Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Random Records: Sonic Youth's Evol

Craig randomly grabs a record from his shelf and shares his deepest thoughts and feelings.

Sonic Youth: Evol (1986)

Where I bought it: Cheapo Records, St. Paul

Have I had second thoughts?: My friend Stephen (a different one than Ding Gua Gua Stephen) once said that Sonic Youth started to suck when Thurston Moore started rhyming. As amusing as that observation might be, I get tired of people slamming Sonic Youth. Like the Flaming Lips, they've become pretty unlikely music heroes given their roots in the 80s post-punk/hardcore scene. I don't like everything they've put out, but I would never disrespect their integrity. But none of that actually answers the question at hand. No, I've never had second thoughts. This album was from back in their untouchable golden days of the mid-80s. It's awesome.

Evol is one step along Sonic Youth's evolution through SST/Blast First until their indie masterpiece Daydream Nation that would land them a Geffen contract. On Evol, they perfected the scare-core of their previous album Bad Moon Rising ("Tom Violence", "Expressway to Your Skull"), while also beginning to explore a little pop/rock ("Bubblegum", "Star Power"). Evol was the second Sonic Youth I heard, and I would rank it as my second favorite after Daydream Nation.

Oddly, I never actually bought it until many years later after I had moved to Minnesota. I always wanted a vinyl copy, and though I don't think it's THAT rare of a record, I had a hard time finding the copy I wanted. So now it stands as the prime example of why I used to make my weekly outing to Cheapo Records and dig through the new arrivals. $3.99 for a pristine copy! All those years since I first heard it (somewhere around 1989), I listened to my cassette dub from Malcolm's original. Cassettes are a particularly good format for the go-to-sleep listen, being that you don't have to turn over the record. So, sometimes when feeling moody in my much younger days, I would put it on to sing me to sleep at night. It's amazing I not only graduated college, but got a Ph.D. and now work for a major corporation, because I used to listen to the most un-motviating goth shit when going to sleep in high school and college. Also on that pile was the debut Cranes album Wings of Joy and Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures. I must have a blocked Corpus Calossum to have avoided those hypnotic suggestions from polluting my left brain.


  • unlike Craig, i didn't have the benefit of Malcolm's influence in high school. i honestly doubt i would have had the capacity to appreciate EVOL back then anyways. sonic death [early live youth] was the first cd i purchased way back in 87 or 88, and was also the first cd i sold, not long after.

    EVOL therefore sits on my go-to-sleep pile from college, along with isn't anything, hit to death in the future head, + many others. while i'd personally find it fun to disrespect the sy's integrity [washing machine, 100% !??&*^%*], we'll save that for another time.

    i will say that EVOL is more the masterpiece in my mind, though. this is probably more than anyone wants to know, but a friend of mine committed suicide about a month after i found EVOL used on cassette. i had [and still have] this habit of playing the same cassette/cd/whatever continuously in my car for weeks on end. start the car, tape starts playing, and doesn't stop till the car does. drove my friends nuts. anyways, my friend's passing had quite an impact on me - i could say i genuinely went off the deep end for a while there. and for a while there, all i did was listen to EVOL over and over in my car. and in my dorm room. for months. on top of that, i was really only listening to three songs: tom violence, shadow of a doubt, and secret girls. the first two are right next to one another on the record, but secret girls is on the second side, so i'd have to ffwd. over and over, as long as i was paying enough attention. dunno quite what it did for me at the time, but i know i needed to hear hate, vitriol, and terror. absolute confusion and a hint of danger - as much as i needed to hear the bad brains at age 13, weather i knew it or not. now that i'm a fully medicated adult, i wonder how many more of those there will be.

    daydream nation never really did it for me that way. from a critical perspective, its certainly a more complete, fully realized work than EVOL, which is honestly a bit spotty. [bubblegum? please...] though there's barely a throwaway track on dn, its peaks somehow aren't nearly as great as EVOL's best.

    By Blogger tenfoot, at 9:09 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home