Your reputation in music is based entirely on what kind of people you sorround yourself with in order to work in your own project. In most modern pop-rock-hip-hop environments, new artists (and some that aren't that new) sorround themselves with their contemporaries in order to create the "fashionable sounds". Or who hasn't invited that N.E.R.D. producer (Pharrell Williams, I presume) to their projects to add "da flavor" for it to be cool and modern?
But... what happens when your environment isn't exactly in your channel, and the era you've emerged from doesn't really click with your own musical intentions? You alienate from them, and most probably, you'll survive. And your sound may not be the coolest, it may not be the most heard, but it will certainly be ground-breaking and, well. Different.
That's the case of Sonic Youth. I had always related Sonic Youth with the Nirvana era. I even considered them to be a Grunge band, and being par with Nirvana's sound. However, I had only listened to moist v
agina, and I had only listened to random bits of it. My judgement towards Sonic Youth was rather poor and without fundament. One day, I saw a copy of this album "Murray Street" at my local music shop for $3, so I thought "Eh, I was going to eat those anyway", so I just went for it. The album was kept in the shadows of my albums until one day I decided it was time to listen to it, and I did. Boy, was I wrong. Sonic Youth, without a doubt, is an amazing band that is completely away from my standards of Grunge back in the day, and was certainly an outsider in that movement. This album, which is relatively "new" is a great point to start listening to Sonic Youth if you are a fanatic of Post-Rock sound and Ambient music.
My opinion however is entirely based as a first-time listener, because as you might have noticed, I'm not that experienced when it comes to Sonic Youth or other releases by them, but this album certainly triggered my interest in this guys.
The album's story is quite interesting: When the September 11, 2001 attacks occurred, several members of the band were blocks away, in Echo Canyon on Murray Street hence the name of the album.
In the summer of 2002, Murray Street was released: Many critics declared the album to be their finest work in over a decade. But let's see what an Average Joe has to say about them. =]
The album kicks off with The empty page
, A very mellow, easy going song with a very catchy bass line. The singer begins his singing, and this really catches you, it has a very easy-going feeling to it: The percussions, despite not being a stand-out part of the music in this track, just make the exact amount of company needed by the rest of the instruments. A fill here or there, but it really adds a lot to the tranquile mood. The guitar sounds are very melodic, but the song suddenly rises its speed into a heavier, more rock oriented sound, and then leaves a pair of guitars playing the main riff of the song, and derivative sounds of this same riff. The whole band enters again and the song ends. A great way to start the album.
begins with a darker feeling, a sadder vibe which really makes the album not feel like a long version of the same song repeated over and over again. The guitars once again, play a very important role in setting the mood for this song. The solos are full of emotion rather than technical importance. They are not large anthems of masturbatory song-writing: They are the perfect amount of emotion added to an instrument to make it stand out. This track is probably the first one to really showcase the trippiness of the whole album: While a pair of guitars are playing coherent riffs, a third one adds color to the scene with dissonant, borderline hissy sounds that may not attract all the listeners, but the instrumental section is certainly an introduction for the tracks ahead.
As the tracks pass by, the time they last also increases. Rain on Tin
, begins with really soft lyrics, a small poem if you may want to see it in such way, and leaves out the easiness of ear to create the acclaimed atmospheres I enjoyed vastly from this album. The guitars all create the sorroundings, still in a very Rock-guided manner, and still fairly easy to like, nothing too intricate, just the necessary to make this song work. The drums however in here are my favorite. All over the song just raises the tempo, until it reaches it's climax at around 5:00 into the track, when all the intruments just clash the sounds one with the other. Making an image in your head, you can think of this as a rain song you know, with the sudden really heavy poruing and then a calm, beautiful segment. The last riff with the guitars altogether is great in this piece.
In which I consider the trippiest of the songs in this album, Karen Revisited
starts like your usual rock song with lyrics about a girl, apparently (well duh, guys named Karen...) the actual song part of this track (in which all the members of the band are all participating) is among my favorite parts of the album. The lyrics of this song can easily relate to the musical experience: A girl and her drug experience. Just as Rain on Tin
, after the lyrics, hell breaks loose. Karen, Karen
is the last standing part of the song that makes sense. And then the noises come in. The last part isn't necessarily bad, it's just not meant to be listened by the common ear who isn't willing to interpret this sounds as they wish. This song holds a resemblence to those noise bands like Sunn0))) (or at least what I've heard by them). My problem with this song is that it drags on too much, in a completely unnecessary post-modernistic rambling. I can understand the vision of the band, I just don't quite follow why make a seven-minute anthem about a drug trip.
Radical Adults Lick Godhead Style
brings consciousness to the album once again. With an introductory riff that reminds me in a lt of ways those of the band Tool, and lyrics that are very deep and complex. The overall song reminds me of Tool, except there is no Maynard in here. Truly a good change from what was heard in Karen Revisited
. The songs from this point and ahead (until the last song) are not as long as their fellow companions, which is good in a way. The instrumental section in this song changes the mood into a more attack-y, more in the lines of some Radiohead kind of ambient just to make a comparison, and doesn't end up by slowly fading the sound. It just ends, period. Great song, another favorite.
I like the double feel in the drums of Plastic Sun
, and the vocals from what seems to be a girl, or the singer making a very, very sneaky sounding high-pitched voice... hmmm. Being the shortest song in the album, there's not much room for the experimentation in the other tracks, This song is apparently about the fake society we live in, and this is the only song which is mostly driven with lyrics, a rather fresh change after the acid trips we've experienced p to this point.
The last track on the album, Sympathy for the Strawberry
begins with all the guitars creating a trippy vibe (forgive the term repetition, but I lack a better term to expose how the song really sounds), and now the instrumental section is not the last one, but the introduction for the track. I'm still trying to figure out what this song is about, probably someone coming out of the closet or something of that nature. Once again, a female fills in the vocal department, and the musicians just make a constant riff/vibe for the whole vocal part. It seems they have had their fun. A third guitar comes in and out every once in a while with a tremolo picked note. After the vocals are done, the instruments take over again and rise the mood they had created for the vocals to come in, and they jam freely and just having fun with the spare time. Not my favorite track, but does the trick to end the album.
The lyrics were really a shocker to me, I never really though they were going to be as complex as they are, coming and going into different styles, or even moreso, being just an excuse not to make a purely instrumental album.
The overall experience with this album was rather satisfactory. but it wouldn't have been possible unless I had given it the right amout of listens to other instrumental/trippy/post-rock music which is mostly instrument driven rock.
You can put this album in that category, and you would definitely not be dissapointed by it. Other than the excessive drug consumption recquired to understand Karen Revisited
fully, I found this album to be quiet enjoyable if you're willing to listen, of course. And it's certainly not for the casual listener, other than the parts that actually have lyrics in them. Those parts are amazing for the casual listener.
This album has the Tojes Seal of Approval
* Very well created atmospheres
* Awesome lyrics
* Solid songwriting, overall
* Sometimes they get caught up in experimentation and that's not necessary at times.
# Audio CD (June 25, 2002)
# Number of Discs: 1
# Label: Geffen Records