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  • Dirty
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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 20 September 2003
Dirty and Daydream Nation are the only two Sonic Youth albums I own, but they are both utterly amazing, though for different reasons. In the case of Dirty, its for cooler-than-cool, disaffected post-punk and grunge-pop. More song-based and straight-ahead rock than the somewhat proggy Daydream Nation, its nevertheless tempered with fine bursts of white noise, magical guitar duelling, grinding riffs and propelling, heavy bass.
Everyone mentions '100%' and 'Sugar Kane', and both are good, the former a driving, posturing, cool punk number and the latter a radio-friendly, poppy rock song. However this album by no means stops there. Springing to mind is the utterly wonderful 'Theresa's Sound-world' which builds from quiet, reflective melody to a wall of beautiful, heavy, ear-bleeding noise. 'Drunken Butterfly' is propelled by a catchy riff (recently ripped off by Cooper Temple Clause for their single 'Promises Promises') and an earnestly ironic chorus of 'I love you, I love you, I love you, what's your name?'.
Their political drive comes to the fore on the slower, but equally menacing 'Youth Against Fascism', which contains sneering vocals, a monster of a bass sound and guitars that sound as if they are being ritualistically tortured rather than played. The album veers from creepy ('Shoot', 'On The Strip') to all-out punk ('Orange Rolls, Angel's Spit' and the cover of 'Nic's Fit'). The more commercial 'Chapel Hill' sits alongside 'Sugar Kane' nicely, but every track on here has a sense of melody. Then there is a bit of lunacism, like the strange and twisted closer 'Creme Brulee'.
Every track on this album digs its own musical furrow and the album is all the better for it as despite its length of 15 tracks each one is worthy of high acclaim. Above all, listening to Dirty, you get the sense that they were influencing scores of alternative bands to come: much of the album seems a template for bands like My Vitriol, Cooper Temple Clause and Ikara Colt, 'Youth Against Fascism' seems to have influenced Mclusky and 'Chapel Hill' sounds like it may have wormed its way into the minds of the Manic Street Preachers at times. This is an amazing album, an equal of Daydream Nation, and probably the best starting point for newcomers to this brilliant band.
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on 1 July 2002
This is definitely the best album for a new fan to get into Sonic Youth. It has the softer (more commercial?) aspects of Goo, but is much more Sonic Youth than that album. 100% and Sugar Kane are by far the best tracks on Dirty, but the whole album is let down by Nic Fit. Yes, we all hate Black Flag, but why ruin an album over it. Cost them a star (no, it really is that bad). But as long as you just hit skip when that track comes up you'll be fine.
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on 7 August 2006
Dirty is one of Sonic Youth's more accessible records and as such it's an ideal starting point for new listeners looking to get into this hard-rocking band.

The songs on Dirty are short, angry, lean, tight and muscular. They are shot through with an urgent, breathless energy. The whole album has a punchy, chunky, straightforward sound and a clean Butch Vig production that admittedly sets it closer to Lollapalooza-era alternative rock than to previous Sonic Youth albums like EVOL, Sister or Daydream Nation. My only slight reservation is that in straying so close to Nirvana's grunge/punk territory, they don't sound as instantly distinctive as they do on, say, Sister, so it's not necessarily the most representative album of what Sonic Youth are about.

By the Youth's avant-garde art-rock standards these songs are relatively catchy, poppy and radio-friendly, but please don't let snobbery get in the way of a great rock album. There is so much to enjoy here, and there's still plenty of hard-rocking white noise for feedback fanatics to savour. Highlights include Kim Gordon's seductive, menacing Shoot; the brutal, hard-as-nails punk tantrums Swimsuit Issue and Drunken Butterfly; and the classic singles 100% and Sugar Kane.

Rock on!
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on 29 April 2012
I attend a monthly music club in Cardiff and April's classic album selected for discussion was 'Dirty' by Sonic Youth and I thought I may as well submit my thoughts on this forum.....

I gave the album 7 out of 10 so the question was...3 or 4 stars. I opted for 4 because the album did get better the more I listened to it.

I've always liked and admired Sonic Youth since I first heard them on John Peel in the mid 80s. Indeed, 'Schizophrenia' from their 'Sister' album remains one of my favourite songs from that decade by anyone. But try as I might, I just cannot love them. I think the reason for that is that SY just don't have enough tunes. They seem to favour noise and experimentalism over melody whereas my pallette is geared to the balance being the other way around. SY's contemporaries, for example, Husker Du, Pixies, Smashing Pumpkins and, of course, Nirvana, concentrated more on melody than noise and it is no coincidence that those I bands I love.

