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“The Watchers” is a film adaptation of the 2022 book of the same name by A.M. Shine.
Review: “The Watchers”
Published June 13, 2024

CD REVIEW

 

 

 

Sonic Youth

MURRAY STREET

Interscope

 

It is difficult to stay in a long-term relationship with a band. Things change, you grow apart, and one day at the record store you decide to just be friends and see other artists. You will always have the memories: Playing their album exclusively for a month, long car rides, intimate headphone listening, and so on. But now your lust for the band’s entire catalogue has faded and you hardly noticed their most recent releases. Every so often though, a band surpasses the honeymoon period and returns to your stereo again and again. This is the beauty of Sonic Youth. They possess the rare ability to hold on to longtime fans while perpetually gaining new listeners. Despite the band’s 20-year history, they keep the romance alive like a 70-year-old couple that still holds hands and gazes into each other’s eyes. And that’s the key to what makes this album so good: It is still fresh and still exciting.

The instant Murray Street flows from your speakers, goose bumps awaken from the skin as Thurston Moore issues an eerie warning, “These are the words but not the truth;” an ageless statement anyone can relate to regardless of whether they grew up with Nixon or with Enron. Each Moore-penned song resembles a shaken soda can, ready to explode. By the time he sings on “Disconnection Notice,” “They seem to think I’m disconnected/don’t think I know what to read or write or say,” the kids should be holding hands in a giant circle around a burning Clear Channel.

Murray Street, astoundingly, merges the best of Sonic Youth ñ the pop with the noise. Each song plants a memorable melody in the brain before blasting off into a voluptuous pit of experimental and improvisational clamor. As fun as simple pop songs can be, sometimes more substance is needed without straying too far into the dark alley of the unhummable avant-garde. The nearly eight minute “Rain On Tin” shines by remaining focused on a steady composition with windy guitars that eventually crash into one another before unwinding themselves to finish with what truly resembles droplets of falling rain.

Crouched down, presumably twitching her tail like a tiger stalking its prey, Kim Gordon waits until the last two tracks to pounce. A mighty roar leaps out in “Plastic Sun” as Gordon chants, “I hate you and your bitchy friends!” followed by stabbing guitars that come right out of the shower scene in Psycho.

But just as Gordon ñ the 50-foot woman ñ sounds ready to destroy all the TRL pop-princesses, her persona fades as she shrinks with childlike innocence on “Sympathy for the Strawberry.” Her voice, shaky and unpolished, weaves in and out of tune as if performing her first elementary school recital. “Strawberry’s” lyrics begin as a harmless kitten (“Let me introduce you/Since you saw my shadow self”) and ends with a scratch on the wrist (“Prickly patch don’t you stand on me/Squishing down in the mud ahh!”). Gordon’s piece wraps up Murray Street nicely by infusing brawn with gentleness, urgency with patience, and haze with clarity, combinations only Sonic Youth could pull off so smoothly.

Indie snobs may try to tell you with their nose pointed to the sky that Murray Street is inferior to past Sonic Youth albums. Don’t listen to the elitists! Instead, crank up the volume and shout “Ask me if I care!” with Lee Ranaldo on “Karen Revisited,” because it hardly matters what Sonic Youth has done before; this album is good ñ really good. It’s like falling in love with Sonic Youth all over again. (Keri Carlson)

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