Sonic Youth
Daydream Nation
Enigma Records

      "Sonic Youth is the best guitar band of the eighties." Robert Palmer said that. He also said, "You might as well face it, your addicted to love," and made a lot of money for saying it. Sonic Youth said, "Forget the future, these times are such a mess / Tune out the past and just say yes." Unlike Robert Palmer, they didn't make a lot of money, just a lot of sense.
      Daydream Nation is Sonic Youth's first double album, their first album on a major label, and their most serious and accessible album to date (it may even be their best, I can't say yet). At any rate, it is certainly Sonic Youth's most eclectic album. "Providence" is practically a Brian Eno song, while "Eliminator, Jr." is as close to hardcore as I may ever care to get. Because of its length and range, Daydream Nation its not as consistent as Evol, or even Sister, but not every album has to be a concept album, and Daydream Nation still holds together better than most. Ultimately, to understand this album you need to understand the band. And to most folks understanding Sonic Youth is about as easy as hearing a dog whistle.

      Sonic Youth's saving grace is that they never learned how to play their instruments "properly", and so there is no rulebook in their heads, nothing to keep them from emitting any sound they want. Lou Reed said, "Between thought and expression, there lies a lifetime." Sonic Youth's lifetime lies not in mocking Van Halen solos, but in experimenting with screwdrivers as capos, drumsticks as picks, tambourines as drumsticks, and lyrical phrases as plastic explosives. What doesn't work, they abandon. What works, they hoard, warp, and mutate into something that works even better.
      Unlike other industrial bands, Sonic Youth is in control of, and not controlled by, the noise their instruments make. They know that noise for noise sake is a dead end street called Mediocre Performance Art Avenue. In 1985, with the release of the Flower single, Sonic Youth left the ranks of the New York industrial scene having finally realized that to be misunderstood is not to be great; to be misunderstood is simply to be misunderstood. It's been uphill ever since.

      Sonic Youth's two guitarists play their guitars as if they had never seen a guitar or a guitarist in their lives. Concerning chords and solos, they simply can't be bothered. Instead, Lee and Thurston play sound strands that warp and weave together to form a totally unique, stupid-fresh noise tapestry that's not sold at any Dead show (order yours today). Their noise is a beautiful tangle of thick transparent weight, a green light, a skinny arm, an iron butterfly, a dream cereal, and ultimately something that I can't very well describe.
      Stretch this heavy guitar weave around the consistently erratic frame of Steve Shelley's drum work (more important now to the band's sound than ever), nail the whole thing to the sky with Kim Gordon's jackhammer bass playing, and you've got a daydream nation. "Find it in the father. Find it in a girl."

      Folk artist Howard Finster used his hands to make some tools. then he used the tools to make two things, a house, and a box. Then he sealed the tools inside the box and buried the box under the house. Then he went inside to wash his hands before supper.
      I can't really explain why the songs on this album are so powerful. They make an emotional skyscraper and then bury themselves under it. How does this massive electric noise construct such a harmonious continent? I don't know, and ultimately I don't care, because Sonic Youth slays and that's enuff.
      The tools are in the cellar. The castle is beautiful. It looks pretty good to me. Read Sandburg's "Prayers of Steel". Scratch a mad dog's ear. And don't forget to rock.