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‘Gila Monster Jamboree’: Sonic Youth, Meat Puppets and Perry Farrell live in the Mojave Desert, 1985
09:01 am


Sonic Youth
Meat Puppets
Perry Farrell
Redd Kross

Sonic Youth’s West Coast debut took place at the Gila Monster Jamboree, one of three not-totally-legal shows Desolation Center put on in Southern California during the mid-‘80s. If you wanted to attend, you had to buy a ticket, sign a release form, and then make your way to a remote rock in the Mojave Desert. Run by Stuart Swezey of the great AMOK bookstore and press, Desolation Center specialized in setting up wild shows at nontraditional venues, as the ‘90s Sonic Youth biography Confusion Is Next explains:

Previous Desolation Center events had included a boat cruise around San Pedro Harbor featuring the Minutemen, and a Mojave Desert show starring the coruscating German band Einstürzende Neubauten and high-gauge explosives. The Sunday-night bill pitted Sonic Youth against the Meat Puppets, an acid-punk trio from Phoenix, Arizona, signed to SST; Redd Kross, a seventies-inspired punk band led by teenage brothers; and Psi-Com, a [sic] unfortunate group headed by one Perry Farrell—later front man for the infinitely more successful Jane’s Addiction.

A map to a halfway point, Victorville, was provided with each ticket; exact directions to the festival site were given verbally from there. Despite a rash of free LSD and a late-night slot that forced Sonic Youth into the chilly desert air, the show was an unqualified success. Regardless of the prevailing hippie aesthetic (which the members of Sonic Youth found nothing if not anachronistic), Sonic Youth for the first time met their true contemporaries face-to-face: postpunk musicians who regarded rock and punk with equal doses of admiration and derision.


Directions to Gila Monster Jamboree (larger image here)
A more recent Sonic Youth bio, Psychic Confusion, includes eyewitness detail from Sonic Youth drummer Bob Bert and Meat Puppet Curt Kirkwood:

“We went to this weird goth guy’s house the day before, to check out the drum kit I’d be borrowing,” remembers Bob. “The place was full of wild reptiles. He was the singer of Psi-Com; years later, I would realize he was Perry Farrell, of Jane’s Addiction.”

“Gila Monster was a pirate thing,” explains Kirkwood, “the kind of thing Meat Puppets used to play in Arizona, where people would bring kegs. But Stuart did it on a much larger scale.” The generator and crappy PA system were set up at Skull Rock, a knoll deep in the Mojave Desert, eight miles from Joshua Tree.


“It was well lit, because it was full moon,” remembers Kirkwood. “Clear viewing, you can go hiking around, you don’t need a flashlight or nothin’. It’s real nice. You were surrounded by the desert, you kinda had to sneak in. There was slippery stuff going on all around; there were 500 people there, and I think a lot of them were on LSD. There was this bizarre feeling of paranoia. Loads of people were just sitting there going, ‘woooah, woooah’, tripping in the desert, all these punk rockers from LA. It was a pretty SST-heavy affair. Like I said, we’re all friends, Redd Kross, Sonic Youth, all the attendant freaks from SST. It wasn’t real loud, it was pleasant.”


Sonic Youth in Southern California, 1985
I’ve yet to come across any recordings of Redd Kross at Gila Monster Jamboree, and while audio of Psi Com’s bad night (according to Perry Farrell: The Saga of a Hypester, after their set ended, the frontman hid behind a rock and sobbed) certainly exists, all the links I’ve found are dead. However, you can hear all of the Meat Puppets’ performance, comprising most of their not-yet-released masterpiece Up on the Sun, in glorious FLAC or just-fine MP3 at the Meat Puppets Live Repository.   

A ticket to Gila Monster Jamboree
And here’s Sonic Youth, two months before the release of Bad Moon Rising, busting a gut for “Brother James” under the desert stars. We learn from Lee Ranaldo’s liner notes for the VHS of Sonic Youth’s set, released in 1992, that a crew from Flipside Magazine shot the video, and that the Meat Puppets were the last band to go on, playing “on into the night as the desert cold set in, under a big ring around the moon.” If you’ve ever wondered how Sonic Youth pulled off “Death Valley ‘69” without Lydia Lunch, wonder no more.