That said, Dirty does have enough good tunes for me to register a positive rating as there are only about 4 or 5 songs on it that I would consider as virtually unlistenable leaving enough tracks to get your ears around which range between ok to very good. Standouts for me include a brace that I remember from John Peel's Festive 50 programme from the early 90s - 'Sugar Kane' and 'Youth Against Fascism'. Also, 'Theresa's Sound World', 'Wish Fulfillment' and 'Chapel Hill'. For those of you thinking of trying out Sonic Youth, I would say this album is a good place to start. Others in the music club suggested Goo, from the year before, as also being amongst their more accessible works.
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on 31 March 2009
I remember reading a review for this album and a follow up band profile in the now expired Select magazine way back in 1992. I was an acne riddled 17 year old with a zealot attitude towards "good" music namely anything indie/alternative/experimental and "bad" music namely anything pop/MOR/AOR. I lost the original disc in a house move some years ago and speaking about my teens to my better half the other night following the final episode of Skins - Sonic Youth cropped up - when she mentioned Nirvana. I was astonished that she had never heard of Sonic Youth, being into Nirvana. So last week I bought this and what a buy. In amongst the grunge noise and feedback are well crafted songs filled with bitter sweet meloncholy. Like Interpol? Smashing Pumpkins? Nirvana? Pearl Jam? then you will like this album. And after a few listens you may just start to love it. One thing is for sure each track will throw out surprises when you least expect it. Almost, almost a masterpiece.
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on 5 May 2003
(If i could, id give it 6 stars)
'Dirty' would be considered one of Sonic Youth's more 'rockier' albums, which isn't surprising with such songs as 'Purr' and '100%'. Produced by Butch Vig (Nirvana - Nevermind, Smashing Pumpkins - Gish and Siamese Dream) it purely releases a sonic vibe throughout, from 'Wish Fulfillment' with emotion pouring out of it along side typical sonic youth dreamy guitar distortion to rawness of 'Drunken Butterfly'. Not one track on this album fails to impress.
The B-sides continue to show the radicalness of sonic youth with guitars screaming and seemingly free lyrics. The second disk is early recordings of the forementioned album and is truly unique. Imagine a Sonic Youth jam session recorded and released... you get the idea.
This album is among my favourites, if your looking to rock out, get it, NOW!
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on 26 August 2002
This album was the first I ever listened to by Sonic Youth and I must say I was hooked from this point forward. Having listened to so much more Sonic Youth since it is still true that this is a fantastic album, if you've never heard them before buy now.
Admittedly this album was a start to Sonic Youths more commercial career into the grunge movement... but so what its a fantastic album... id personally advise the second purchase to be 'Goo' still my favourite album...
A lot came before Goo and Dirty and shouldn’t be disregarded; there are many early offerings that should be heard, if not just for the understanding of the experimentation and progression of Sonic Youth.
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on 8 January 2001
If you've never listened to sonic youth before this along with 'Goo' is an excellent starting point. The songs are easy to listen to and you still get yr dose of feedback/noize. However let me stress that this is only a starting point. If you like it explore other stuff by em, especially Confusion is sex, EVOL + Daydream Nation.
After listening to their entire catologue I rekon the yoof can fit into 3 categories 1. 1980-1989 early mad shit 2. 1990-1994 Commercial yoof and 3.1994-present thoughtfull poetic stuff.
1 + 3 are the hardest to get into but are the most rewarding, but 2 is a stairway to heaven. OK? In conclusion, I'm gonna kill Thurston and marry Kim Gordon
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on 31 May 2008
This is the first SY record I've heard (about another 10 followed), and it's still my personal favorite. This time there are actual "songs" in here! Sometimes you can even sing along!! Isn't it strange for a SY record? There are a lot of songs, and a lot of GOOD songs (if not all). It's groovy, heavy, and it's got a definite 90's sound.

That's a good place to start, if you haven't heard anything else by Sonic Youth. It's not "that" weird as the rest of their albums. For me, Sonic Youth never did better than that.
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VINE VOICEon 26 August 2007
To be fair, Sonic Youth are a bit of an acquired taste. I don't agree that they produce tuneless music, but their melodies are not as immediate as some of the other bands of their ilk - not as harmonious as say The Pixies or Nirvana. But this is a great album, straight from the New York school that bridges the gap between the Velvet Underground and the grunge scene they briefly became a part of.

'100%' is pure garage rock, swamped in a wall of feedback; 'Sugar Kane' is a churning epic that blusters along nicely; 'Theresa's Sound World' is more reminiscent of Neil Young or REM for some reason - it just has that rural American indie feel to it. The highpoint is perhaps 'Drunken Butterfly' which sounds almost like a lost Velvet Underground classic with a deranged Nico giving vent to some twisted stream of consciousness.

This album is definitely one to check out. But play it loud - it makes more sense that way...
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