Tag Archives: sonic youth

SONIC YOUTH: Helen Lundeberg (7″, SY-0001)

Sonic Youth - Helen Lundeberg

This is the first 7″ record that my random number generator – the website I use to decide which record from my collection to write about – has pointed me towards. That’s a little intentional, as until very recent times my 7″ records were in no order whatsoever, and it would’ve been tricky to track down any specific one. However! I spent a couple of weekend days a little while ago organising them into alphabetical order and, naturally, life now feels much more intentional and relaxed.

This seems to be only the second Sonic Youth record I’ve written about here, which is somewhat surprising, as their records occupy quite a hefty chunk of my collection overall. Quite an odd record, this one: I think it was released by the band, but I can’t remember. It doesn’t state a label, or indeed a release date, on either its sleeve, its labels, or the insert included within the sleeve. Discogs tells me it was released in May 2006. I will have almost definitely bought it as soon as it was released, such was my approach to any new Sonic Youth release; I think it was ordered online and delivered mail order.

Not a great deal to say about the sleeve design; the front and back are almost identical, except for in the positioning of the letters. One side has ‘SONI / C YO / UTH’, the other has ‘SONI / CYOU / TH’. Dull stuff. A stencil font (the font is actually called Stencil, as well as being ‘a stencil font’), black on white, no nonsense. It’s a relatively commonplace design, although not entirely unpleasant.

The insert seems to have been cut to its square shape with a rusty butter knife – it’s all rough-edged and crappy-feeling. It shows nothing more than the lyrics for the two songs on the record (‘Helen Lundeberg’ and ‘Eyeliner’), presented in plain old Verdana, black on white, no nonsense.

A weird record, a weird release. So little effort seems to have been put into the physical presentation of these two songs. The songs are fine – latter-period Sonic Youth; i.e. melodic and nothing like as freaked, spaced, or zoned out as in their earlier days.

SONIC YOUTH: Evol (LP, Blast First BFFP4, 1986)

Sonic Youth - Evol

Aha, the first Sonic Youth record that I’ve written about on here. I’m sure that there will be many more.

Sonic Youth are the number one band for me – a mid-level obsession that has been in my life since the very early 1990s. A friend of the younger of my two sisters made me a couple of compilation tapes back in that time, after we’d spent time working together over a summer, packing earrings into ever-larger boxes. On one of these tapes, amongst the much-expected James/Inspiral Carpets/Stone Roses-type fare that was taking over the world at the time, was a strange track called ‘Mary Christ’ by a band I’d read the name of before, but never heard. My mind was blown. This sounded like nothing I’d ever heard before; so energetic, weird and yet listenable. Within a matter of days I was scouring every record shop in the Midlands, picking up every piece of vinyl I could find with the band’s name on it.

This continues still: Sonic Youth could release records of themselves chanting “This record is a rip-off: we are laughing at you” through a wall of laughter, and I’d be in line to buy them. (Some would say that some of the more recent SYR series of releases are not far from this, ho ho). I still obsess about them and I think I always will. On reflection, the 1980s is for me their peak period, and Evol comes a close second to Sister as my favourite album of theirs from this time. (Although, naturally, Daydream Nation is a close third, and Confusion Is Sex a close fourth, and so on…) Evol sums up their weird fascination with Hollywood star fetishisation (see ‘Starpower’, ‘Marilyn Moore’, ‘Madonna, Sean and Me’ – as ‘Expressway To Yr Skull’ is known on the rear sleeve here). This would then blossom into mainstream acceptance with the release of Goo a few years later.

Sonic Youth are the band that have for me gone beyond being something I merely like, and they have now been a constant companion for nigh-on twenty years. That might sound creepy and stalkerish but I’ll tell you this – I’m certainly not on my own feeling this way.