Audio Lore

A Positive Music Blog

Monday, July 4, 2011

Out Of The Vaults - Sonic Youth - DAYDREAM NATION

In our new apartment there is one wall with 10 cabinets stacked from floor to ceiling with a sliding library style ladder to reach the high ones. These cabinets were custom built by a previous owner. Inside each cabinet is four shelves, each one the perfect width for a CD. This is what sold me on the apartment.These are the "Vaults" were the music is stored.

Each week I will ask my wife to dive deep into the cabinets and pull out a random CD. The chosen album will then be given to me and I will "muse" on the disc for awhile in this blog no matter how good, bad, or embarrassing the chosen disc is. Where did I buy it, how old was I, first reaction to hearing the album, do I still listen to it today and anywhere else my stream of conscious will take me in regards to the "Out Of The Vaults" weekly pick.

Out Of The Vaults #1- Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation

I grew up in Columbia, Md.The town next door was called Laurel. Every once in awhile my parents would want a change from shopping at the Columbia Mall and make the 15 minute trip to the rival Laurel Mall.
I always welcomed the change because the Laurel Mall's record store kicked the butt of either of the Columbia Mall record stores. The store was Camelot Music or The Wall or Coconuts or some other form of the Transworld family. For some reason this store had an extensive collection of punk/hardcore/indie music. Each time we went there it was agony deciding which CD or Cassette to go home with.

It was one of these trips that I picked up Daydream Nation. Since I was 13 years old I had been a fan of the Dead Milkmen buying almost everything they released. In one of the linear notes of one of their cassettes was an advertisement for other Enigma Records releases. Most of the releases listed did not catch my attention but the name Sonic Youth did. Their name sounded to me like a hardcore or punk band but the picture of the album cover seemed to imply more than just a hardcore band.

A few days later we once again found ourselves past the boundaries of Columbia and drinking Orange Juliuses at the Laurel Mall. I drank mine very fast. The record store was on the other side of the mall and I was itching to get over there. Once I did make it over to the store it was probably the quickest visit I had ever made there. I bee lined to the "Indie/Punk" section of the store and found what I was seeking

Being a teenager and involuntarily feeling the need to rebel against anything and everything, the lead off track "Teenage Riot" hit home before the disc even began. Thurston Moore, the bands leader on vocals. The second song , "Silver Rocket" is where the album really takes off (pun intended). The first few guitar chords are the engines revving before the song kicks in and I literally felt like I was being fired straight up in the sky. A minute or so into the song it slows down, guitars crash chaotic noise erupts giving the feeling of having engine problems high up in space. Then song picks up again and I plummet back to earth at the speed which it launched until you reach the ground with a "thud" at the very end of the song.

In the next song bassist Kim Gordon takes over the lead vocals. Half way through the song she has almost replaced Blondie as my teenage rock crush.
The following song again with Kim on vocals finishes the job. This song , "Cross the Breeze" is then (and still today) one of the my most visual songs. If I close my eyes the driving guitars perfectly create an image of a guy running to escape some bullys in hot pursuit before the song slows down and the guitars get heavy as you picture the guy being caught and beaten . Somehow the guy escapes and the guitars pick up and smooth out as he once again runs for his life. After a another few minutes of Kim singing, the chase, beating and escape takes place once more before the song winds down and the guys has successfully gotten away.

On song 5 "Eric's Trip" another singer takes over. At only 16 the Andy Warhol Art scene references were lost on me but this was a good first exposure to Lee Renaldo's "Spoken" vocal style.He would also be taking over vocals for "Hey Joni" and "Rain King" a little later in the album.

Track 8 "Providence" was a mystery to my 16 year old ears. There really is no music. Just a very slow piano bit with some guy talking to Thurston through what sounds like a distorted tape recorder. Little did I know that the voice on that song was Mike Watt leaving a message on Thurston's answering machine. By the next year Mike's classic band The Minutemen would be in heavy rotation on my stereo and his newer band fIREHOSE was soon to follow. 

For track 9 Sonic Youth's leader Thurston  once again takes over the vocals on "Candle".

" I see a falling snowgirl walking Broadway.
Turns the corner at 14th st and I know there's no way"

 Even at 16 I had a strong love affair with New York City. Whenever a landmark, borough or street of the city was mentioned in a song, it would send chills down my back. At the time I may not have understood connotations of the Coke addicted girl ("Snowgirl") disappearing down 14th  St to score but I was just excited to hear the names of these streets. It was at this point where the names Sonic Youth and New York would become synonymous to me from then on.

On track 11 "Kissability" Kim once again takes over on vocals and sings with such urgency that the song send even more shivers down my back.

Then the trilogy begins: "The Wonder" kicks in with Thurston's almost screaming vocals and roaring guitars before coming down for the great chorus, "I'm just walking around. Your city is a wonder town". In the song I visualize the guy who was being chased down in "Cross the Breeze" now wandering aimlessly round the city running into various people do a variety of  vices occurring around town each time the guitar hits another chord before the song winds down, the guy falling to the ground with his head in his cupped hands.

Now it's 22 years later. Do I still listen to Daydream Nation

Yep. Probably at least once every few weeks too. Every time: Start to Finish. Over the past 22 years I have not grown one bit tired of the album either. Every time I have a long car ride or drive this album, along with it's fellow godlike double albums The Minutemen's Double Nickles on the Dime and Husker Due's Zen Arcade, are the first ones on the stereo to make the long ride fly right by.

In 2007 Daydream Nation was reissued. This time it was released as a double CD with one disc being the album itself and one disc being full of live versions of the Daydream Nation songs. Not only are they live versions but they are from the 1988 tour Sonic Youth did for their then new album. 

Although over the years I have seen Sonic Youth dozens of times and they have always had Daydream Nation songs mixed throughout their set list, this disc is awesome because it allows you to hear these songs performed  live when were are the freshest. 

With this brand new "deluxe" copy of Daydream Nation it now came time to retire one of the CD's that has graced my CD player probably more than any other of my 3000+ Cd's. The  long stained and scuffed up Enigma Records copy of Daydream Nation  I had bought and was blown away almost 20 years before was not going to be needed anymore.

From now on this new copy will  have the job of blowing me away for many more years to come. 

A Formal Introduction

Let's get introductions out of the way. I am a music lover who used to own a record store outside of Baltimore and now lives in New York and works as a dog groomer but still has a strong love affair with music. The last 38 years has left me with a vast knowledge of music. Rock and Roll in particular. It's packed so tightly in there that it will inevitability explode someday. Why not save the mess and leak a little out into this blog each day. Its much cleaner that way.

The title of this blog "Audio Lore" is a play on the Archers Of Loaf song "Audio Whore". Originally that was going to be the title of the blog. Then it accord to me that it was rather negative. There are too many bitter, opinionated curmudgeonly and negative music bloggers out there. This will stay on the positive side. Still opinionated but positive