Art Indie Rock Punk Visual

Controversial Album Art: Sonic Youth – Goo

Sonic Youth’s major-label debut Goo is a solid, respected Indie Rock album. Sonically, it continues the bands evolution from No Wave inspired noiseniks to the tunefully dissonant elder statesmen (& woman) of Alternative Rock.

The cover art, by artist Raymond Pettibon (famous for record art for underground artists like Black Flag & Minutemen), depicted a black & white, ink line drawing of “two sunglasses wearing British mods” (wikipedia). A caption read : “I stole my sister’s boyfriend. It was all whirlwind heat, and flash. Within a week we killed my parents and hit the road.” This image has become embedded in the cultural consciousness via T-shirts, posters etc. There are hosts of tributes to it featuring characters from other media.

What I wasn’t aware of until very recently though (I’m probably the last to know) was who the image depicted. The drawing was modelled on a newspaper image of two witnesses in the Moors Murders trials. The witnesses pictured were actually Moors Murderer Myra Hindleys Sister & Brother -in-Law, David & Maureen smith, whose statements to the police eventually led to the arrest & incarceration of Hindley & her fellow murder Ian Brady. It’s an interesting choice of subject. I find it ties into similar themes to artwork like Jamie Reid’s Sex Pistols sleeves or the détournement of Gang Of Four’s Entertainment! It’s designed to either shock the viewer or to instil feelings of vague discomfort.

Jamie Reed’s God Save The Queen artwork & Gang Of Four’s Entertainment!:

Other examples of Raymond Pettibon’s sleeves:

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Indie Rock Song of the Day

Song of the Day (The Chain) – Sonic Youth – Teen Age Riot

Okay, here we are at the beginning of a whole new series of Song of the Day. This time while trying to decide on a theme, I remembered a regular feature I liked on one of my favourite radio shows, Radcliffe & Maconie on 6Music. The feature is called The Chain & every hour of each show, listeners call in and suggest a song which is thematically linked in some way to the previous track. The link can be very obvious or very obscure, it doesn’t matter.

I have decided to adopt this idea for the Song of the Day series (& to name this series after it), so welcome to Day 1 of Song of the Day (The Chain).

To start with I have decided to go with one of my all time favourite songs, Teen Age Riot by Sonic Youth. Teen Age Riot, from Sonic Youth’s seminal Daydream Nation album, imagines an alternative reality where J Mascis (frontman of Alt Rock legends, Dinosaur Jr.) is the President of the USA.

You’re it
No, you’re it
Yeah, you’re really it
You’re it
No, I mean it, you’re it
Say it, don’t spray it
Spirit desire, face me
Spirit desire, don’t displace me
Spirit desire, we will fall
Miss me, don’t dismiss me
Spirit desire
Spirit desire, spirit desire
Spirit desire, we will fall
Spirit desire, we will fall
Spirit desire, spirit desire
Spirit desire, we will fall
Spirit desire, we will fall

Everybody’s talking ’bout the stormy weather
And what’s a man to do but work out whether it’s true
Looking for a man with a focus and a temper
Who can open up a map and see between one and two

Time to get it before you let it get to you
Here he comes now
Stick to your guns and let him through

Everybody’s coming from the winter vacation
Taking in the sun in a exaltation to you
You come running in on platform shoes
With Marshall stacks to at least just give us a clue
Ah, here it comes, I know it’s someone I knew

Teenage riot in a public station
Gonna fight and tear it up in a hypernation for you

Now I see it
I think I’ll leave it out of the way
Now I come near you
And it’s not clear why you fade away

Looking for a ride to your secret location
Where the kids are setting up a free-speed nation for you
Got a foghorn and a drum and a hammer that’s rocking
And a cord and a pedal and a lock, that’ll do me for now

It better work out
I hope it works out my way
‘Cause it’s getting kind of quiet in my city head
Takes a teen age riot to get me out of bed right now

You better look it, we’re gonna shake it up to him
He acts the hero, we paint a zero on his hand

We know it’s down
We know it’s bound too loose
Everybody’s sound is around it
Everybody wants to be proud to choose
So who’s to take the blame for the stormy weather
You’re never gonna stop all the teenage leather and booze

It’s time to go round
A one man showdown, teach us how to fail
We’re off the streets now, and back on the road on the riot trail

Keep up to date. Check out the Song of the Day (The Chain) Spotify playlist.


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John Peel Sessions

A blogger on Blogspot by the name of Dave Strickson (Formally Known As The Bollocks) has just posted this huge list of John Peel Sessions with links to YouTube clips for them all. Compiling this must have taken a long time and a lot of work and for that I am thankful. I have noted a few sessions are missing, namely Autechre & Boards of Canada, though they were released commercially by the artists themselves.

