, Psychic Hearts, in 1995, and it is in many ways the most accessible of these discs, although it still has a good measure of feedback and odd guitar noise, as one might expect. It is also the best recorded of these discs.
Each of these CDs has its disconcerting moments -- this is music that refuses to compromise. Approach it on its own terms and you will find it invigorating.
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