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Sonic Youth
EVOL


4.5
superb

Review

by something vague USER (16 Reviews)
January 18th, 2006 | 100 replies


Release Date: 1986 | Tracklist


After giving it quite a bit of thought lately, I have come to the conclusion that the most accurate comparison involving Sonic Youth would be that of Edgar Allen Poe. Both artists have their similarities; the knack for creating atmosphere, vivid imagary brought forth by the written word, the ability to instill a sort of dense, unpredictable feeling in the reader or listener, etc. Most importantly, though, is that both are both extreme forms of human, whether it through dark tales of plague and irony (The Masque of the Red Death) or perhaps split-minded personality (later, on"Schizophrenia"). Edgar Allen Poe's writing gives off a sense of morbid lust, dense atmosphere, the cryptic, irony, one's conscious, fear, and several other primal emotions that every human experiences at one point or another. And that is exactly what Sonic Youth accomplished with the recording of EVOL.

The cover art of EVOL is a still from Richard Kern's 1985 film [url=http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0230825/]Submit to Me[/url], that of actress Lung Leg in an awkward, but otherwordly-ferocious looking state. Kern was a leader in independent filmmaking and photography, despite the often disturbing subject matter of his work. All art aside, there are several other interesting things concerning the conception of EVOL and the times surrounding it. Circa June 1985, then drummer Bob Bert left the band, and was soon replaced by ex-Cruci***s percussionist Steve Shelley, who has been with the band for full 20 years this summer. Evol also marks Lee Ranaldo's first solo vocal performance ("In the Kingdom #19"), and Mike Watt's, former bassist of the punk icons the Minutemen, first guest spot on a Sonic Youth record.

EVOl also signified a new era for Sonic Youth at that time. Ironically enough, the band had recently signed to the independent punk label SST, home to such bands as Black Flag and Husker Du, despite the fact that their sound had slowly been progressing from claustraphobic noise/skronk to a more melodic, but still equally experimental whateveryoucallit sound. "Tom Violence" finds Sonic Youth instantly diving into atmospheric, echoed noise-rock anthems, with Thurston Moore shouting lines such as "My violence is a dream" while the tension piles up and the band lets loose, but actually goes straight back into the next verse, almost playing with the automatic want of a release of that tension. Later on, the seven minute "Expressway to Yr. Skull" plays with this, thought proving more anthemic and lyrically interesting ("We're gonna kill the California girls!"). The full-out sound of EVOL, though, is not as easily described as I would hope. The songs switch between certain aesthetics, even through the course of one song, whether it be pretentious noise-rock anthems and spoken-word reflections or mellow, densely produced slow-burners and more pop-minded songs.

Oh, what these "pop-minded" songs I speak of? Heck, Jem Finch, they's be "Star Power", "Green Light", and the CD bonus track "Bubblegum". With the exception of "Star Power", these songs are the only songs that fail to capture much interest; the melodies are bland and uninspired, the compositions are the same old Sonic Youth, especially in the "hazy but melodic" state of EVOL, and are in general just flat-out forgettable. Besides these flops (not that of Thurston Moore's hair), the songs conceiled within the confines of EVOL are as wonderful as they are....wonderful. "Shadow of a Doubt" finds Kim Gordon at her absolute best; speaking in a paranoid hush about love with a stranger, what seems to be a suicide pact, etc. while being accompanied by music that could easily be described as "mysterious" and "ethereal", but it goes so far beyond that; almost drowning out the regret in Kim's voice with hazy, but airy harmonics and tom flourishes. It was inspired by two Alfred Hitchcock films, Stranger on a Train and Shadow of a Doubt.

The two true spoken-word pieces on EVOL are also, naturally, the most intruiging and particularly enthralling song on the album. On "In the Kingdom #19", we find Lee Ranaldo hastily, but monotonously, belting out line after another of abstract imagery concerning whatever; one's state of being, mortality.. it is everything and nothing, a horror flick without the blunt slashing; a novel without a plot. The music is as chaotic and sci-fi like as the song, and that goes without being said, while "Secret Girl" is practically guitar-less, where distant, cryptic piano swirls around as Kim mumbles about. Thinking, again...it's amazing to think that EVOL was released in 1986, the year that saw hair metal dominate the charts. I'm sure there were some other things that sucked that year two, but y'know what? That doesn't really matter much.

Quote:
Originally Posted by EVOL Liner Notes - Lisa Crystal Carver
These songs say dreams are real. I can't think of a finer guide than "E.V.O.L." for a young person just discovering the wide world. Here are songs of total exploration, no positioning oneself on the dark side or the anti-dark side. Here are songs of total freedom. Give them to your little sister on her birthday.
"I'D GIVE MY SOUL TO BE WHERE I WAS A YEAR AGO...IF I HAD A SOUL LEFT TO GIVE"



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4.1
excellent
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DhA (5)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Storm In A Teacup
January 19th 2006


33190 Comments


And here is the first review of 2006 that will be a contender for the Sputnikmusic awards next year!
All-around fantastic job Vague. :thumb:

Digging: Soundtrack (Video Game) - The Legend of Dragoon

pulseczar
January 19th 2006


2385 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice work Holland. I don't know if this deserves a 4.5 though if there are those two tracks that are dull and uninteresting. I've only heard Tom (hey that's me!) Violence and Expressway To Yr. Skull from EVOL.

