5 July 2013
Sonic Youth - Bad Moon Rising
This album is held in legend to some of my friends, as is the band themselves. For me, I have never been a big fan of their work. Sure, I heard of them and listened to a few things (especially Dirt) around the time of grunge when they were lumped in with the Seattle scene (despite being from New York), mainly because they took out Nirvana when they were just about to erupt onto the world with "Smells Like Teen Spirit". This album here was recorded way before those events back in 1985. It is noted that it is the band's first release to have segues and transitional pieces which meant that the eight original tracks of the album can be viewed as one continues piece of music.
For an 80's album, it is dark. When I say dark, I mean it really is looking at the underbelly of America at the time. Themes such as the Charles Manson murders, satanic rituals, the Native American's first encounters with the European Settlers and the artist Edward Rushca all come into play with this album. Now whilst not having a good grip on the band's other material, I can confirm that this skips between the melodic and noise with the ease of a child doing hopscotch. "I Love Her All The Time" is a burning piece which lets it's secrets come out slowly, whilst fading perfectly into "Ghost Bitch" and the feedback that follows. Other stands out moments include the delectable "Death Valley 69" which was recorded with Lynda Lynch and the pulsing yet almost falling apart "Brave Men Run (In My Family)".
The final four tracks on the album sort of stand out like sore thumbs in a way, which is not their fault - I can just see why they were not placed on the original release. "Satan Is A Bore" is a fun noise piece, but hardly essential. "Halloween" & "Flower" bring to mind a more psychedelia Swans which the band have been compared to at times, with "Echo Canyon" being a little noise ending that is neither here or there. However, adding these four tracks on the album has not taken anything away from the original eight.
Overall, this album is an interesting beginning and it is easy to see why it was making a scene in the hair metal & synth obsessed 80's. It really was the kid at the party staring at you with disgust and contempt. It is an awkward and prickly album; it is by no means a comfortable ride and not something you would possibly run back to. However, it is hypnotic and worthy of the praise that has received over the years. Also, that cover it so iconic it must make hipster cry that they can never be that good.
7 out of ten - This is good and well worth a check
You can purchase from here
You can visit the band's website here
You can listen to it on Spotify here
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