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coverpic flag US - New York - Full Moon 157 - 07/07/09

Sonic Youth
The Eternal
Matador / Playground

It's quite amazing to think that Sonic Youth (SY) have been around for nearly 30 years, with The Eternal being their 16th album. They've been noising around over the years, making more or less experimental avant-noise-punk-pop. They've now ended their corporate days at Geffen, to yet again return to the cooler underground (SY have been recording for classic labels as SST, Homestead, and Blast First), this time at Matador. Along with former Pavement matador Mark Ibold on bass.

I've been on and off Sonic Youth for many years. Simply because they're a band it's easy to turn on/off to. My personal fave SY albums lay way back in time, with their Geffen debut Goo (1990), and its follow-up, Dirty (1992). The primal, sonic soundscapes of Bad Moon Rising (1985), EVOL (1986) and Sister (1987) had their moments, but Daydream Nation (1988) never came to me as the classic many hailed it to be. The post Dirty recordings have been a line of SY albums/songs according to sort of a SY formula. More or less. I'm not saying they have been all bad records. Don't get me wrong. SY have been an experimental band all the way, and it's been kind of strange that Geffen Records have been putting out their far from mainstream rock for so many years.

The Eternal holds 12 songs (clocking in at nearly one hour), starting with the short single choice, "Sacred Trickster". It's working better now, starting up the rest of the album. An album with a lot of trademark SY guitars by Moore and Ranaldo, as well as trademark drum patterns by Shelley. Plus of course trademark SY song-writing and song-arrangements. I've been a fan of Lee Ranaldo's songs, and here we have "What We Know" and "Walkin Blue" among the album's absolutely best. The long-stretched "Anti-Orgasm" (vocals by all three) is also fascinating. Plus the albums' closing track, the nearly 10 minute long "Massage the History" (sung by Kim Gordon). In all, Sonic Youth shove plenty of proof of continuing a 30-year-long career in style. Without stalling, still showing the necessary vitality to keep on. The Eternal is maybe not timeless, or for eternity. However, it shows a band still being in good shape, 30 years in business.

Oh, yes, the cover art is a painting by the late John Fahey (guitarist, artist, 1939-2001).

Copyright © 2009 Håvard Oppøyen e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Sonic Youth articles/reviews: Goo, Murray Street, Sacred Trickster.

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