Friday, 3 August 2007



It cannot be denied that this was probably the first Sonic Youth song that my generation ever heard. In the midst of the Nirvana hype while I was still at school occasionally the skate themed video would appear on MTV and basically anyone in my circle that saw it would immediately lose their shit. One kid called Chris Wright even based his bowl hairstyle on Steve Shelley’s version of the model. Chris by the way was last seen heading to Amsterdam in chase of a lady. This after a spell of playing bass in an Ocean Colour Scene type band but I’ll digress.

In subsequent years anyone worth their indie stripes has listened to every Sonic Youth album past and present as they come and go but I genuinely the period that was Dirty remains there best as their noisiest, best recorded, most ferocious and generally the height of the incendiary intensity displaying them at their most driven.

“100%” opens with noise oppression from the right. Then from the left direction more stinging sound strikes and suddenly all becomes blurred until it gets harnessed and a huge hulking riff cuts through proceedings giving the song an almost pop direction while not sacrificing any of the noise or might of the tools at hand. This is not playing, this is sculpting.

Effortlessly cool Thurston sings in an almost dribbled murmur, mumbling sweet nothings that are really addressing a nasty murder in the community. This is the way people deal in the grunge era it would seem.

There is no fucking about with this record, it goes for the jugular in ways the majority of alternative and indie musicians can only dream of. It is noise rock but delivered at the hands of experts who know what they are doing, effortlessly cool in a laidback motion suggesting a truly higher intellect.

Elsewhere on the disc follows the schizophrenic “Crème Brulee” which also appears on the transcending Dirty and opens sounding like another Sonic Youth composition that could have seen them rolling with the Manson family before melting into a drunk sounding ode caked in suffocation. Next “Genetic” strikes in the kind of exuberant fashion that most Lee Renaldo led compositions express; he is the king of the upbeat chord change when it comes to this band.

The fantastically christened “Hendrix Necro” closes out the CD single suggesting an attempt at combining the classic rock sound of Jimi with the hardcore sounds of the vibrant violent early eighties. It’s a Kim song, scathing and Riot Grrrl sounding that could have been equally at home on a Free Kitten record. Halfway through the track falls apart, turning into a swirling mess and sonic explosion. No fear.

With a video that features Jason Lee in skating mode years before Kevin Smith discovered his acting skills, Kim looking amazing in a Rolling Stones shirt and a sad back story regarding former friend Joe Cole, “100%” is a very loaded song working on many levels with many messages.

This is what happens with lightning strikes.

Thesaurus moment: dent.

Sonic Youth

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