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
100%: Sonic Youth live at Brixton Academy, 1992
09:43 am


Sonic Youth

Well, THIS rules. The wonderful music blog Aquarium Drunkard has shared a set of MP3s documenting a 1992 Sonic Youth performance at Brixton Academy. That show was legendary and has fortuitously been preserved in really high quality—the bill that night also included Pavement, whose set was recorded for broadcast by the BBC. That Pavement set became the essential bootleg Stray Slack, which DM’s Martin Schneider mentioned in a post just under a year ago. The Beeb kept the recording going for Sonic Youth, and their set was the subject of the bootleg Splitting the Atom, though I’m unclear on whether that boot was indeed the actual BBC tapes, or an audience recording. A shaky-cam video exists of the set as well, but the sound frankly blows.

This was around the time when Sonic Youth had begun encroaching on the mainstream, and were accordingly upping their rock-out levels for the album Dirty, from whence half of this set is drawn. There isn’t much deep catalog here, they were clearly in promotions mode: EVOL is represented by “Tom Violence,” and a spirited take on Sister‘s opener “Schizophrenia” is present, and a couple of tunes hail from Goo—amazingly, there’s not even a single track from their untouchable landmark Daydream Nation. It does, however, include the awesome Lee-song “Genetic,” a live staple at the time that, amazingly, never made it to an album. It lived on the b-side of the “100%” single.

You can download the set here. The songs aren’t indexed, so they may appear in your player in alphabetical order. Aquarium Drunkard has the correct order listed, if you’re a stickler.

Since extant video of the set is basically trash, here’s an appearance from around the same time on Later with Jools Holland, featuring “Drunken Butterfly,” “Sugar Kane,” and “JC.”

Many thanks to Geoff Grant for finding this find.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Mike Kelley fronts Sonic Youth, 1986
10:36 am


Sonic Youth
Mike Kelley

The first time I visited New York’s SoHo district in 1992 I remember seeing a large print of the cover art for Sonic Youth’s Dirty hanging in a loft window. Earlier that year, my art teacher had complained about Sonic Youth’s use of Mike Kelley’s “Ahh. . . Youth!” on the Dirty sleeve, so I probably wouldn’t have been surprised to learn that Kelley had fronted the band during a 1986 performance.

In the mid-‘80s, Kelley worked on a project called Plato’s Cave, Rothko’s Chapel, Lincoln’s Profile. It consisted of a series of paintings, a cave-like installation called The Trajectory of Light in Plato’s Cave, and a poetic text. The project culminated a December 1986 performance of the text by Kelley and an actress named Molly Cleator, backed by Sonic Youth.

Alec Foege’s old Sonic Youth bio Confusion Is Next gives some background on the collaboration:

In December 1986 Kelly invited the band to provide sound effects and incidental music for three performances of his piece Plato’s Cave, Rothko’s Chapel, Lincoln’s Profile at Artists Space in New York. Kelley recited an hour-and-a-half poem he had written and dramatized with the help of actress Molly Cleator while the band droned on.

Plato’s Cave had begun “as a project about the possessive,” Kelley said in one interview, “about how ascribing a quality of possession to something would equalize everything. Like, if I said that this was an exhibition of everything from Lincoln’s house, it links all this random stuff together that has no link except as a possible way to psychoanalyze Lincoln. Everybody asked me why I picked those three people. I made a whole list of possessives that were in common usage and I just picked the three that sounded best together. . . . Then I wove a set of associations between them.”

The band got together with Kelley a couple days before the performance. Kelley went through the script and told the band what he wanted at certain cues—a chunky rock sound, a bang, a spooky noise.

“I wanted to play with rock staging,” Kelley says. “For a lot of the performance, they were behind a curtain, so you didn’t even see them. I was trying to play against this rock-star thing, where there’s a shift of focus to somebody who in normal kind of rock-theatric terms would be the singer.” Kelley’s actions made him the center of focus—the singer, as it were—even though Sonic Youth’s accompaniment accentuated his actions and words with kabuki-like synergy, rather than in the traditional way in which a rock band interacts with a vocalist.


