NYC Ghosts & Flowers
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Diverse 2000 album, produced by and featuring Jim O'Rourke.
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
Top Customer Reviews
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.
The first NYC G&F track, Free City Rhymes, is probably one of the best SY tracks EVER, reminscent of their early days. However, Sonic Youth have matured since then, and the track hits with a more focused structure, a well-constructed aural metaphor for the temporal progressions in daily urban life -- haunting, unavoidable, bothersome and listenable at the same time, just like morning traffic in the city.
Among the other tracks are standouts like the funny and biting Nevermind (What Was it Anyway?) and the title track,which clings to a devastatingly ambiguous delivery that asks frustrating, almost preconscious questions.
In short, Sonic Youth is still putting it together somewhere behind your eyeballs like they always have, and their skill and focus are improving with age. I group Washing Maching, A Thousand Leaves and NYC Ghosts & Flowers together as a kind of late trilogy not unlike Evol, Sister and Daydream Nation. And in my opinion, the second trilogy may be just as good as the first.
Who is this album NOT for? Probably the Grungers who bought Goo and Dirty and never really got the hang of other Sonic Youth records. Don't get me wrong -- Goo and Dirty are great discs in their own right -- but you won't find that kind of radio-ready accessibility in NYC G&F.
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that's right, "the mascara snake", beautiful.
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...Read more