By Scott Thill
The sonic perfectionist Kevin Shields and his merry band of shoegazers had already firmly embedded themselves in modern rock history with the 1989 release of Isn't Anything, but it is My Bloody Valentine's peerless Loveless that has made the history books and influenced every band in the world that is experimenting with noise today. Shields almost bankrupted Creation records trying to get the ethereal walls of noise, reverb, distortion and feedback found at length on Loveless into sync, but the high price tag was worth it. Songs like "Only Shallow," "When
You Sleep," and "I Only Said" churn like unruly sonic surf to angelic vocals, until the whole tidal mess comes crashing down upon your eardrums like Armageddon. It's a curious hybrid, this refreshing intersection between sheer noise and melodic perfection that gave Sonic Youth a serious run for their money, and it has gone on since to cause bands like Mogwai, Southpacific, Slowdive, Ride and countless others to form their own similar walls of sound. But nothing can replace this original document of a musical genre in the midst of its brilliant twilight. Get it now.
Speaking of MBV, they were of course as influenced by
the world-beating Sonic Youth as any other alternative band looking to
carve itself a niche in a stale musical landscape. But Sonic Youth, always
the lifer, has been able to keep its momentum, even through inaccessible
releases like NYC Ghosts & Flowers and A Thousand Leaves. Their latest
release is a return of sorts to their standard avant-punk crunch, a healthy
respite from their more meandering recent effort, Murray Street. Another
nod to cyberpunk author William Gibson, "Pattern Recognition"
is a delicious slice of culture jamming, while the band's sense of humor
is as potent as ever on tunes like "Dude Ranch Nurse" and "Mariah
Carey and the Arthur Doyle Hand Cream." All in all, Sonic Nurse is
another refreshing brick in Sonic Youth's wall -- of noise.
OK, OK, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was an Exile on Main Street-type
classic that redefined Wilco as a band and most likely will never be topped
by them. But does that mean that every Wilco CD that comes after it must
suffer the lack of exposure and respect that has been afforded A Ghost
is Born? Like My Bloody Valentine's Loveless before it, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
raised unbelievable expectations that its authors may not be able to meet
in the future. But A Ghost is Born is still a hell of an album, better
than most of the krap on the radio -- any radio -- today. Songs like "Hell
is Chrome" betray a blues-soaked gravitas while catchy tunes like
"Less Than You Think" and "The Late Greats" are pop
delights. Yes, I said pop. See, Wilco can do it all, something the unfair
music world shouldn't forget while it anxiously awaits Yankee Hot Foxtrot
II. If it ever comes at all.
Visit Scott at www.Morphizm.com
© Melt Magazine 2004
t face="Bookman Old Style, Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="1" color="#CCCCCC">© Melt Magazine 2004