Kelley and Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo discussed the show in a 2009 interview:

Then, to connect your and Mike’s practices—I understand that Sonic Youth provided the soundtrack for Mike’s piece Plato’s Cave, Rothko’s Chapel, Lincoln’s Profile at Artists Space in 1986. How did that collaboration come about?

LR: I think Mike and Kim [Gordon] had been friends in LA. Mike was coming to New York to do this piece at Artist Space and asked us if we would work with him. Steve [Shelley] had just come aboard as our permanent drummer, and we were at the point where we were past just trying things, and had really formed a language that we were all comfortable working with.

MK: That’s right—I knew Kim in LA before she moved to New York. At that time she was not yet a musician; she was a visual artist.  I watched the development of Sonic Youth, and I liked the music and I liked them as people. In that particular performance I wanted to have a live sound element modeled after kabuki theater, where there are musical sections that play off the language in a quite disjointed way.  I also wanted to play with the idea of rock staging. A lot of the audience was there to see Sonic Youth specifically, because at that point they were a known band, so I had some parts where the band was really foregrounded and others where they were completely hidden—behind a curtain, for instance—so you couldn’t see them. And it was great, because they sometimes were doing music not at all typical for Sonic Youth—at one point, for example, I asked them to repeat a riff from “Train Kept A-Rollin’” over and over.

Kim Gordon reminisces about her relationship with Kelley in the video clip below, produced as part of this year’s Mike Kelley retrospective at MOCA. (Kelly committed suicide in 2012.) She says a few words about the performance:

Plato’s Cave, I felt like we were some kind of a Greek chorus to it, and I always thought of Mike as a performance artist more than a visual artist. And at some point, I realized the work was the performance.


You can listen to the 38-minute (not hour-and-a-half, pace Foege) Plato’s Cave performance in its entirety here. A CD is available from Kelley’s label Compound Annex.


Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Beck, Thurston Moore, and Mike D’s ridiculous jam on MTV, 1994

Mass culture machines love the status quo—a salesman, after all, is fattest and happiest when he knows what’ll sell and how to sell it. So when a sudden zeitgeist shift catches them with their pants down, it can be illuminating to watch them try to pull them back up. When the reset button got pushed in the early ‘90s and cult figures whose worldviews revolved around aggressive abnormality suddenly became the new rock royalty, things could get pretty damn funny.

One noteworthy moment was when Sonic Youth‘s Thurston Moore guest hosted MTV’s late night alternaghetto 120 Minutes. In the 1980s, that show featured some legitimately outré artists, but by 1994 watching that show was no longer significantly different from listening to commercial radio. Because of Moore’s untouchable underground bona fides, featuring him injected a fresh dose of off-the-path credibility into that show, and his interview with the then newly-rising Beck was pretty hilarious. Watch it here, it’s worth a few minutes of your life.

But weirder still is this bit of insanity from the same broadcast—Moore, Beck, and the Beastie Boys’ Mike D collaborating on a noise jam. This is what happens when you let the freakshow into the big tent—Dada in mass media. Rigoddamndiculous.

Hat-tip to Mr. Rob Galo for this find.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Strangest Bedfellows: Sonic Youth jam with the Indigo Girls, 1989
09:57 am


Sonic Youth
Night Music

Saxophonist David Sanborn’s late night program, Sunday Night (eventually re-named Night Music), ran from 1988-1990, lasting just 44 episodes. In that short time, Sanborn racked up an impressive and diverse list of guests—some rarely seen on American television, including The Residents, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Miles Davis, The Pixies, Sun Ra, Bongwater and Conway Twitty. Sanborn’s show also had its fair share of unusual, one-off collaborations.

The idea,” Sanborn recalled in a 2013 interview, “was to get musicians from different genres on the show, have them perform something individually — preferably something more obscure or unexpected rather than their latest hit — and then have a moment toward the end where everyone would kind of get together and do something collectively.”

One evening in 1989, Sanborn had on Diamanda Galas, the Indigo Girls, Daniel Lanois, Evan Lurie, and Sonic Youth, who were making their TV debut.

