Classic Album of the Week: Sonic Youth-Daydream Nation

Daydream Nation is one of those records that came at the end of a decade and gave the world a taste of every sound that was about to explode all over a genre.  The band looked to DC hardcore and threw in some lengthy, Patti Smith spoken word art rock and also purely innovated new ideology.  The general brooding darkness–a byproduct of alternate guitar tunings and heavy distortion–would be all over the Seattle scene, whereas experimental moments–like the ambient track “Providence”–would influence the likes of Bark Psychosis and Godspeed! You Black Emperor.

Raucous riffs dominate, on some tracks underlying a fun vocal delivery before pounding the listener for huge swaths of time with a switch into minor yielding a noisy finale.  There’s a sense that the band came up with little, simple song structures, but they come at an irregular pace.  We open with Kim Gordon’s hazy spoken word, before a fun, marching tune sets in; “The Sprawl” ends with a spacey instrumental, then the singers don’t show up for another two minutes at the beginning of “Cross the Breeze.”

The lyrics capture the moods of the 20s with laying them out to obviously for you.  “I’m over the city, fucking the future” suggests mild arrogance; “I remember our youth, our high ideals” tells us about how the magic gets pummeled out of you.

When you take a step back, you see an 80-minute record that many consider a masterpiece, but the listening experience is never overly daunting and flies by with each stroke of that cheap guitar.


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