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Editors’ Notes

Nirvana’s surprise success in 1991 put an unusual amount of suspicion on the alternative nation that had been growing since the early 1980s. Cries of “sell out” were all too common and every creative move was scrutinized for its sense of purity. Sonic Youth opted to record Dirty, the follow-up to their major label debut Goo, with Nirvana producer Butch Vig (who had a ton of indie cred before Nirvana, it should be noted). However, the group hardly made a big, slick hard rock record. Yes, several songs are more “conventional” than the group’s usual sprawling atonal, feedback/alternate tuning instrumental jams, but the sound is pretty true to the album’s title. Recorded at a slower tape speed to retain the band’s trademark grit, Dirty is the sound of a non-traditional rock band lending its voice to the world at large. Where their earlier material concerned their own insular world and spoke in private language (and there’s plenty of that here), several tunes address the outside world of 1992. “Swimsuit Issue” handles sexual harassment. “Youth Against Fascism” is informed by the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill hearings. But the band’s best moments are the simple clanging chug of “100%,” the two-chord shift of “Sugar Kane” and the amateurish grind of “Crème Brulee.”

Customer Reviews

Worth owning

OK, First off... ignore the angry die hard sy fans when you read reviews of this album online. They feel that sy betrayed their core fans with this album. And in a way they might think they are correct. But, by no means are they correct. I read this type of thing quite a bit from different reviewers... "band so and so, has lost what made them great! I'm never buying another album of theirs ever again!!" It's sheer silliness and isn't making a case for the album they are supposedly reviewing, it's just an attempt to make their musical taste seem elite (my best guess anyway). All that has happened is the artist has matured as songwiters and musicians and the listeners have obviously not, hence they reject the 'new sound'. And sy's "Dirty" album is a perfect example of Thurston, Lee, Kim and Steve growing into full artists. I love all their music and hearing how far they have come, I can appreciate this album fully and so should you. Every single song on here is solid, even the quirky "Créme Brûlèe". Don't let the hardcore sy fans make you miss this album, and I hope it encourages you to buy "EVOL" and "Daydream Nation" so you too can enjoy listening to the progressive material of sy's work.


Anyone who appreciates Sonic Youth should own this album. This is one of my favorite SY albums, and to decry Sy of selling out,as some of these posts suggest is foolish. Also, the review says Sugar Kane as two chords...Uh,no..SY cannot be summed up in two chords. Figure out their wizadry, which is impossible, so just enjoy the album. Kurt Cobain loved SY , and he loved this album. There are many good reasons for loving this album : it has a feel to it, maybe reminds you of driving to a party in high school or listening to music alone in your room through your headphones or coming back from work and blaring Sugar Kane loud as hell. Can Britney Spears' music do that? No, and it never will. SY is the real deal, and they have NEVER sold out. And they have made better records than you have.


just not up to par with their previous releases. but when an album is worse than the four before it, and still gets 4 stars, that shows you how great the band is.


Formed: 1981 in New York, NY

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Sonic Youth were one of the most unlikely success stories of underground American rock in the '80s. Where contemporaries R.E.M. and Hüsker Dü were fairly conventional in terms of song structure and melody, Sonic Youth began their career by abandoning any pretense of traditional rock & roll conventions. Borrowing heavily from the free-form noise experimentalism of the Velvet Underground and the Stooges, and melding it with a performance art aesthetic borrowed from the New York post-punk avant-garde,...
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