Sonic Youth | The Destroyed Room: B-Sides and Rarities (Geffen)

cd_sonic-youthSonic Youth captures this improvisation and musical weirdness on nearly every album, so much so that they are the standard by which noise music is measured.






Sonic Youth has always been one of those bands that you're either into a whole lot, or not at all. That said, their new CD, The Destroyed Room: B-Sides and Rarities, is an exercise in loyalty for the truly devoted. It will either be a die-hard fan's delight, or the album that a more pedestrian listener will point to when claiming that Sonic Youth are nothing more than droning, grating noise. But even a more ardent listener of Sonic Youth might concede that the CD is droning, grating noise. Sweet, glorious, droning, grating noise. The only problem with this collection of songs is the fact that it doesn't stick out as anything special.

Normally when a band you like puts out an album of rare songs and b-sides, you expect a certain number of surprising, uncharacteristic materials to justify the mere mention of the word "rare" But in this case, Thurston Moore and Co. could've just called it by another name and had it be the next album in their stellar catalogue. It never really feels as special as it sounds.

That is not to say that the tracks or bad or uninspiring at all; it's just that they don't stand out. The album as a whole lacks that certain feeling you normally get listening to a CD of weird studio outtakes or home recordings by a favorite artist.

Starting off the disc is the epic 10-plus-minute freeform jam "Fire Engine Dream," a simultaneously tedious and inspired track. From there, we hit a more structured chaos in the form of "Fauxemians," followed by two numbers spearheaded by Kim Gordon—and the first tracks to actually contain vocals—"Razor Blade" and "Blink." Gordon sings these dreamy songs in her trademarked detached and sultry voice.

In all honesty, the vocals are actually the true rarities on this disc. A good percentage of the album is comprised of outtakes from studio sessions, and songs that weren't quite good for albums such as Sonic Nurse, Murray Street, or Experimental Jet Set, Trash & No Star, with only a few tracks sounding as if they they'd actually been developed and formed into a cohesiveness worthy of the Sonic Youth name.

But, like the Grateful Dead, Sonic Youth are masters of spontaneous composition and trippy noise. Just as the Dead turned a portion of their live show into a freeform "Space" of sonic distortion to the delight of the, um, shall we say "chemically enhanced" audience, Sonic Youth captures this improvisation and musical weirdness on nearly every album, so much so that they are the standard by which noise music is measured. This is precisely why this album doesn't feel as special as it's made out to be.

We've heard this before.

Despite this drawback, the collection is a solid effort, and there are truly beautiful numbers lying in wait for the listener's curious ear. The aforementioned "Blink" is a prime example, as are the haunting "Beautiful Plateau" and "The Diamond Sea."

Sonic Youth's catalogue is full of important moments in musical ingenuity and fascinating noise, created by artists unencumbered by the 4/4 time signature. While this collection is certainly worthy of adding to your library, don't acquire this CD with high hopes of discovering anything new and inventive. Like me, you might have a slight feeling of disappointment, or even buyer's remorse. B | Tyson Blanquart

RIYL: Wolf Eyes, Hair Police, Velvet Underground, Patti Smith

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply