tectactoe
User

Reviews 4
Approval 94%

Soundoffs 56
Album Ratings 2290
Objectivity 93%

Last Active 12-22-20 7:50 pm
Joined 09-24-05

Forum Posts 23
Review Comments 3,809

 Lists
01.20.21 tec's SONIC YOUTH, Ranked 01.05.21 MUSIC: tec's Top 50 of 2020
11.23.20 2020 // 25 UNDER 2510.27.20 Just got Nintendo SWITCH
10.07.20 tectac's Electric Wizard, Ranked08.26.20 tec's Top 100 Albums of All Time
08.21.20 FILM: tectac's Kelly Reichardt, Ranked07.07.20 Top 25 of 2020: So Far! (Sept.)
05.27.20 FILM: tectac's Hayao Miyazaki, Ranked 05.12.20 MUSIC: tectac's Swans, Ranked
03.15.20 FILM: tectac's Tsai Ming-liang, Ranked02.25.20 FILM: tectac's Robert Bresson, Ranked
01.21.20 MUSIC: tec's Top 50 of 2019 12.18.19 FILM: tec's Noah Baumbach, Ranked
12.09.19 MUSIC: tec's Top 100 Songs of 2019 11.25.19 FILM: tectac's Sergio Leone, Ranked
10.30.19 FILM: tectac's Darren Aronofsky, Ranked10.24.19 FILM: tectac's Top 10(0) Films of the D
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tec's SONIC YOUTH, Ranked

Maybe the greatest rock band of all time? Certainly one of the most consistent, if nothing else. Not a single album (soundtracks, EPs, demos, and compilations excluded) rated below 3/5, which is something of a feat in and of itself, especially considering the quantity of entries (sixteen!).
16Sonic Youth
The Eternal


Overall Score | 2.75 | 🌕🌕🌕🌑🌑

🥇 Massage the History
🥈 Sacred Trickster
🥉 What We Know

Scrapes by enough to earn a three-out-of-five, just barely. And it’s not so much that anything here is “bad”, because it isn’t. But it’s Sonic Youth at their most complacent, lackadaisical, and restrained, which in many ways equates to uninteresting. I still consider this a notch above “average”, though, because there’s a crunchy posture you won’t find in radio-friendly rock bands of the week. It is, however, a somewhat unfortunate conclusion to what is one of music’s greatest discographies, even if only by direct comparison.
15Sonic Youth
Rather Ripped


Overall Score | 3.00 | 🌕🌕🌕🌑🌑

🥇 Do You Believe in Rapture?
🥈 Pink Steam
🥉 Incinerate

The top three songs are quality, and the rest fall somewhere between “decent but otherwise unremarkable” (e.g. “Reena” or “Sleepin Around”) and “manufactured muck” (e.g. “What a Waste”, “Jams Run Free”, or “Lights Out”). This is the poppiest Sonic Youth would ever get (if you want to call it that) and while those tendencies aren’t necessarily a death knell in and of themselves, they feel awkward tethered to a group that achieved nirvana by establishing the very antithesis of commercially consumable music. Shockingly, they do pull it off a couple times (“Incinerate” being the biggest example) but all it really does it whet my appetite for the earlier, infinitely more askew permutations of their sound.
14Sonic Youth
Murray Street


Overall Score | 3.07 | 🌕🌕🌕🌑🌑

🥇 Radical Adults Lick Godhead Style
🥈 The Empty Page
🥉 Sympathy for Strawberry

Every time I tell myself “this will be the time I listen to MURRAY STREET and finally value it as the masterpiece so many others do,” all I’m really doing is setting myself up for yet another bummer. I want to love this album so badly, but it never sinks its teeth deep enough to break skin. I prefer this to the more pop-tinted orientation of their final and penultimate albums, but there’s a rhythmic pit here that feels distressingly more banal than mesmerizing. I’m convinced that one day it’ll hit me and I’ll “get” it, and there’s admittedly not a minute of this I dislike. But I’m still waiting for it to sweep me off my feet, ya dig?
13Sonic Youth
Dirty


Overall Score | 3.13 | 🌕🌕🌕🌑🌑

🥇 Sugar Kane
🥈 Theresa’s Sound-World
🥉 Chapel Hill

Somewhat of a letdown on the heels of GOO, diluting the noise even further and approaching (gasp!) homogeneity for the first time. An early foreshadowing of where Sonic Youth would venture for their final two records, yet maintains a slight edge because it contains pockets of the rambunctious energy they harnessed in their early years (because these still *were* their early years, at least looking back on them now). The first Youth album that contains what I’d consider filler. But again, my complaints are relative to an impeccable body of work, and the good nevertheless outweighs the less-good by a respectable margin.
12Sonic Youth
Experimental Jet Set, Trash, and No Star


Overall Score | 3.32 | 🌕🌕🌕🌗🌑

🥇 Bull in the Heather
🥈 Self-Obsessed and Sexxee
🥉 Bone

A tough one, because it *feels* like it should be a fantastic return to form after the somewhat disappointing departure of DIRTY, and at times it *does* exemplify those desires (see: the three songs mentioned above, or “Quest for the Cup,” “In the Mind of the Bourgeois Reader,” and “Sweet Shine”), but it fails to build momentum like the greatest Youth albums do. More than any of their other records, it sounds like a collection of songs and not a cohesive statement piece—as a result, it doesn’t “go” anywhere so much as it wanders around aimlessly. Granted, Sonic Youth aimlessly wandering is still better than most bands with an identifiable trajectory, so I my complaints only go so far.
11Sonic Youth
A Thousand Leaves


Overall Score | 3.36 | 🌕🌕🌕🌗🌑

🥇 Hits of Sunshine (For Allen Ginsberg)
🥈 Sunday
🥉 Karen Koltrane

Flies by on the coattails of its strongest tracks: The three mentioned above, along with “Wildflower Soul”, “Hoarfrost,” and “Snare, Girl” could be cobbled together for an immaculate, razor-sharp six-song release. The rest of the tracks range from merely good (e.g. “The Ineffable Me” or “Heather Angel”) to downright middling (e.g. “Contre le sexisme” or “French Tickler”), making for a maddeningly uneven experience. But the great songs are *so* great that the album still places above several others. So it goes.
10Sonic Youth
Sonic Nurse


Overall Score | 3.40 | 🌕🌕🌕🌗🌑

🥇 Unmade Bed
🥈 Paper Cup Exit
🥉 Dude Ranch Nurse

My favorite post-2000 release because it remains the most dynamic among those eligible, and dynamism was at one time a critical component to what separated The Youth from any old run-of-the-mill, noisy alt-rock band. The contrast between the opening two tracks alone - “Pattern Recognition” and “Unmade Bed” - represents a wider spread across the sonic spectrum than any entire album Sonic Youth put out after the turn of the millennium. Has some notable weak spots—e.g. “Kim Gordon and the Arthur Doyle Hand Cream” and the final two tracks, “I Love You Golden Blue” and “Peace Attack” stand out—but not enough to drag this down from being a mostly-great offering overall.
9Sonic Youth
Confusion Is Sex


Overall Score | 3.56 | 🌕🌕🌕🌗🌑

🥇 Protect Me You
🥈 (She’s in A) Bad Moon
🥉 Freezer Burn / I Wanna Be Your Dog

Take the first four tracks here, from “(She’s in A) Bad Mood” through “Shaking Hell”, and you’d have an eighteen-minute EP that would rank among Sonic Youth’s best releases, quite possibly in the top three. Just an amazing bombardment of noisy, experimental no wave that’s both caustic and enchanting, manic and mysterious, and all around disturbing in a way that only these guys (or maybe early 80s Swans) could achieve. From there on out, it takes a dip in quality from which it only briefly recovers during the fantastic “The World Looks Red.” Still, a great album, but one that’s a teensy bit lopsided in terms of quality.
8Sonic Youth
NYC Ghosts & Flowers


Overall Score | 3.63 | 🌕🌕🌕🌗🌑

🥇 Free City Rhymes
🥈 NYC Ghosts & Flowers
🥉 Renegade Princess

Continues to baffle me that this of all things remains the black sheep of Sonic Youth’s discography. What’s the deal? Had these people ever listened to Sonic Youth before? Was the Pitchfork hivemind this embarrassingly strong? And why is contemporary reappraisal yet to occur? This reminds me an awful lot of a rawer, more dissonant, and chilly harbinger for MURRAY STREET, an album that caused critics to almost ubiquitously cream their pantaloons. I’ll cede that it dawdles *a bit*, but this is miles and miles from “bottom o’ the pile” material.
7Sonic Youth
EVOL


