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Experimental Jet Set
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Their third album for a major label saw a complete about face for this inspirational New York band. Sonic Youth had unwittingly ushered in grunge with their last indie album, 1988's Daydream Nation, then with 1990's Goo and 1992's Dirty. But following bassist and singer Kim Gordon's production of the Hole debut LP Pretty On The Inside, the band became a figurehead for the Riot Grrrl movement, and this 1994 missive reflects the new sense of experimentation unleashed by that maelstrom. It works too, though the inherent frailty takes time to accommodate when back-to-back with the easy libido of Dirty's "100%" and "Sugar Kane". On tracks like "Bull In The Heather", "Quest For The Cup" and "Skink", the pace quickens and slows, the vocals lurch off beat and tune, the guitars creating a sparse climate newly morphed from their previous wall of sound. But the aim of this project is ultimately the same as always: cool, in turns funny, angry or emotional songs that take the language of iconography ("Screaming Skull", "Self-Obsessed and Sexxee") to create the most recognisable sound in the American avant-garde. --Charlie Porter
Top Customer Reviews
There's not a bad song on it, and all the songs have a similar feel which makes the album fit together nicely as a whole, standout tracks include Self Obsessed And Sexxee, which has an infectious melody and Kim's singing fits perfectly here.
I'm also endeared to the first track Winner's Blues, with guitars chiming reminiscent of Daydream Nation songs.
It's all good though, so don't make the mistake of overlooking this album as i did, as with persistent listens it reveals itself to be just as good as, if not better, than any of the other S.Y. albums you'd care to mention.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
You've got to admire the kind of self-assuredness that would enable this band to record an album as aggressively unconventional as this, regardless of major label expectations, and after their ascendancy into the new practically-mainstream "Alternative" genre (that absurdity of absurdities) fostered by Nirvana in the early 90's. Speaking of which, producer Butch Vig seems to be something of a fifth wheel here - you can hear that for all intents and purposes, this is a self-produced album. I read in an interview that on occasion while recording, he'd ask for a second take on a song, and they'd simply refuse. The band are in complete command of their craft here, and they need no one but themselves to help them prove it. Uncompromising and dedicated to the last, Sonic Youth are truly a band without peers.
11 years later I still love to spin my copy (in beautiful blue vinyl) all while where the "Experimental... t-shirt, I bought so many years ago. This album plays like an audio yearbook allowing me to transport back to when I first heard it. God bless 1994.
I make no claim that this is SY's finiest hour but it is certainly not thier weakest effort. (leave that to NYC Ghosts and Flowers).
I can't get enough of "Doctor's Orders"
"Bull in the Heather" is a classic, as is its video with that Le Tigre girl cameoed in it. Kim has an excellent voice on it, as well as it being loved among the fans. The outro part sounds real cool.
Opener "Winner's Blues" is a real nice track, as it's an acoustic-like track, a brilliant track on this album.
I just love "In the Mind of the Bourgeois Reader". It's a punk-like track here, probably the fastest one, and Thurston sounds as if he's having a lot of fun during the recording of it. Then it goes into "Sweet Shine" the only song with any real length on the album. It's a great love song.
She has some pretty interesting tracks as well. Her style overall has a sexy sound to it. "Bone" is very awesome, I love the energy of the drums on it, then the chords are well-progressed. It's just a real memorable one on this album. She sings 7 of the 14 songs.
'Experiental Jet Set, Trash and No Star' is something that really shines on track 12 "Tokyo Eye", a very noisy song. It's very awesome to listen to either in the car or on your stereo.
This one's good for introducing people to SY. I got this January of this year, and I think it's excellent. There are some flaws, but overall, I think it's pretty good. The songs are very short, which helps, 'cuz it doesn't really contain enough epic stuff. So yeah, I am recommending it here. Esp. if you don't like the mainstream much and think that this sounds cool, like I do.
Gordon's songs are similar to her contributions on A Thousand Leaves and Washing Machine, the frequently recurring plunge into the mindsets of young isolated youngsters with a haunting curiousity for the unknown (such as the suggestive sexual exploration of "Bone", the 'paranormal desert at night' feeler "Skink", the naive and unsuspecting misfithood of "Bull In THe Heather", and the album's best track- "Sweet Shine" which is more of an exuberant trip back to a beautiful place where she was born rather than a teenage experience). Her other songs match up with a good portion of Thurston's on this record-cynical, opinionated views of certain situations. This is portrayed on her part with "Doctor's Orders" (about a perfect, preppy girl trying to cure an orgasm problem and ending up being addicted to the drugs) and "Quest For THe Cup" (actually that one borders between personal experience and cynic's view, but it doesn't matter really.)
Thurston's contributions in this area include the great "Androgynous Mind" (a sardonic look at religiously homophobic behaviour in common males), "Waist" (young teens who throw away their lives rather than trying to make something of themselves), "Self Obsessed And Sexy" (about a love/hate relationship with a schizophrenic) and "In THe Mind Of The Bourgeouis Reader" (all pure cynicism and beatnik culture, "We don't care about Yogi Bear and Fonzy's ponytail and dirty hair, so get back in the boat!"). Thurston's other songs fall in the uncatergorizable confusion seen moreso in older records, like the fragmented rapist imagery of "Starfield Road" or the scifi meditating melodrama "Tokyo Eye", can't forget the free association of "Screamng Skull" (Upon re-peering through William S. Burroughs' Naked Lunch, I found those exact words. Not surprising since Sonic Youth, like me, owe alot of lyrical inspiration to Mr. Burroughs). Moore also has an SY first, the lofi acoustic ballad "Winner's Blues"...
The bonus track which combines a Japanese voice and guitar feedback is also worth an honorable mention...but the true ender is, and I must say it again, the lovely & transcendant "Sweet Shine". uoiuoip y yu889 blurpity 666 by luck