So whether you’re looking for that 1919 session from 1983 or You’ve Got Foetus On Your Breath from the 1982, this blog has you covered.

I’ve yet to go through the majority of this (I don’t even know where to start) but here’s a couple of my previous favourites, in the interest of sharing some music with this post.

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Facebook Challenges Music

10 days/10 albums Facebook challenge

Over on Facebook, a lot of people have been doing a thing where every day for 10 days you post the cover of an album which ‘greatly influenced’ your taste in music. On the Facebook posts, you’re only supposed to post the cover with no explanations or reviews etc. I decided to compile my ten into this blogpost with a little explanation/review of each one.

Day 1: Radiohead – Ok Computer

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Widely cited as one of the greatest albums of the 1990’s, if not all time, OK Computer catapulted Radiohead into The Big Leagues and topped most year-end lists in 1997. Since then it has also topped countless ‘greatest albums’ lists. Before OK Computer was released, I was happily listening to Oasis and Ocean Colour Scene. These were my favourite bands. When I first heard Paranoid Android, lead single from OK Computer, I was blown away. Music could be weird. Music could be creative. Music didn’t have to be boring four-chord, verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus dadrock like Oasis. Guitars, while key to the sound, didn’t have to be the only instrument. Effects were used creatively and experimentally, like the Roland Space Echo on Subterranean Homesick Alien. Live drumming was cut up and rearranged in the studio – inspired by DJ Shadow’s seminal Endtroducing – like on opening space dub rocker Airbag. This opened up worlds of possibility for me. I began seeking out weird and experimental music as a habit. A habit which I retain to this day. And I’ve not really listened to Oasis since.

Day 2: Pavement – Brighten the Corners

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Pavement’s 1997 album Brighten the Corners is not generally considered to be one of their best records. But to me it was the first time I heard what would go on to be one of my favourite bands. I heard Shady Lane a lot on Steve Lamacq’s Evening Session on Radio 1 and John Peel. What attracted me to Pavement was the laid back, stoned vibes of the songs, the gentle effortlessness of the playing (which isn’t nearly as effortless as it first sounds) and the unusual, quirky lyrics – which 14-year-old me didn’t really understand but loved anyway. It’s definitely not my favourite Pavement album, but as the first I heard, it will always hold a special place in my musical tastes.

Day 3: Autechre – Tri Repetae

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The first electronic music album in my list and the first one that truly excited me about the possibilities of electronic music and made me want to produce it myself. The cold, sparse arrangements and the intricate glitches were what initially drew me in, but the warm bass and the solid drum programming and production are what made me stay. Closing track Rsdio is one of my favourite tracks of all time. A 9-minute slow build-up of various repetitive elements which form together into a glorious glitchy groove embedded in an echoey, desolate soundscape. My first copy of Tri Repetae was actually a CD-R which a friend burned for me. After the album ended, he’d added the generative glitchy mess that is Gantz Graf. This noisy electronic classic led me towards weirder, glitchier and more abrasive electronic music.

Day 4: Grandaddy – The Sophtware Slump

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I could, and indeed will, write a lot more about this album than I have space for here. It’s a legitimate masterpiece, in my opinion. Jason Lytle is a ridiculously talented songwriter and the way he blends traditional rock instruments with bleeping atmospheric synths and drum machines is just so unique. And then to use this technique to tell a story about civilisation collapsing due to the Y2K millennium bug (a hot topic at the time) with a sad and beautiful subplot about an artificially intelligent humanoid robot named Jed who writes depressing poetry then drinks himself to death. I cannot recommend this album enough.

Day 5: Belle and Sebastian – The Boy with the Arab Strap

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This is another one that caught me by surprise. I’d read reviews of their music in NME and Melody Maker but thought that they didn’t sound like something I’d enjoy. I saw this album on a listening post (remember them?) in my local Virgin Megastore (remember them?) and gave it a go. The opening of the first track It Could have been a Brilliant Career absolutely hooked me. The melancholic vocal with the lush melody and the cleverly funny lyrics was so good: “He had a stroke at the age of 24, it could have been a brilliant career”. And the songs just kept getting better. This was the birth of my love for what is often described as twee pop, or just twee.

Day 6: At The Drive-In – Relationship of Command

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A definite change of pace here. After the melodic pop sensibilities of Grandaddy and Belle and Sebastian, I had to pick something a bit noisier. Aggro. Relationship of Command is a Post-Hardcore touchstone. The only album more important in the genre is probably Fugazi’s politically and ethically charged Repeater and that is high praise indeed. Relationship of Command is a savage burst of metallic punk noise and swooning melancholic melodies. It even features a cheeky cameo from the godfather of punk himself, Iggy Pop, on Rolodex Propaganda. Lead single One Armed Scissor blew everyone away and for me at least, killed off Nu Metal. Dead.