After pulling off a ripping version of “Silver Rocket” early in the program (which included a lengthy mid-song freak-out), Sonic Youth returned for an even more chaotic finale.

Joining the band to cover the Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog” are Sanborn, Lanois (then in the running to produce Sonic Youth’s major label debut, Goo), Don Fleming (Velvet Monkeys, B.A.L.L., etc., and acting as SY’s manager), the Indigo Girls (!), and members of the Night Music Band, including one guy rocking the keytar.
Sonic Youth on Night Music
Kim Gordon does her best Iggy growl, and the entire band—heck, everyone on that stage—is clearly enjoying this moment. Fleming seems to be having the most fun of all, singing back-up vocals with the Indigo Girls and sidling up next to Sanborn during his solo.

Obsessed with wreaking a bit of havoc at the taping, Fleming bought along a toy plastic whistle for the “I Wanna Be Your Dog” jam. During Sanborn’s sax solo, Fleming ran over and began playing in unison. If that wasn’t a strange enough spectacle, Fleming then decided to see if woodwinds could feed back and began smashing the whistle into an amplifier. “I was like, ‘What the fuck?’” Sanborn recalls. “But it was kind of funny. Weird theater.” (Goodbye 20th Century: A Biography of Sonic Youth)

Watching the credits roll—as this unlikely of alliances rages on—only adds to the bedlam and hilarity of the clip, which concludes before the performance actually ends. Somehow, the lack of closure is also fitting; it’s as if the chaos lasts an eternity.

25 years on, TV still rarely gets get as crazy this unless it’s on BRAVO.

Here’s the full episode (“Silver Rocket” starts at 6:50; “I Wanna Be Your Dog” at 42:30):

Posted by Bart Bealmear | Leave a comment
Half Japanese ‘Overjoyed’ mini-doc features members of Sonic Youth, REM, and Velvet Underground

It’d be tempting to dismiss this “mini-documentary” as a mere advertisement for a record release if the subject weren’t the incandescent and seminal lo-fi band Half Japanese.

Since their debut triple-album‘s 1980 release, the band, helmed by Mr. Jad Fair, have advanced an influential primitivist approach to rock music, which has made them one of those bands that see little marketplace success but are utterly beloved by other musicians. So beloved, in fact, that Fair’s bandmates have over the years included, among many others, noted producer and Velvet Monkeys/Gumball honcho Don Fleming, Shimmy-Disc boss and Bongwater multi-instrumentalist Kramer, and Velvet Underground drummer Mo Tucker.

So when it was announced that Half Japanese would be returning with a new album after a thirteen year layoff, it was surely an easy matter to find plenty of glowing testimonials from folks you can trust. (It’s worth noting that Fair has spent that downtime pursuing the visual arts, and if you can catch an exhibit, I recommend it, his work is great fun.) Overjoyed will be released by Joyful Noise on September 2, 2014, and members of REM, Sonic Youth, the Velvet Underground, NRBQ, Teenage Fanclub and many, many others are eager to tell you all about why you should care. If what you see here whets your appetite for more, you really need to see the 1993 documentary The Band That Would Be King. I’ve said this before, many times, but as far as I’m concerned it bears infinite repeats: if that doc doesn’t make you want to start a band, you might have no soul.

Previously on Dangerous Minds
Virtuosity in minutes: Half Japanese’s only guitar lesson you’ll ever need
‘Indie, punk, Motown, Brill Building and Velvets’: meet the street karaoke maestro of Los Angeles

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Sonic Youth and Mike Watt vs Madonna

I wish more of the discussion that takes place about Sonic Youth would bring that band’s collective sense of humor to bear. Yes, they are of course very very important, so talk of their innovative early days is all alternate tunings, noise, and no-wave nihilism. Their later days, it’s all blah blah blah elder statesmen of alternative rock—which, again, yeah, they absolutely were, but they’ve done some funny, funny shit that’s every bit as praiseworthy. Last fall, we showed you their preposterous video “Lou Believers,” but there’s much more to share, so let’s get on with it, shall we?