NEDM
January 19th 2006


1113 Comments


This is one of your finest reviews vague. Nice work, I'll be getting this ASAP.

ocelot-05
January 19th 2006


807 Comments


Excellent review, vague. Your Poe comparison gave a very good idea of the subject matter of EVOL. I haven't heard much of Sonic Youth, other that what my mum used to play in the car. I'll give them a good listen.

JohnXDoesn't
January 19th 2006


1393 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review! It reminds me of my own, lol :p





hehehe. Seriously, though. I like this album a lot and you capture it nicely. This was the album that first introduced me to Sonic Youth and I've had an on again/off again love affair with the band ever since. This album is part of the love part. And again, real nicely written review.This Message Edited On 01.18.06

Zebra
Moderator
January 19th 2006


2647 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Nice review, you did a good job in using a lot of descriptive words.

I don't have this album, I'm currently planning on getting three different SY albums but I always find something more interesting whenever I go to buy cd's. Since you gave this a 4.5/5 I think I'm forced to check this out sometime in the near future.

masada
January 19th 2006


2733 Comments


I thought it was a good addition, considering I'm on my fourth reading of To Kill a Mockingbird. Perhaps my next review will have a Boo Radley reference. :p

edit: the jury should be in on Daydream Nation by now.This Message Edited On 01.19.06

Jawaharal
January 19th 2006


1832 Comments


I would go buy this but WoW is too important and 30 minutes away from it will most likely send me into a violent rampage.

Neoteric
January 20th 2006


3243 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Top review vague. Thanks for getting me into this band though I haven't heard this album yet.

pulseczar
January 28th 2006


2385 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I finally got around to listening to this, I nice 4 for me. Most of the songs are just awesome, some others are too slow. The guitar work on the album is great, really unique from other Youth albums, as usual with them. It reminds me of the Cure's albums Faith/Pornography.



Edit: Expressway to Yr. Skull is one of the greatest Youth songs ever.This Message Edited On 01.28.06

masada
January 30th 2006


2733 Comments


Yeah, "Expressway to Yr. Skull" is easily one of their best songs. Or should I say... "The Crucifixion of Sean Penn"..... or "Madonna, Sean, and Me".This Message Edited On 05.05.06

hits of sunshine
April 16th 2006


10 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

EVOL = LOVE

One of my favorites.This Message Edited On 04.16.06

masada
June 13th 2006


2733 Comments


THE SONIK LUV

Two-Headed Boy
June 27th 2006


4527 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

After giving it quite a bit of thought lately, I have come to the conclusion that the most accurate comparison involving Sonic Youth would be that of Edgar Allen Poe. Both artists have their similarities; the knack for creating atmosphere, vivid imagary brought forth by the written word, the ability to instill a sort of dense, unpredictable feeling in the reader or listener, etc. Most importantly, though, is that both are both extreme forms of human, whether it through dark tales of plague and irony (The Masque of the Red Death) or perhaps split-minded personality (later, on"Schizophrenia"). Edgar Allen Poe's writing gives off a sense of morbid lust, dense atmosphere, the cryptic, irony, one's conscious, fear, and several other primal emotions that every human experiences at one point or another. And that is exactly what Sonic Youth accomplished with the recording of EVOL.




This is, quite frankly, brilliant.



I need to get this soon.

Spectrum
June 29th 2006


347 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

There are some things about the album that don't quite work for me, but beyond a few moments and "Green Light", the rest of the album is excellent. I actually like "Bubblegum", despite it's slightly stale, repetitive nature, it's still quite hooky. And I'm not sure how many times I've listened to "Star Power" by now, but I think I pretty much know it inside and out.



This album is much more raw than the later Daydream Nation, but much of it hits with the same level of impact. Especially "Shadow of a Doubt". Oh, and I love the atmospheric section at the end of "Expressway", with the bass dropping down half-stepwise over the low E - just awesome.



Oh, and might I add, SUPERB review. Absolutely high quality.This Message Edited On 06.28.06

The Jungler
July 31st 2006


4826 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is my second favorite Sonic Youth CD, tis almost perfect sans maybe the last two tracks.

I don't know why, but this album appeals to me much more than Sister (though I'll be listening to it again soon to make an exectutive decision). Good work Liminator.

Cygnus Inter Anates
July 31st 2006


721 Comments


What, "Expressway to Yr. Skull" isn't good?

Crazy.

The Jungler
July 31st 2006


4826 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It's not on the copy of the CD I listened to. Instead there's a song called Madonna, Sean and Me which I didn't like as much as the rest of the album. Maybe I should give it another listen though.



EDIT: hmmm, I guess they're the same song. It is a bit better though now with the second listen. Just not my favorite.This Message Edited On 07.31.06

The Jungler
August 25th 2006


4826 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

So I'm pretty much a fool. Expressway is incredible, as is the whole CD. I might like Sister more now though.

AlienEater
August 26th 2006


716 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Bubblegum rules. This is my second or third favourite Sonic Youth album.



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