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diskant rewind: Asking For Trouble #7

Posted: April 10th, 2009, by Marceline Smith

(Originally posted August 2002)

Asking For Trouble by Marceline Smith

This month’s Trail of Dead record is entitled Murray Street and damn great it is. Oh no, hang on, this is Sonic Youth. hohohoHO, I kill myself sometimes. Aye, so I haven’t bought any Trail of Dead records this month: no albums, laser discs, 8 track cartridges or 7″ biscuits. I haven’t bought a Sonic Youth album in years. Jet-Set Trash and No Star was the last one though I’ve got A Thousand Leaves on tape somewhere. You know why I stopped buying ’em. Yep, All Tomorrows Parties 2000. Sorry to harp on about this but it wasn’t even a studied decision. I didn’t come out of that set vowing never to buy a Sonic Youth record ever again. But maybe it was like aversion therapy. I reach out to pick up a Sonic Youth album and my instincts go ‘NOOOOOO!!’ and I stop short. So, whatever. I wanted this new record, I wanted to go see ’em play London. Money prevented both. Luckily Simon’s whining in his last column got us a copy and so here we are.

Murray Street, as you may have heard, is a return to form. And Sonic Youth really can’t win here. They play a set of avant-garde boundary pushing stuff and we all complain, they play all the hits and everyone digs it but kind of feels pandered to, wondering where the challenge is. Same with the records. We want a return to form, a stop to the Wire-adored side projects and collaborations. And when we get it we think, hey, this is Sonic Youth on auto-pilot. Where’s my challenge? But maybe we should quit complaining and just enjoy ‘cos this is the most fun straight up classic pop album you could want. There’ll be some avant stuff round the corner, take some time off for quick kicks. And, hey, if it’s Sonic Youth by numbers [which is isn’t really, but if it was] then it’s Sonic Youth by numbers. And it’s time to stare out those indie upstarts with a copy of Daydream Nation in one hand and Dirty in the other and say, yeah, Sonic Youth soundalikes? You wish! I’m not going to go through this album in detail – it’s got every cute little guitar trick you’d expect, all those heart-stopping quirks and sparks, the drawling and the sprawling and the tunes, the tunes! If you’ve not bought a Sonic Youth album in a while then go get this and get back in. If you’ve not got any Sonic Youth then here’s a damn good place to start. And next time Sonic Youth visit Scotland can they do a proper show instead of playing third on the bill of the little tent at the hell that is T in the Park? Why why why did they do that?

Cat On Form are fantastic, if you didn’t already know. We’ve also discovered you can make some very interesting anagrams from their name, thanks to fridge magnet letters. ‘foot marc n’ it says just now following ‘mooncart f’, ‘mr taco fon’ and ‘from no cat’. Er, anyway, A Butterfly Kiss The Tar of a Thousand Births is their first proper release and the first mighty slab of superior heavy vinyl on Mr Ady Foley’s Vacuous Pop Label, as it isn’t known as, but should be. I already reviewed half these songs in one of my previous columns but, bargain bargain, you get two more on here. They remind me a lot of late era Huggy Bear which is enough to guarantee a very fond opinion from me. It’s the wide-eyed aggression with an undercurrent of fear and stubborn defiance. They scream and shout and whisper truths. Protest songs for back alleys and parks after dark. It also has, we presume, the cat kids’ fingerprints on the sleeve so I’m off to shop them to the Too Many Tunes Police.

Ooh, The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster. They’re one of them trendy NME bands aren’t they? Well, yes and no. True, I did hear someone once say they weren’t that great “but at least they had good hair” which pretty much sums up most of the chancers in the NME these days [I’m guessing here since I’ve managed to wean myself off the damn thing] but I’ve also been recommended them by people with excellent music taste so let’s see who’s right. Right meaning who I agree with, obviously. Morning Has Broken [Radiate] is a howling mess of a record. The guitars sound like sawing a tree trunk with a sharp knife and the vocals have the frenzied hollering of a man possessed. These are people brought up on the Jesus and Mary Chain, hey hey yeah yeah garage rock and some kind of dirty lowdown metal and it sounds good to me.

Marceline Smith

Marceline is the fierce, terrifying force behind diskant.net, laughing with disdain as she fires sharpened blades of sarcasm in all directions. Based in Scotland, her lexicon consists of words such as 'jings', 'aboot' and 'aye': our trained voice analysts are yet to decipher some of the relentless stream of genius uttered on a twenty-four hour basis. Marceline's hobbies include working too much and going out in bad weather.


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