In 1986, Sonic Youth teamed up with Minutemen/fIREHOSE bass player Mike Watt for a Madonna covers 7”. Having temporarily re-dubbed the band “Ciccone Youth” in a nod to Madonna’s disused surname, they recorded ridiculous travesties of the pop icon’s hits “Burnin’ Up” and “Into The Groove” (renamed “Into the Groovy”), with the latter introduced by way of “Tuff Titty Rap,” which gave Thurston Moore a fine forum in which to be a complete fucking goofball for 40 seconds.




The band was giving vent to a bizarre Madonna obsession in other ways at the time—on their EVOL LP, released the same year, they listed the song “Expressway to Yr Skull” as “Madonna, Sean and Me” on the album cover, and as “The Crucifixion of Sean Penn” on the lyric sheet. Two years later, Ciccone Youth expanded the gag to a full album’s worth of, um, stuff. The Whitey Album included all three tracks from the single, plus a mix of the inane (“Two Cool Rock Chicks Listening to NEU!,” “Silence,” both of which are exactly as stated by the titles), some material that recalled SY’s experimental early days before they fully embraced pop song structures, a bit of spoken word, and a version of “Addicted to Love” (about which, previously on DM, enjoy all the Robert Palmer white-knights in the comments). Check out Dave Markey’s video for the Whitey cut “Macbeth.”

The Whitey Album is singular in the Sonic Youth catalog—the only other SY release I can think of that approaches its pure diverse weirdness is the Master=Dik E.P., released six months earlier, the title track of which just happens to be laden with “Ciccone” references. Six months later and the goofing off would be over. In October of 1988, Sonic Youth would release their 2XLP masterwork Daydream Nation, which left zero room for doubt that the band belonged in the pantheon of art-rock’s greats. Enjoy a bonus video of that album’s “Silver Rocket,” from a STUNNING network TV performance on the far too short-lived Night Music.

Big hat tip to Rust Belt Hammer for inspiring this post.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
BASS IN YOUR FACE: Isolated bass parts of Sonic Youth, Rolling Stones, The Police, Rick James & more

Poor bass players. In the hierarchy of rockbandland, even the mercenary backup singers get more love. Like a drummer, a crummy one can wreck your band, but unlike a drummer, even a superb bass player can fade into the background, seeming for all the world like a mere utility placeholder while the singer, guitarist and drummer all get laid. Before the ‘80s, the bass player was perceived as the would-be guitarist who couldn’t make the cut and got offered a reduction in strings as a consolation prize. Since the ‘80s, bass has been the “easy” instrument a singer hands off to his girlfriend to get her in the band.

It’s all a crock of utter shit. A good bass player is your band’s spine, and is a gift to be cherished.

An excellent online resource for bassists,, has links to an abundance of isolated bass tracks, from celebrated solos to deep cuts to which few casual fans give much thought. There are, of course, song-length showoffs like “YYZ” and “Roundabout,” but there are unassuming gems to be found too. Check out how awesome Tony Butler’s part is in Big Country’s kinda-eponymous debut single. It wanders off into admirable weirdness, but when the time comes to do the job of propelling the song forward, this shit is rocket fuel.


Though Sting has been engaged in a long-running battle with Bono to see who can be the most tedious ass to have released nothing of worth in over 25 years, listening to his playing in the Police serves as an instant reminder of why we even know who he is. The grooves in “Message In A Bottle” are famously inventive and satisfying, but even his work on more straightforward stuff like “Next To You” slays. You can practically hear the dirt on his strings in these.



Funny, as much of a trope as “chick bass player” has become, loads of time spent searching yielded almost no isolated tracks from female bassists. Which is ridiculous. The only one I found was Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon, heard here on “Teenage Riot.” It takes a bit to work up to speed. Taken on its own, it’s a minimal, meditative, and quite lovely drone piece.


Here’s a gem—a live recording of Billy Cox, from Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys, eating “All Along The Watchtower” for breakfast.


This one was a revelation—the Rolling Stones’ Bill Wyman on “Gimme Shelter.” I knew this was a great bass part, but there’s stuff in here I’ve never heard before, and it’s excellent. I should have been paying more attention.


But is there “Super Freak?” Oh yeah, there’s “Super Freak.”


