Home > Bargain > Sonic Youth – Sonic Nurse

Sonic Youth – Sonic Nurse

Geffen Records, 2004

Well, this was automatic.  I’m not a gargantuan Sonic Youth fan, but for some reason whenever I see a record of theirs lying around I always consider picking it up.  They are consistently inventive and, though I can’t say I know of too many of their records I enjoy playing front to back, they always have at least a really good tune or two on every release.  I imagine they’ll never get tiresome to spend some time with, so when “Sonic Nurse” was found on heavy discount I had to take it home for a few spins.

If one hasn’t listened to Sonic Youth since, say, “Dirty”, then let me tell you something about the veteran Sonic Youth crew: they have mellowed.  On this album, at least, many of the songs take a gradual pace that force you to listen for an average of five minutes.  If one listens closely, one can hear a multitude of effects and sound clashes that find their way into songs whether in the foreground, background or the way-way-background.   It is apparent that Sonic Youth are a listening experience rather than a band that is concerned about quick singles and ideas.

As much as I like Thurston Moore’s accessible vocals, Kim Gordon’s voice can be a real treat on songs that feature it.  Well, maybe when it’s not straining too hard.  A good example of the soothing aspect of her voice is “Dude Ranch Nurse”, which keeps a breathy Gordon behind some of the noise.  Her voice seems to help settle the song when the guitars get particularly anxious.

A more typical Kim Gordon-sung track is the excellent “Pattern Recognition”.  Here she balances her comforting low tones with her hoarse outbursts of “You’re the one!” during the tense, guitar-driven moments.  What has made her voice fitting for many Sonic Youth songs is that she can immerse herself well during anything loud and clamoring that the band wishes to carry on with.  That said, “Kim Gordon and the Arthur Doyle Hand Cream” is a reminder that Gordon can be just as abrasive as pretty when the music requires it.

A song that is a fine pick up amidst some quiet tunes is “New Hampshire”, which also gets a smile from me since I’m originally from the place.  Granted, the lyrics are bizarre and apparently about Aerosmith.  Hmm … good song though.  The last track, “Peace Attack”, is not the mangled blast out that one might think ends every Sonic Youth record.  It turns out to be another fine, pensive long-player that Sonic Youth put on this record.  I have to admit that, along with a decent dose of the crazy in various places, I kind of like this mellow Sonic Youth.

Sonic Youth can be found in many places, but they’ll always be found on their website, their MySpace page, and at Last.fm.

Gotta give props to this guy, who I not only lifted the album art picture from but also has a lot more invested in this album from back when it came out.  He wrote a pretty cool ‘game changing’ high school story about Sonic Youth, which probably has to top my Aerosmith and Alice In Chains one.  Since they have got a lengthy discography, it’s tough to say whether this is a must grab for those thinking of getting into Sonic Youth.  I would say it’s a pretty good way to start, for the songs aren’t too crazy to turn anyone off but there is just enough to give one an idea that Sonic Youth are not a typical rock band.  If one can’t find a copy of “Daydream Nation” or “Goo” handy, “Sonic Nurse” is a solid option.

As everyone knows, Sonic Youth are still putting out music in their own style and at their own pace.  One may not know what they come up with from record to record, but it’s practically certain that the quartet will release something new eventually.  I have yet to see these guys live and will kick myself if I don’t get around to it.  In an age where longevity is sometimes paused and reunions are common, I would hate to take Sonic Youth for granted and think they’ll be around forever.  That’d be too much to ask for, eh?

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