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Bad Moon Rising

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iTunes Review

Bad Moon Rising is a pivotal album in Sonic Youth's catalog. It's the last to feature second drummer Bob Bert (Steve Shelley would take over from here) and the first to explore traditional song structures. The group's Glenn Branca–influenced No Wave origins can still be heard in the sturm und drang of the guitars through the droning "Society Is a Hole," but there's a sense that Sonic Youth is finding a new balance between instrumental experiments and songwriting ambitions. "I Love Her All the Time" settles into a loopy tonal scheme that's either beautiful if you're a fan or an impenetrable mess if you're not sympathetic to Sonic Youth's approach. "Death Valley '69," a duet between Thurston Moore and Lydia Lunch, is a near-rocker that points to the group's future. The Flower EP is appended, with the excellent "Flower" and "Halloween" bringing Kim Gordon into the spotlight with a feminism and power that would provide a major inspiration to the Riot Grrrl movement.

Customer Reviews

Undeniably Raw, Undeniably The Greatest Album

Let's get something straight. There is no album in the entire corpus of indie rock -- not Loveless, not Surfer Rosa, not Psychocandy -- that reaches the heights of invention, joy, and magic of Sonic Youth's sublime third album. If your night out has ever been made by a floppy-haired stoner disemboweling a guitar; if you've ever had an out-of-body experience while hearing a record of disembodied vocal catatonia and libidinous murmurs; if you've ever gotten a contact high from a deliciously 'off' noise-rock tumult -- then you can thank this album. The haunted reveries of Bad Moon Rising remain with you for years, even if you only hear them once. This isn't a rock album -- it's mortar fire. It is the point at which Sonic Youth discovered a new and truly radicalized "psychedelic" music that owed nothing to Pet Sounds or Sgt Pepper's, but to an amalgamation of record store arcana, suburban Gnosticism, and teenage kicks. Their peers may have been rocking, droning, and caterwauling, but Sister is the sonic manifestation of refracted light. It's a record that changes you.


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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