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coverpic flag US - New York - Full Moon 71 - 07/24/02

Sonic Youth
Murray Street

Here we go again, another Sonic Youth record, and depending on how you count it's something like their 16th album. Quite impressing and even more so when you consider the overall quality on the records - how many good albums did The Beatles, Stones or Zeppelin produce in their time? The sad part is to know that this excellent album is not going to change anything. The old faithfulls are still buying the records, a few newcomers drops in and a few drops out, the bands sales are levelling out. Sonic Youth are as big as they ever are going to get. End of story.

Murray Street is the name of the street in N.Y.C. where Sonic Youth have their recording and rehearsal studio. An apt name for an album started before the 11th of September and recorded in a studio located not far from the crash-site. Of course the recordings were stopped by the event and were delayed for several weeks. It's hard to say how much this attack impacted on the recordings and what traces we can find on it, but it's a quite different album from NYC Ghosts and Stories. Subtle hints of the disaster are scattered around the albums, like in the lyrics of "Disconnection Notice" - "This is no direction, prepare for the city, angels turn on heavens light". Well, like all SY lyrics it could mean anything, but the general mood of the album is not so much easy melancholia with beatpoetic notions, as more late autumn rock.

Another feature of the album is the input of Jim O'Rourke, master of easy listening noise. A staple in the band for some time now, and even if he was present on parts of NYC Ghosts and Stories sessions and plays on SYR3 and SYR4, this is the first "normal" SY-album where he features as a proper member. He's major input seems to be production and arranging, SY have never been this close to a Phil Spector-like Wall of sound. Not just he's trademark electronica shenanigans, but other instruments besides. Also the presence of the horns of Sauter and Dietrich adds much to the overall impact of the album. Why those guys never have appeared on any SY-record before now is a complete mystery to me, as early as the late 80-ties did Thurston appear on the mighty Borbetomagus record Barefoot in the Head and they have done concerts together...

All in all is Murray Street another invitation from SY to all of us to enjoy a bit of adventurous rock'n roll, on this album you'll never know what direction they'll take next. All the songs are filled to the brim of creative details and all the trademarks of SY are still there, the driving rocksongs, the noisemelodies, the interplay of two of rocks most innovative guitarists, the dissonant and the beautiful intermingled. There is still hope for rock as long as it keeps evolving.

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

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