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Sonic Nurse

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Editors’ Notes

2004's Sonic Nurse follows in the spirit of Murray Street, with songs that intend to be more accessible than Sonic Youth's more avant-garde releases. The drier sound brought about by new member/producer Jim O'Rourke is still in effect, making the group sound much more concise as a result. Bassist Kim Gordon handles vocals on four tracks, including the expressive opener, "Pattern Recognition," and the wistful "I Love You Golden Blue." Thurston Moore gives tenderness a shot with the melodic and restrained "Unmade Bed" and bops along with something approaching pop for "Dripping Dream," where even the extended instrumental coda stays melodic and well-thought out. How odd when the aggressive tunes on a Sonic Youth album—in this case, "Kim Gordon and the Arthur Doyle Hand Cream" and "New Hampshire"—are the ones that sound out of place. But the punk aggression is at odds with much of the album's reflective tone. Sonic Nurse manages to craft new territory for Sonic Youth without losing the band's soul in the process.

Customer Reviews

Jim Rourke has got to go...

Much of this record is excellent. In fact, the songcraft, lyrics, and production are just the right balance for a modern SY record. The only problem is Jim's third guitar. It's just too much. It adds harmony, not dissonance. It adds jammy-ness, not interest. It's too much of a good thing. Other bands can rely on this to get the spinners spinning and the busses burning the incense. Let Jim work the synth, mix in some noise, some hammers for rockin', but good heavens, get him off the ryhthm strings. If this goes on we'll have "Steal Yr Skull" bumper stickers that say, "Who are SY, and why are they following me?" With that tirade aside, this is one heck of a good record. Kim's vocals really shine on this release and I wondered if she'd ever sing this way again. Thurston waxes poetic, but more than makes up for it with driving guitar interplay with Lee. Speaking of Lee, he has only one song as lead vocals on this record. It's a departure from most of his other songs, but if yr familiar with his writing/poetry/film, then PCE will just fill in as soundscape soundtrack to that journey. This paragraph could have come first: Steve Shelley never sounded so good. I think his skin bashing here is as good as rock drumming gets. All hail Steve Shelley. All hail the cruci-fx. He's ruling. His rocker is hammering on every track. He plays quality and soulful syncopation so well you'll want to listen to the skins at 11. A four star record ONLY because Jim has to get off this "unifying the band with a 3rd guitar" role. Forget the unification. Make it riot.

Really Good

One of their top 5 ever. I think Jim O' Rourke's guitar adds another dimension to their sound.

4 and a Half Stars for this Mellow Sonic Youth Album

This is one of my favorite Sonic Youth albums. From the first song to the last, this album delievers a constant vibe and slightly mainstream songs that make the album what it is. Kim Gordon happens to be singing on more than half of the songs on this album...which is unfortunate for my ears. I have almost all of SY's albums, and this is one of the most creative. And by creative, I don't mean the usual noise and jam breaks that SY may take, but I mean the creativity in the witty lyrics and quieter guitar riffs. "Stones" is by far one of the best SY songs ever released. This album is not groundbreaking, but it's sure great to SY standards.


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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