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Trees Outside the Academy

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Editors’ Notes

Yes, the second solo album from Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore does present a softer, more reflective musician. Whereas bleeding feedback squalls often accentuate the percolating chaos that permeates Sonic Youth’s experimental works, on his own Moore has turned down the volume and allowed Samara Lubelski’s strings to weave their hypnotic spell around the dense drones that he’s also been focusing on with Rather Ripped-era Sonic Youth. “The Shape is in a Trance” recalls a late-‘60s English-folk aura, while “Honest James” sounds nearly country in its demure cadence, singer Christina Carter adding atmospheric and chilling background vocals to Moore’s plaintive mumble. Even the introductory feedback of “Fri/ End” serves as a tease, a short prelude to a quick-stepping singalong that could come from the Meat Puppets’ ‘80’s catalog. “American Coffin” is closer to SY’s experimental forays, offering a piano instrumental that sounds like incidental music to a short indy film. “Wonderful Witches + Language Meanies” ups the tempo, but it’s still a quiet rocker compared to Moore’s usual sprawl. Seems Moore has struck mellow gold.

Customer Reviews

Pretty Good

I won't say that I'd rather hear this album than Psychic Hears, but this has some truly outstanding stuff on it. If you are a long-time Sonic Youth fan, this will certainly be something you want to add to your collection. It's got a fresh sound.


This is an album of 11 perfect songs + a funny "sound theater" track Thurston made @ 13 yrs old + a 0:37 track of weird noize. Some of these songs have bits, riffs & tones that sound like they were copied straight off the last coupla Sonic Youth albums - but they have a whole new life on this disk. The songs are mostly Thurston on acoustic guitar, the amazing Steve Shelly on drums, and every now and then J. Mascis shows up with guitar blazing in hand. Samara Lubelski's violin initially threw me off, but now I love it - it adds a deep flowing texture against Thurston's clean guitar playing. There isn't much feedback or volume on this album, but there are waves upon waves of music, and it's all interesting and great. Perfect for running, driving, thinking, feeling. Get it. I want to see it live.

Thurston does it again

This is a very tuneful, satisfying release. If you liked the more melodic stylings of Rather Ripped, you'll like this. It's even more lush. Honest James is lovely.


Born: July 25, 1958 in Coral Gables, FL

Genre: Alternative

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

Although a key member of the critically acclaimed art/punk rock band Sonic Youth, Thurston Moore has also been involved in numerous side projects, including the Dim Stars with Richard Hell and Even Worse. His first solo album, Psychic Hearts (recorded during and immediately after his wife and Sonic Youth bassist Kim Gordon's pregnancy in 1994), with ex-Half Japanese guitarist Tim Foljahn and Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley, had an appropriately offhand feel but was far from sloppy. Along with carrying...
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