I searched mightily to find isolated bass tracks from Spinal Tap’s gloriously excessive ode to both low-ends, “Big Bottom,” before I realized there would be absolutely no point in doing that. So I leave you with the unadulterated real thing.

Previously on DM: The incomparable James Jamerson: isolated

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Flaming Lips, Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr, & more: 1991 comp CD accurately predicted ‘90s indie rock

Wayne Coyne double neck
In August of 1991, a month before Nevermind was released, and when hair metal was still pretty much the only thing on the radio that bore any resemblance to rock, a tiny indie label called No.6 Records released a compilation of guitar instrumentals called Guitarrorists. It featured names that would be familiar only to resolute undergroundists at the time, but many of them would soon find mainstream attention—these guitarists were members of bands like Afghan Whigs, The Butthole Surfers, The Flaming Lips, Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth, and other, less immortal bands that would nonetheless experience some success within a few years of the comp’s release. And it should go without saying that a lot of it is fantastic.
Guitarrorists CD Cover
Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne’s “I Want to Kill My Brother: The Cymbal Head” is an insane, noisy, and dynamic journey through Coyne’s very strange mind:

Wayne Coyne - “I Want to Kill My Brother: The Cymbal Head”

Big Black/Rapeman/Shellac guitarist and Nirvana recording engineer Steve Albini’s contribution “Nutty About Lemurs” sounds unsurprisingly abrasive and, well, very very Albinilike.

Steve Albini - “Nutty About Lemurs”

A big curveball on the album is “A Little Ethnic Song,” by Dinosaur Jr’s J. Mascis, which sounds nothing like the first thing you thought when you read his name. And it’s really wonderful.

J. Mascis - “A Little Ethnic Song”

Tom Hazelmeyer never became a household name playing guitar for Halo Of Flies, but as big boss man at Amphetamine Reptile Records, he shaped the sound of the ‘90s bludgeon-rock underground as much as anyone. He’s lately turned up on the rock radar again, guesting on guitar with the Brisbane band No Anchor. His Guitarrorists contribution is the skin-flaying “Guitar Wank-Off #13.”

Tom Hazelmeyer - “Guitar Wank-Off #13”

Interesting for how far this selection sticks out from the crowd, and for how lovely it is amid the sea of distortion that is much of the comp, here’s “I Really Can’t Say,” by Kathy Korniloff from Two Nice Girls, a folk-rock band from Austin, notably loud-and-proud out lesbians at a time when that kind of openness was still highly unusual, and far riskier than it is today. They broke up in 1992, but scored some college radio love with a gem of an anthem called “I Spent My Last $10 on Birth Control and Beer.” 

Kathy Korniloff - “I Really Can’t Say”

Lastly, though there are contributions on the CD from all three guitar-wielding Sonic Youths, only one of them seems to have found its way online. Here’s an appropriately stark fan video for Lee Ranaldo’s pensive acoustic solo “Here”:

Lee Ranaldo - “Here”

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Sonic Meth: Sonic Youth meets ‘Breaking Bad’ tee-shirt

Raymond Pettibon’s cover art for Sonic Youth’s Goo album meets Breaking Bad in this droll tee-shirt mashup.

It reads: “I stole Combo’s mom’s RV. It was all whirlwind, heat, and flash. With-in a week we killed Krazy-8 and hit the road.”

Pettibon’s original illustration was based on a 1966 news photo of Maureen Hindley and David Smith, witnesses in the case of the “Moors murders” serial killers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, as they to made their way to the trial.

It’s available at Society 6 for $18.00.

Via Suicide Watch

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Plentiful new Sonic Youth product despite total lack of extant Sonic Youth
02:48 pm


Sonic Youth
Kim Gordon
Thurston Moore
Lee Ranaldo

Despite the massively influential band’s breakup (or hiatus - it’s never been made clear) a year and a half ago, Sonic Youth fans have had no shortage of releases to keep us happy. This autumn in particular is rife with opportunity.

