Sonic Youth are a noise rock band that have throughout the years have stayed strong, releasing loads of albums and building a secure fan base. Washing Machine is their thirteenth release (that including Ciccone Youthís The Whitey Album
), released in 1995. Washing Machine is a mix of noisy rock tracks with the rest as quiet atmospheric tracks. This album is certainly recommended, as every track is something to shout about. Sonic Youth consist of Thurston Moore (guitars and vocals), Lee Ronaldo (guitars), Kim Gordon (bassist/vocals) and Steve Shelley (drums). The two guitarists Thurston and Lee are very creative and create massive amounts of noise to give it that special sound Sonic Youth have. Kim is quite loud in the mix, helping the guitars under the noise. Steve isnít a super amazing drummer but he provides a beat and that is the most important thing. What starts
off is what could be portrayed as a simple indie song. It has this simple strummed chord pattern and Kim sings the song. Kim canít really sing but she uses her voice quite well here. She actually uses her voice to her potential instead of trying to sound annoying as she sometimes does. I really enjoy the manic fits of noise in the middle of the song as it adds another dimension when the bass just keeps playing. Kim then sings desperately, ďbecause of you, because of you, because of you, because of youÖ" and then it signs off with what seems like a large gong.
So Iíve described Kimís vocals, they can be annoying at times but sometimes I really like it. Thurston has quite a clean, dry voice. His voice seems pretty grunge and his guitar skills are above average. The noises and progressive feel of some songs is magical. With one peeking just less than 20 minutes and one just peeking less than ten minutes, Sonic Youth have evolved dramatically but still keep to somewhat, the same feel as their old albums. The lyrics are of a high standard but donít use metaphors or anything creative. They still require thought and are eagerly interesting. The lyrics donít talk rubbish and have some weird and wonderful ways of putting the message across. The track which appeals to me the most on this album is probably the old Junkieís Promise
, which starts off with this very grunge, rock riff and the main drum beat comes along. It sounds really pleasant and there is some noise but not a lot. The lyrics are what Iíve gathered is about Kurt Cobain. A few things add to my statement. This album was released in 1995, a year after Kurt died and the lyrics have some references, which obviously link to Kurt. ďI heard you say: "you know I hate myself but I love everybody else" and did you say: "I can't escape myself" and then you did and now there's no one else" is a pretty obvious part relating to the whole scene. The song have a manic fit of noise verging on to the end and that is quite a sweet way to end the song.
I do believe they used the whole ďnoise" factor way too much to the point that it is unbearable. It seems pretty grand to put it into a song, which seems like it isnít going to go into that direction but itís pretty obvious when they are going to put in manic streaks of noise which is sometimes breath-taking and sometimes dire. I donít think this would take away from the overall score or the quality of the album but it does tend to get annoying after a while. The songs wouldnít fit into the mainstream; itís way too noisy and corrupt for casual listeners. In fact, I couldnít imagine a lot of songs played in a big stage or arena, what strikes me about these songs is that I can always have an image of Sonic Youth playing in a small club with Lee and Thurston going at it with feedback. The moments I think that when listening to the album are the truly high moments of the album.
The nineteen minute beast of the album is The Diamond Sea
which is the last track on the album. The guitars in the beginning sound very post-rock and one of the guitars is dipped in flange and itís pretty clear to see. Thurstonís voice seems very emotional and doesnít delve into a one-tone voice. Three minutes in and we are already getting into the noise parts but it doesnít seem to be annoying and it is actually quite soothing. This noise lasts quite a long time and eats up a portion of the song. The guitars are very melodic at times during the song and it all equals up to how I love the song. The noises are intertwined through the song and usually there is a melodic bit and then noises, melodic bit and then noises, well you get the idea. The ending is very noisy and is probably what I donít like about the song but never the less; itís a strong song and enjoyable. I suggest listening to this, just dozing off.
Overall, Iíd tell you to get the album. Start with Daydream Nation
as that is their refining moment but when you get that, Washing Machine
is a great addition to your Sonic Youth collection. The band show great potential to write more songs and this is an interesting batch of musical expression. Washing Machine
starts off great, drops a tiny bit in the middle but ends amazingly so be careful when listening. This isnít the best Sonic Youth album, no, far from it but this is a solid album and contains some of Sonic Youthís best songs (and though Iím afraid to admit it, worst songs). You wonít be disappointed in buying this album, as it is a treat.