Sonic Youth | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Sonic Youth 

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

Now beginning their third decade, Sonic Youth are aging better than any rock group I can think of. On their newest album, Murray Street (DGC), they continue along the trajectory established by 1998's A Thousand Leaves: Where their 80s work had a hard, implacable drive, today they can make similarly motorik beats seem relaxed. And the sheets and arcs of guitar noise between tunes feel like reveries, more nuanced and musical than ever--the band seems to have control over them, rather than the other way around. Guitarist and vocalist Thurston Moore has taken to calling Murray Street the group's "classic rock album," and on "Radical Adults Lick Godhead Style," whose beat-poet lyrics recall 2000's NYC Ghosts & Flowers, he pays tribute to heroes from his teenage years: "From dust to dust, they create rock 'n' roll / Here comes something, you are Lou Reed / Transform the crowds by the backyard stream." But despite the rhetoric, the record's most immediately appealing riffs ("The Empty Page," "Karen Revisited") are hardly fist pumpers; instead they're hazy and subtle. And while the songs are the band's poppiest since 1995's Washing Machine, they frequently dissolve into (or coalesce out of) the kind of textural drift that's always been part of Sonic Youth's music, in one form or another. The Krautrockish "Rain on Tin" begins lazy and stretched out but gains focus with a deadpan, pointillistic guitar pattern that gets brighter and harder as it repeats. And "Karen Revisited," sung by guitarist Lee Ranaldo, marries Murray Street's most effective, forward-moving melody--with lyrics that update "Karen Koltrane," from A Thousand Leaves--to a feedback-strewn breakdown and lightly psychedelic coda dappled with judiciously applied wah-wah, all shaped by rising-sandstorm dynamics. Both shows are sold-out. Saturday and Sunday, August 17 and 18, 7 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Stefano Giovannini.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Michaelangelo Matos

  • How the USA fell for EDM, chapter one

    How the USA fell for EDM, chapter one

    In these excerpts from his lively and meticulous new book, The Underground Is Massive: How Electronic Dance Music Conquered America, longtime Reader contributor Michaelangelo Matos chronicles the three-decade ascent of EDM.
    • Apr 29, 2015
  • How Chicago house got its groove back

    How Chicago house got its groove back

    Chicago house music is the sound of global pop today. In the 90s, though, it was on life support—until a new wave of producers, including Cajmere and DJ Sneak, got the city doing the Percolator.
    • May 3, 2012
  • Mixed messages

    Mixed messages

    Fabric mixes from Craig Richards and Goldie and a DJ-Kicks mix from Motor City Drum Ensemble
    • Aug 11, 2011
  • More »

Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
Oslo Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place
September 10
Performing Arts
Bernhardt/Hamlet Goodman Theatre
September 14

Tabbed Event Search

Popular Stories