As reported in The Independent and elsewhere, Sonic Youth bassist/singer Kim Gordon and experimental guitarist Bill Nace will release their collaborative album Coming Apart under the band name Body/Head on Tuesday, September 10th. Dates for a short tour are listed on their web site, and “Actress,” a song from the album, has been released to YouTube.

Meanwhile, guitarist Lee Ranaldo has also been a very very busy SY, having released last summer’s lovely, droney album On Jones Beach with Glacial, and he’s now on the cusp of dropping Last Night On Earth, the second release from his band The Dust. (Their first, Between the Times and the Tides, was released in March of 2012.) There’s long been a dismissive “Oh, it’s a Lee song” attitude among a certain camp within SY’s fandom, but if you’re in that cohort, seriously, listen to “Lecce, Leaving” all the way through and tell me it’s not awesome: 

One of Thurston Moore’s multiple projects post-SY, Chelsea Light Moving, has announced a fall tour as well, though their album has been available since spring. Dates listed on Matador Records’ blog are different from those on the band’s home page, so probably best to confirm appearances with the venue nearest you. Along with Moore, the band features Hush Arbors’ main man Keith Wood and multi-instrumentalist Samara Lubelski.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
WTF? Robert Palmer covers Hüsker Dü then Sonic Youth covers Robert Palmer
05:08 pm


Sonic Youth
Hüsker Dü
Robert Palmer

Robert Palmer, two-time Grammy Award-winning love addict caller-outer, can be heard briefly and inexplicably covering Hüsker Dü’s “New Day Rising” in the odd piece of Internet ephemera below. It goes by kind of quickly, and by midway through the clip Palmer’s band has morphed the tune into something else entirely, but it’s worth a listen if only because it’s so weird.

After giving myself a quick refresher course on Palmer’s career, because, frankly, I never really paid much attention to it, I could find no mention of any connection whatsoever between the two seemingly polar opposite musical endeavors.

If the guy who posted this thing is to be believed, it’s from a Palmer performance at San Diego State University in the spring of 1987.  Keep in mind that Hüsker Dü’s “New Day Rising” shows up brutally and gloriously kicking ass as the first track on the absolutely indispensable post-punk album of the same name released in January of 1985, the exact year that Palmer would release Riptide featuring the unfortunate classic, “Addicted to Love.” 

So I got to thinking.  Maybe Palmer’s next record, you know, the one he released after Riptide (whatever that was called)? Maybe that record would show a little change in Robert’s musical trajectory.  I knew it was unlikely, but, hell, if he was listening to Hüsker Dü, perhaps Palmer went a little punk? There was only one way to find out.

I was even willing to overlook the fact that “Simply Irresistible” showed up on the next release, Heavy Nova, in 1988.  Hey, everybody’s gotta sell records, right?  But, alas, any thought I might have entertained about Palmer veering even ever-so-slightly towards a more raw recorded sound quickly vanished. Heavy Nova is more terrible than I could have possibly imagined.  It’s just a bunch of islandy-sounding tunes with awful, smooth-jazz influenced bass lines flatulently slappity-slapping all over the place.  Shudder. 

There is proof, however, that at least one legendary noise band was listening to Robert Palmer at the time, as my wife reminded me while I was writing this piece.  Do yourself a favor and check out Kim Gordon performing a karaoke version of “Addicted to Love,” a track that appears on 1988’s The Whitey Album. The record was the result of a Material Girl-themed side project in which Sonic Youth became Ciccone Youth (referencing Madonna’s maiden name), threw in punk bass pioneer Mike Watt for a tune and then became Sonic Youth again. In the video, Gordon dances with a guitar in front of war footage while moaning off-key, droning snarls giving Palmer’s hit a sinister twist.

Posted by Jason Schafer | Leave a comment
Kim Gordon’s open letter to Karen Carpenter

Karen and Kim
Of course, most Sonic Youth fans are aware that the 1990 song, “Tunic (Song for Karen),” is a not exactly transparent reference to Karen Carpenter, the honey-voiced chanteuse and easy-listening icon. Kim Gordon’s trademark disaffected delivery feels almost sardonic, as she pleas, “I feel like I’m disappearing - getting smaller every day, but I look in the mirror - I’m bigger in every way”  a reference to Carpenter’s tragic 1983 death from complications related to anorexia nervosa.

