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Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star

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Editors’ Notes

At a juncture in its career when it was in danger of becoming a respectable rock 'n' roll band, Sonic Youth threw the kind of curveball perfected by Neil Young, an artist the group had once opened for. Goo and Dirty had figured out the combination for unlocking the enigma of SY's artful avant-rock noise, so Experimental went about resetting that combo. It's the most laid-back album in Sonic Youth's official catalog (not counting film soundtracks). The acoustic "Winner's Blues" and the single "Bull in the Heather" remain tonally true to Sonic Youth's approach but with deliberately mild results. There's a simple unadorned beauty to "Skink," and an unusually sedate version of Sonic Youth's dissonance is on display with the caterwauling "Screaming Skull." Even the discordant punk of "Androgynous Mind" has an orderliness to its chaos. Much of the reason for this is Butch Vig's smart, clean production. He brings the instruments into distinct focus and leaves enough room for the vocals to breathe.

Customer Reviews


This record is one of the finest in SYs canon. I think many critics and self-professed "indie rock afficianados" overlook the delicate and aggressive juxtapostion on this record to a fault. Great cuts on this record include Self-Obsessed and Sexxee, Starfield Road, Winner's Blues (can you sing along to 'Watt here. Thurston, did you find yr sht?'? Well, you can hum along to this, big guy.) Rock just doesn't get any better than this. I find this record more challenging and more interesting than Daydream Nation in almost every way. While it may not work as a starter record for burgeoning SY fans, it's essential to grasp their dynamic sound.

Adventurous Music for a band that defined "adventurous"...

Sonic Youth were the most progressive band of the eighties. Hands down. Ministry is a close second, but Sonic Youth may understand every piece of the musical spectrum. The raw noise on _Confusion is Sex_ and certain parts of _EVOL_ broke all the rules. Which is exactly why they're even more groundbreaking in a melodic setting. Wheather you're in a smoke-filled haze ("Skink") or partying all night ("Self-Obssesed and Sexxee"), _EJSTAN_ is the perfect burnout soundtrack. Grmatically speaking, it isn't the's the exception. The band had become so commercial tat they had to run away from it all, inevidibly paving the way for "Bull in Heather"'s modest sucess. Though prists will scoff and hug their copys of _EVOL_, though casual listeners will turn away and blast _Goo_, though the stoners will continue to worship _Daydream Nation_, I think this album may be their finest work. Buy it...make your own decisions.

It has grown on me.

Wasn't my favorite at first, but songs like Tokyo Eye, Androgynous Mind, Quest For The Cup, Screaming Skull, and Bull In The Heather have made me love this album.


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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