Beyond the Margins: Sonic Youth Oddities

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Beyond the Margins: Sonic Youth Oddities

Sonic Youth covered a lot of ground in their career. As high-art CalArts castaways turned Downtown NYC No Wave noise pushers, they largely abandoned traditional song structure on their first releases for bursts of detuned guitar shrapnel. As the ‘80s turned into the ‘90s, and mainstream music began to get heavier and stranger, they became the curators of rock’s brief but wondrous plunge into experimentalism, and though this brief foray into the mainstream changed rock, it also changed them, and, for a brief second, they almost became the new normal. This is wild playlist, however, doesn’t even approach “normal,” and demonstrates that the experimental instinct never receded, but was channeled to the various side projects, covers and one offs that represent some of the most self-consciously weird music of the past few decades. They provide a dark, gnarly cover of Madonna’s “In the Groove” under the moniker Ciconne Youth, while YOKOKIMTHURSTON pairs Yoko Ono with the alternatives formerly lovestruck duo for atonal vocal shimmering. And who knew that Nancy Sinatra stab at a comeback included covering a Thurston Moore song? This isn’t so much a playlist you listen to -- much of it, in fact, is barely listenable -- but something marvel at, which makes it a necessity for Sonic Youth obsessives. -- Sam Chennault

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