nd another addictive entry from a band that seeks to create its own niche rather than

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Sonic Youth, Dirty ( Expanded Edition)

Sonic Youth needs no introduction, which means they don't really need a re-introduction either. So why the Geffen label needed to remaster what perhaps may be one of their loudest albums ever, Dirty, is beyond me. But it's nevertheless a good buy if you don't already have it; next to Washing Machine, Daydream Nation and Goo, the underrated Dirty is one of the native New York noise outfit's finest releases ever.

Unlike much of their work before Goo and after Washing Machine, Steve Shelley's drums are turned up to 11, to coin a Spinal Tap phrase, and it only makes thunderous songs like "100%" and "Swimsuit Issue" bang that much harder. Remastered releases are usually an old industry gambit, a way to generate some revenue from a high-profile backlog. But, in true SY fashion, there's always something else going on, this time in the form of an extra CD stacked with sixteen blazing B-sides, filler and rehearsal tracks that'll make your ears bleed -- in a good way. Even on a bad day and no matter what the hacks say, Sonic Youth has always been worth the money. This latest installment of their musical genius is no different, even if it is a reissue.


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Dirty Three, Shee Has No Strings Apollo

You might not think it, but there are similarities between traditional instrumentalists, Dirty Three, and noise experimentalists, Sonic Youth. Both favor exploration over familiarity, transgression over convention, and both will probably not be heard on car stereos in the 'burbs. Plus, both have been around for quite a while.

Australia's Dirty Three recently celebrated their eleven-year anniversary by releasing this collection of addictive soundscapes with nothing but their usual violin (Warren Ellis), guitar Mick Turner) and drums (Jim White). The result is a set of seven hypnotic soundtracks to match whatever emotional swings you're experiencing in this year of wars and economic downturns. "Alice Wading" is a buzzing masterpiece of momentum and border town noir, while "She Has No Strings" is a heart-wrenching exercise until it fragments into cacophonous chaos. Dirty Three may be more stripped down than similar instrumental bands like Mogwai and the legendary Slint, but sometimes less is more.


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Aislers Set, How I Learned To Write Backwards

Speaking of wars and economic implosions, maybe its time to grab some indie pop to cheer yourself up and help you welcome the new day with some hard-to-find positivity. Look no further than the Aislers Set. Stacked with eleven short, jaunty nuggets topping off at four minutes, How I Learned to Write Backwards has firmly placed Amy Linton and crew in the company of lo-fi stars like Belle and Sebastian and the Apples in Stereo.

Linton's dreamy pipes help mainline light, airy songs like "Catherine Says" and "Mission Bells" into your nervous system, while the jangly pre-Life's Rich Pageant REM rhythms keep the demons away. And even when she slows down and gets positively Nico-like on "Sara's Song", it's a refreshing break from the overproduced angst spilling out of the emo-dominated pop, er, punk scene these days. There's room for everything, and Aislers Set seemed to have finally seized a niche of the indie landscape for their own.


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© Melt Magazine 2003