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NYC Ghosts & Flowers

4 out of 5 stars 57 customer reviews

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58th Annual GRAMMY Awards
Discover this year's nominees on CD and Vinyl, including Album of the Year, Artist of the Year, Best New Artist of the Year, and more. Learn more

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 16 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Universal Music Canada
  • ASIN: B00004T3XL
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Audio Cassette  |  LP Record
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 57 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #48,968 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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1. Free City Rhymes
2. Renegade Princess
3. Nevermind (What Was It Anyway?)
4. Small Flowers Crack Concrete
5. Side2side
6. StreamXsonik Subway
7. NYC Ghosts & Flowers
8. Lightnin'

Product Description


It's either a blessing or a shame that the risks Sonic Youth take don't really matter any more. No longer the groundbreakers or the train-spotters they've played in the past, they are now a band like any other. They play for the sheer joy of sound, the kinetics of experience. There's no other reason left to do it--which must be incredibly liberating, and more than a little sad. NYC Ghosts & Flowers is marked by the same yearning calm that defined its predecessor, A Thousand Leaves. The hooks are conspicuous in their absence, as if to say the battle may be over, and we're better off having lost. The notable exception to this brilliant game of implication is "Nevermind (What Was It Anyway?)", an obvious indictment of the decade-defining "alt-rock" phenomenon SY partially inspired. It's only fitting that this track sounds lost amid an album far too wrapped in its own interior explorations to bother stating the obvious. Sure, you could say that NYC Ghosts & Flowers is the group's best record since Daydream Nation--what's a new Sonic Youth album without such an assessment?--but to do so would deprive them of their greatest achievement. No longer fashionable or influential, Sonic Youth persist in the strength of their own passions. They matter to themselves. --Matt Hanks

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
What a strange and beautiful album! I am not an SY fan, I actually bought this on a whim because I dug the cover art by William S. Burroughs (who died shortly before this album came out). SY has always been an elusive band that has received critical acclaim from critics (Rolling Stone) and musicians (Nirvana, Pavement) alike, but has avoided excessive radio play (at least in SoCal) and MTV. How surprised I was to find they'd been around 20 years when this album was released!
The criticisms of this album is that it is too artsy and pretentious. Well, this is NOT a pop album and look elsewhere if you're expecting something like Blink or Britney (or even Foo Fighters) I enjoyed the music here because it strives to be different from Top 40 or even so-called alternative radio.
As the title reveals, this album pays homage to the musical and artistic legends that have originated in or been influenced by NYC and its culture. In addition to Burroughs, there are lyrical and stylistic references to Jack Kerouac, Lenny Bruce, D.A. Levy, Sun Ra, the NY Art Quartet, the Velvet Underground, and possibly others.
There has also been discussion about 9/11 references. The music was recorded over a year before that tragic event but it is frightening how the noises produced on the apocalyptic title track sound like a jet plane moving closer and closer to the listener...
In fact, the reviews for Murray St. say one of the plane engines crashed into the group's recording studio that fateful day.
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Format: Audio CD
Well, I read the various other reviews of this album and felt I had to add to the list. I've followed SY since Bad Moon Rising, they have provided the soundtrack for much of my adult life... and I couldn't disagree more with the general sense of dislike expressed regarding this album. Maybe I have grown up along with the band, maybe it's my continued Downtown NYC leanings, but this is the one I have always been waiting for. Tension between rock song form and noise? I find that sort of obvious at this point. There are many different forms that might be employed to make "songs." Here we find the ol' SY gang letting loose like they haven't since Confusion is Sex. Not as noisy perhaps, but just as dense, just as unexpected and, in the end, creating a soundscape that I find both astounding and magnificent. "NYC Ghosts and Flowers"? How could this not become an emblematic album post 9-11? (Yeah, I know it came out before... so?) A sonic landscape of streets. layered histories, strivings and failings, an elegy, a tribute, a document.
"NYC" is and has been on constant rotation in my musical realm since its release. L's list says "boring"? Sorry, man. You need to learn some more patience. I never fully embraced the 90's grunge rock SY stuff. Just not what i come to them for. I want density... chiming, stunning discord, small aural openings that expand around me and envelope me- (and the eschewing of verse/chorus structure and spoken additions make perfect sense to me.)
SY has always dodged in and out of rock-dom and with the addition of the SYR recordings and their various more "experimental "projects they have clearly signalled that their allegiance lies more firmly on the avant side. Best album since "Daydream Nation"? Nah.... best album.
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Format: Audio CD
This album, like all of the Youth's recent output, brings up a question: has the rest of the rockworld, or at least sections of it, caught up with what they've been doing over the last 20 years, or was/is Sonic Youth some sort of genetic cul-de-sac which no amount of conscious effort could possibly replicate? To which the obvious answer is "I dunno". They were some of, if not the first, to combine Cage/Branca/No Wave feedback assault aesthetics w/Beach Boys mutant harmony bubblegum, and at the time that was a breath of new air that most people's lungs were completely unequipped to handle. Nowadays, of course, noise has become the condiment of choice for aggro whiteboys who think they have a bone to pick w/society. Thing is tho, Sonic Youth could still wipe the floor w/these kids w/just one quick blurt of their patented free jazz/rockroll melange.
Take "Renegade Princess", for example. The track starts off with the immediately recognizable atonal shred these fellas (and a gal!) perfected long ago before Steve Shelley chimes in with a rusty drum thud and drags the song firmly into the groove that has always lurked under all of El Youth's output. "Small Flowers Crack Concrete" is a tone poem that sounds like Kerouac, assuming Kerouac had been a junkie instead of a drunk, fronting an Iannis Xenakis cover band. Best of all, "Never Mind (What Was It Anyway?)" goes so far as to apologize for all the various alterna-types who, back in the day, claimed the Youth as spiritual forefathers, simultaneously combining more riff w/more skrrng than any of those poseurs did over the course of four or five entire albums.
Anyway, the point is, buy this. Even if Sonic Youth's sound has been co-opted corrupted and bastardized by various wannabe arty types to the point of sometime near indistinguishability, they still know how to do it right. Besides which, having been the victims of commercial neglect since 1981, they most definitely deserve yer money.
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Format: Audio CD
Probably their most innovative and eclectic release yet, NYC Ghosts & Flowers is a triumph in stream of conciousness poetry and musical form, as well as tribute to the gods of beat--mainly William S. Burroughs (one of William's old paintings is the cover art), but I guess it could be more Ginsberg, but that influence has been appareant for a while now, espescially on the phenomenal A THousand Leaves.
Gordon's contributions include "Side 2 Side" and "Nevermind (What Was It Anyway?)", both of which reflect simple cut-up one word fragments that seem unrelated to create wonderful atmospheres, she also contributes "Lightnin'" which repeats the words 'lightning strikes me' over and over on top of tweaked horns. I must say this album includes alot of electronic sounds and effects, adding an extra pinch of ascension to every single song. The best songs are Renaldo's definitely Burroughsesque "Small Flowers Crack Concrete" ("narcotic cops sweep through poet dens", blue lights looking for the heart of D.A. Levy and "the brain he left behind") and the title track (by far the best song on this wonderful masterpeice, Renaldo has come far as a poet). Renaldo might also the carnival tinged "StreamXSonicSubway", the lyrics seem up his alley, but sometimes it's hard to tell him from Thurston. Moore does do a few songs however, the Teen age Riot to the new degree "Renegade Princess" and the melodic beginner "Free City Rhymes". Everything on here is done to perfection, zones you into the dark recesses of the imagination just like Naked Lunch or THe Wild Boys or any book by WSB can. Cooooooooooool, man.
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