Overall Score | 3.72 | 🌕🌕🌕🌗🌑

🥇 Expressway to Yr. Skull
🥈 Death to Our Friends
🥉 Tom Violence

The last album to contain any of the Youth’s no wave roots. Even then, they’re sparse (the opener e.g. aims for the trademark structureless atonality, but still manages to somehow sound like a song-song), but contribute a gritty undercurrent that evokes the dread of their earliest albums while offering something immensely more palatable for the people who heard BAD MOON RISING or CONFUSION IS SEX and wanted to put their head in an oven. At one point this would’ve been a little further down on the list, but it continues to grow in my estimation. Ages well, apparently.
6Sonic Youth
Washing Machine


Overall Score | 3.77 | 🌕🌕🌕🌕🌑

🥇 Unwind
🥈 The Diamond Sea
🥉 No Queen Blues

Sonic Youth’s most earnest homage to WHITE LIGHT / WHITE HEAT. It’s more than just the uber-long, quasi-improvised, impending closer, too - it’s the dissonance, the fuzzy atmosphere, the hypnotism, the lackadaisical vocal delivery (both Moore and Gordon deliver some of their best work here). Could use some tightening up, to be sure, but sometimes you gotta kick back and be grateful for the sprawl. It’s not the fastest sixty-eight minutes ever, but maybe the most painless.
5Sonic Youth
Sonic Youth


Overall Score | 3.80 | 🌕🌕🌕🌕🌑

🥇 I Dreamed a Dream
🥈 The Burning Spear
🥉 The Good and the Bad

Frankly the Sonic Youth fanbase should be ashamed for letting this album* slip through the cracks and seep down among the lowest rung of their oeuvre, ratings-wise. Sure, it sounds practically nothing like anything from EVOL (or even BAD MOON RISING) onward…but so what? This is some of the jammiest No Wave music that sprouted from the scene. Reminds me of what Slint might sound like had none of them passed Calculus. (Yes that is a “math” rock joke. I’ll be here all night.) Dark and foreboding, not to mention supremely minimalistic in the best way. Don’t skip this one, guys.
4Sonic Youth
Goo


Overall Score | 3.85 | 🌕🌕🌕🌕🌑

🥇 Kool Thing
🥈 Tunic (Song for Karen)
🥉 Mote

The first Sonic Youth album I fell in love with, many years ago. And while a few albums have surpassed it, it remains in the upper echelon of their catalog. It’s the most accessible they ever got without sacrificing an ounce of the rough edges upon which they were built. As such, were someone looking to get into Sonic Youth and ask me for a recommendation, this’d be it. (Yes, even over DAYDREAM NATION, whose girth might scare away newcomers.) Their best album cover, too, obviously.
3Sonic Youth
Sister


Overall Score | 4.05 | 🌕🌕🌕🌕🌑

🥇 Schizophrenia
🥈 Stereo Sanctity
🥉 White Cross

Truly feels like a precursor to DAYDREAM NATION - a little noisier, maybe, but the traditionalism they began to incorporate with EVOL ossifies a little more here. I’d peg this as the first Sonic Youth album, chronologically, that best represents the sound that would eventually define their entire career. It’s got a good bit of everything they’ve ever or would ever dabble in - a Sonic Youth pu pu platter, if you will. Quite tasty.
2Sonic Youth
Daydream Nation


Overall Score | 4.25 | 🌕🌕🌕🌕🌗

🥇 ‘Cross the Breeze
🥈 Teen Age Riot
🥉 Candle

An undeniable classic, the perfect amalgam of noise and tonality. Sounds as fresh now as it probably did back in ’88, and while many since then have tried to mimic this exquisite blend of abrasion and harmony, none have been able to emulate it this effectively. There was once a time I thought this album was too long. I was young and naïve back then. Front to back, bangers across the board.
1Sonic Youth
Bad Moon Rising


Overall Score | 4.31 | 🌕🌕🌕🌕🌗

🥇 I’m Insane
🥈 Death Valley ‘69
🥉 Society Is a Hole

Takes the best parts of CONFUSION IS SEX and stretches them to a full-length album, adding an atmosphere that’s a bit more coherent but every bit as harrowing and dismal. The way the tracks sort of all bleed together makes my slacks tight. Album cover is a perfect representation of what lies within; Americana at its bleakest, but perhaps its most honest. Society is a hole, indeed. For my money, the absolute best The Youth have to offer.
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