Night Music: Sonic Youth, “Incinerate”

Peter’s post of Legs by ZZ Top prompted me to comment that if we, as humans, keep at a talent long enough, eventually the work and experience will coalesce into a representative work.

I suppose this harkens to the old give a typewriter to a monkey and eventually the ape will give you back a novel.

I don’t mean it that way, especially in the context of Sonic Youth, who have always worked to produce challenging music that pushes the bounds of art as rock.

Still, when they released their album Rather Ripped in 2006 (the band’s 14th) as the closest thing to a collection of pop tunes, the Youth finally scored a hit a la the Top with Eliminator.

I have seen the band a couple of times and while they were interesting, they were never as accessible as this. With a pair of guitar players, and a pair of bass players, no less.

One thought on “Night Music: Sonic Youth, “Incinerate”

  1. I didn’t understand Sonic Youth until I saw them live, at Roseland, maybe in 1992. Very loud, the well-tempered guitars were powerful and compelling, and the songs came together in a way they didn’t on record.

    But after that I got into the records, too. Over the years they made a number of more poppish songs, and most of them, like Incinerate, are not only catchy but ambitious. This is a band that always sounds good, but often sounds pretentious and not as much fun as you would like. Which, unfortunately, often makes their more accessible tunes sound like Wilco, a band that blatantly copped their experimental virtue and tried to popularize it.

    Which is why today I listen to the edgier stuff. Still pretentious, but it doesn’t sound like Wilco.

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