Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped
Sonic Youth have been around for a long time. 25 years to be exact. Over the span of their career they have created a lot of music that was the first of its kind, foregoing traditional rock and roll and creating a new kind of noise-driven rock. For some listeners, including myself, a lot of Sonic Youth's earlier stuff is too noisy and “out-there” to be listenable. Granted a lot of early Sonic Youth songs are awesome songs and you can't deny the importance of records like EVOL and Daydream Nation but for the casual Youth fan, sometimes they can become too much. For this reason, when the band released more accessible albums such as Murray Street and Sonic Nurse, fans like me had something to be excited about. These records featured the blistering guitar work and unconventional song structure made famous on classic Sonic Youth records but with a little less noise, and a little less general "weirdness." Rather Ripped the band's latest effort continues in this light despite the loss of member (and one of my personal favorite musicians) Jim O'Rourke, who joined the band for its previous two records. The album, which is to be released this June (I think 13th, but I'm not sure), is one of the bands most solid efforts to date. The record opens with a fast (Sonic Youth style of course) pop-rock track called "Reena" with Kim Gordon on lead vocals. While I am not a fan of Kim singing (I think she has a horrendous voice) the production on this track is so good that Kim actually sounds like the right voice for this tune. The guitar work on the track is awesome lots of heavy picking and riffing but not quite soloing during instrumental breaks sets the mood for what is to be a great SY record. The next tune, "Incinerate" continues in the same fashion, with powerful riffs, and awesome guitar work, this time the vocals come from singer Thurston Moore. After "Incinerate" comes a quite, more ambient track called "Do You Believe In Rapture?" which finds Moore singing "Do you believe in his sweet sensation? Do you believe in a second chance? Do you believe in Rapture babe?" over muted guitar chords and a cymbal roll. A noise jam ensues as the second verse begins and then stops again at the end of the second verse. The song peaks with an instrumental break that features a full drum kit and some great guitar riffs and then come back down to end like it started, with just guitar and cymbals. The record continues on in the vein of the first two songs incorporating a perfect blend, of noise, drums, guitars, and great lyrics to create possibly my favorite Sonic Youth record to date. Now don't get me wrong this record does not lack its moments of screeching feedback and analog sounds derived from who knows what but it also has a lot of the amazing guitar playing that I loved so much on Sonic Nurse. I think it is the playing of guitarists Lee Renaldo and Thurston Moore that make this album so great. Almost all of the standout moments on this record that I can think of come from the perfectly calculated jams found on so many of these songs. While there may not be songs as good as say "New Hampshire" or "Stones" (both off of Sonic Nurse) this record is far more consistent and doesn't really have any bad songs. I highly recommend that any Sonic Youth fans both new and old check this record out, it will certainly not disappoint.