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Monday, June 08, 2009

New Sonic Youth recording "The Eternal" is now released - buy it in your local record shop this week!


Poison Arrow - Rockin' and deconstructionalist, classic rock sendup, the most subversive track on the album. Sounds so fresh but recalls a bit of a Daydream Nation strut. Thurston vox are pure rockstar. Kim coos background refrain, and Lee too by the sounds of it. The unattainable woman is the subject, which is not a new lyrical offer after Marilyn Moore, Mary-Christ, Self-Obsessed and Sexxee, Lights Out, etc, etc however the metaphor adds some nice abstraction.

Calming the Snake - A summation of tricks owned by band with a feel for the band's early 80s sound. Kim barking orders to shiver. Then listing corpses, drapery, wrestling, sliding. Fast, slow, propulsive, major chords in clock strike midnight with intentionally sawed-off ending. Great finish. No new ideas here, except for the supreme confidence and polish used in the assembly of this song that makes it sound like a touchstone. This one's for people who know what they like.

Antenna - Chiming mid-tempo thumper - props for Thurston's vocals, whose voice sounds as steady as Lee's tenor for the first time, Steve's drums shine throughout. Overall this song has a new shiny sheen to it and doesn't immediate hearken earlier material though the track development is Sterling cookie-cutter grunge.


Sacred Trixter - Dissonant lurching opening, with thrash guitar. Peppy immediate vocals. A good choice for single. Chugs along, even when a second verse improv is attempted. Third verse accelerates to a final stanza and sudden stop just past the 2-minute mark.

Walkin' Blue - Headphones a must. An utterly lovely melody from Lee. Delightful repeated riff is a bridge to backup vox on chorus, which is less striking than the verse, but equally beautiful. This could be a Mamas and Papas song. Outstanding contribution to the band's oeuvre. There's a key shift when the song could be over and the band works out a new very elegant drawn-out structure for the song with Steve diligently keeping the time, urgency at the finish.

Thunderclap for Bobby Pyn - Explosive number. Thurston's breathy signature style backed by Kim vox. Also contains signature SY riffs and a melodic bounce. Very very Goo and very very good too.

Massage the History - Yo La Tengo nod as the SY penchant to go Fleetwood Mac-y on slower dirges sounds a lot like Matador label mates here, with atmospheric guitars reminiscent of I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One until strumming starts. Kim continually reaching for high notes and otherworldly sighs, emoting as is her nature. Dreamy and Sonic Nursesque. Laiden with meaning(s) about going "to the other side"... she sings it to its gut-wrenching finish in a stunning performance. Guitars reference Shadow of a Doubt.


What We Know - Uniquely lead by bass line. Lee song #1 backed by Kim vox. Familiar noise breakouts layered in, deconstructed down the bassline and rebuilt up to final verse.

Anti-Orgasm - Arpeggios and power chords with guitar pyrotechnics for the fans. Kim and Thurston share vox and do call and response in what really seems to me to be one of the most effortless SY songs ever. They laid it down and it's perfect. With grunting, looping riffs. Could be the new model SY. Autumnal coda a la "The Sprawl," is a less dazzling idea, but if I was the author of "The Sprawl" I would want to reference it all the time, every day.

Malibu Gas Station - Extended bucolic intro, autumnal. Then jammy parts light in "Reena" mould. So that makes it A 1000 Leaves + Rather Ripped. Kim's vocals chime in perfectly in sync with the drum beat. A catchy as My Friend Goo (stripped down it is the very same song but they are doing more sophisticated structured things to it). The most interesting progression of any track on The Eternal and lyrically it's the fall of Britney, which after the fall of Joan Crawford, Karen Carpenter, Mariah Carey, etc. is also not new ruminative territory for the band.

No Way - Stereo separation leads a breathless and careening Thurston track. Like a EJSTANS piece, done up with a fuller sound, more noise workouts and big production and ends up recalling Murray Street or Dirty's "Purr."


Leaky Lifeboat - A weird monotonal verse with la-la-la refrain that both Thurston and Kim sing. Conventional song structure. Also EJSTANS in sensibility with updated sound. Perhaps the most different of the 12 entries on the album. Has the most potential as a radio single, and also best leaves off where Rather Ripped placed them. Could be their first indie hit?

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