I’ve been listening to Sonic Youth’s Sister for the past couple of weeks. For some reason it’s considered to be much cooler to saythat Daydream Nation was the best thing Sonic Youth ever did. Well I’m here to tell you that they are wrong and they can all go fuck themselves because nothing, fucking nothing, is as good as Sister.
Sister is still number one on my all time list of favourite records. There is a warmth to the sound and even an intimacy in the way it is recorded that make Sister sound like Lo-Fi and Hi-Fi at once. It’s a noisy, record of weird tunings, distortion, fuzz and punk attitude. There are Kim’s moments of haunting, yet strangely menacing beauty, recorded through a filter of heroin and regret. The fuck-off avant-garde punk rock of Tuff Gnarl and Catholic Block have never been bettered. The songs are extraodinary and as an album it works in ways that Daydrean Nation couldn’t. There is no wank factor on Sister. Their is no indication of the pompous indulgence and the embarrassing efforts to stay relevant that blighted their later work. To my ears it is the perfect record.
That’s not to say that I’m a total Sonic Youth whore. I find it easier to break their back catalogue up into three’s. For instance the first three albums can be grouped into their no wave period (Sonic Youth, Confusion is Sex, Bad Moon Rising), next we get the mesmerising sonic bliss of their best three (Evol, Sister and Daydream Nation), after that the grab for the big time (Goo, Dirty and Experimental Jet Set and No Star), the three albums that proceeded to off load all of the alt-rock good will (Washing Machine, A Thousand Leaves and NYC Songs and Stories) and the final three, the mildly bored musings of the grand parents of the rock underground (Murray Street, Sonic Nurse and Rather Ripped). Out of all of those albums the only two that I cannot stand are Experimental … and Washing Machine. Those two records are fucking awful. Both of them. In particular it is that semi acoustic shit that Thurston does that I just don’ get. Both of those records are peppered with, dare I say it, lameness, even pathetic earnestness. There’s a uni student who works with me who has pretty good taste, and he started to recommend Thurston Moore’s new record and I had to explain that I just couldn’t. The fucker had burnt me before and I just can’t be interested in anything he does that had descriptions like “acoustic” attached to it. Likewise the “mature” sound of the final three records just didn’t light up my life. Those records are fine in their own way but that’s no longer enough for me.
I suppose the reason for this post is that Sonic Youth are coming to Australia (although not Brisbane) to play the entirety of Daydream Nation. I’m thinking of buying a ticket for Melbourne but somehow I wish that they were playing Sister instead.