In fact, Gordon was a giant Carpenters fan, and the song is completely earnest. Explaining the lyrics 20 years later, Gordon professed,

I was trying to put myself into Karen’s body. It was like she had so little control over her life, like a teenager – they have so little control over what’s happening to them that one way they can get it is through what they eat or don’t. Also I think she lost her identity, it got smaller and smaller. And there have been times when I feel I’ve lost mine. When people come and ask me about being famous or whatever and I don’t feel that, it’s not me. But it makes me think about it. The music is definitely about the darker side. But I also wanted to liberate Karen into heaven

Below is an open letter written by Gordon to Karen (date unknown), reprinted from the Sonic Youth biography, Sonic Youth: Sensational Fix:

Dear Karen,

Thru the years of The Carpenters TV specials I saw you change from the Innocent Oreo-cookie-and-milk-eyed girl next door to hollowed eyes and a lank body adrift on a candy-colored stage set. You and Richard, by the end, looked drugged—there’s so little energy. The words come out of yr mouth but yr eyes say other things, “Help me, please, I’m lost in my own passive resistance, something went wrong. I wanted to make myself disappear from their control. My parents, Richard, the writers who call me ‘hippie, fat.’ Since I was, like most girls, brought up to be polite and considerate, I figured no one would notice anything wrong—as long as, outwardly, I continued to do what was expected of me. Maybe they could control all the outward aspects of my life, but my body is all in my control. I can make myself smaller. I can disappear. I can starve myself to death and they won’t know it. My voice will never give me away. They’re not my words. No one will guess my pain. But I will make the words my own because I have to express myself somehow. Pain is not perfect so there is no place in Richard’s life for it. I have to be perfect too. I must be thin so I’m perfect. Was I a teenager once?... I forget. Now I look middle-aged, with a bad perm and country-western clothes.”

I must ask you, Karen, who were your role models? Was it yr mother? What kind of books did you like to read? Did anyone ever ask you that question—what’s it like being a girl in music? What were yr dreams? Did you have any female friends or was it just you and Richard, mom and dad, A&M? Did you ever go running along the sand, feeling the ocean rush up between yr legs? Who is Karen Carpenter, really, besides the sad girl with the extraordinarily beautiful, soulful voice?

your fan – love,


Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Just how beautiful was Karen Carpenter’s voice? Listen to her isolated vocal tracks and find out

Unedited interview with Kim Gordon from 1988

Via Letters of Note

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Sonic Youth’s taco recipe
02:18 pm


Sonic Youth

From a 1996 article in Sassy.


• 1 can chunk white dolphin-safe tuna in springwater
• 1 glob mayo (as you like it)
• 1 green onion (scallion) chopped
• 1/2 lemon squeezed
• 1 or 2 finely chopped jalapenos or small green chilies
• 4 as-fresh-as-you-can-find corn tortillas
• butter
• watercress

Mix tuna, mayo, lemon onion and chilies in a bowl. Sprinkle water on tortillas, then heat one at a time on open low flame (gas stove only) or in a skillet, 15 to 30 seconds on each side. Remove while still soft and smear with butter. Put tuna in the middle, top with sprigs of watercress, fold and chow.

Previously on Dangerous Minds:

Allen Ginsberg’s recipe for Cold Summer Borscht

‘Twin Peaks’ Cherry Pie recipe

Kind of Spicy: Miles Davis’ recipe for ‘South Side Chicago Chili Mack’

George Orwell’s recipe for Christmas pudding

The Freddie Mercury Chicken Dhansak

Via Suicide Watch

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Unedited interview with Kim Gordon from 1988

Here’s an interesting interview with Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon, shot on a roof in downtown Manhattan in 1988. This footage is completely raw and unedited, with cuts and sound interruptions intact. As such, it takes Kim a couple of minutes to get into the swing of things, but she talks about life as a woman in a rock’n’roll band, art, sex, playing bass, her projects Harry Crews (with Lydia Lunch) and Ciccone Youth, and she reads extracts from a book called So You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star. The interview is about 20 minutes long and is split into two parts.


Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
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