Day 7: Boards of Canada – Music has the Right to Children

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Music has the Right to Children is a particularly special album. It’s universally recognised as a classic album in pretty much every single music-based Facebook group I’m a member of. It’s loved by hipsters, indie kids, hip hop fans, shoegazers, IDM fans and many more. Your grandparents have probably heard Board of Canada. As well as it’s lush arrangements and top-drawer production, it also introduced me to another concept which I have developed a slight obsession with, Hauntology. I will write a primer to hauntology at some point in the near future, so if you’re not familiar with what it is, don’t worry. Boards of Canada introduced, alongside Mogwai, introduced me to the idea of soundscapes. A common feature in many of my favourite bands.

Day 8: Beastie Boys – Hello Nasty

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My introduction to the Beastie Boys was probably hearing Sabotage and/or Fight for your Right to Party on commercial radio or MTV. I liked them but I didn’t know any of their other music. This was also in the mid ‘90’s before you could investigate a band on Spotify or YouTube if you liked them and my primary source of income was a paper round. When you get paid £12 a week, you need to be damn sure you like the album you’re buying before you buy it. By the time the video for Hello Nasty’s lead single Intergalactic was released, I was already reading NME & Melody Maker regularly as well as watching MTV2 (MTV’s “alternative” offshoot channel) and listening to Radio One’s Evening Session (Steve Lamacq), John Peel’s show and Mary Anne Hobbes’ Breezeblock show. All of these outlets played Intergalactic constantly and I was even able to afford to buy the occasional single. I remember purchasing it on cassette and the B-Side was the wonderful Hail Sagan. As an album I believe it’s the Beastie Boys best kept secret. It’s probably my favourite of their albums (except for maybe Ill Communication) and contains some of their strongest singles. Intergalactic (obviously), Remote Control, Body Movin’, and the sublime Three MC’s And One DJ. A true late ‘90’s heavyweight.

Day 9: Beck – Odelay

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If you boiled the entire ‘90’s in a still then the end result, the distillate, would be Odelay. Beck’s magnum opus is a sprawling sound collage of pop, folk, country, hip-hop, alternative rock, grunge, breakbeat and almost any other genre which you care to think of. Produced by the Dust Brothers, its heavy use of sampling is revolutionary. Especially in the context of an “indie/alternative artist” like Beck. As well as its status as a solid album, Odelay spawned some of the most memorable singles of the ‘90’s; the laidback, line dancing hip-hop funk of Where It’s At; the crunchy post-grunge of Devils Haircut; the mutant lounge pop of The New Pollution and the melancholic psychedelia of Jackass. For a young person today, approaching indie and alternative music for the first time, Odelay is a fantastic primer and could theoretically send you out in any number of directions for further musical explorations.

Day 10: Sonic Youth – Screaming Fields of Sonic Love

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When I first discovered that the central library in my city had a CD and Tape section I felt like a child at Christmas. I took out so many CD’s and copied them to cassette that it would be very hard to argue I didn’t massively abuse the system. The album I remember lending from the library and copying to tape the most is this fantastic Sonic Youth “best of” compilation, Screaming Fields of Sonic Love. This is a collection of tracks from Sonic Youth’s ‘80’s output – up to their masterpiece, Daydream Nation – but it’s sequenced in reverse chronological order. This has the amusing effect of the songs becoming more lo-fi as the album progresses. The album begins with perhaps their most melodic song, Teen Age Riot, and towards the end you find their noisier, no-wave inspired material like Inhuman, Making The Nature Scene and Brother James. I don’t know why it works so well, but it does. And I’ve been hooked on Sonic Youth ever since. This is probably the biggest influence on me in this list except for OK Computer. Sonic Youth gently nudged my attention away from British artists like Radiohead and towards American artists like Nirvana, Pavement, Pixies and Silver Jews. Even the British bands I got into after this were heavily indebted to Sonic Youth for their sound, bands like Idlewild and Urusei Yatsura.

All record cover images in this blogpost courtesy of Discogs

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Indie Rock Music Punk

Happy Birthday Kim Gordon

Happy birthday to the indie rock megastar that is Kim Althea Gordon. Best known as the bass player in legendary indie rock innovators Sonic Youth, she also has a long career as a visual artist.

After Sonic Youth, Gordon formed the band Body/Head in 2012, a noise guitar project which released an album and toured the US. In 2015 she published her memoir, Girl in a Band, which received critical acclaim and sold well.

She returned in 2019 with her first proper solo album, No Home Record. An experimental collection of exploratory electronic music with influences as diverse as hip hop, no wave and noise rock. This album too received critical acclaim.

Today we wish Kim a happy birthday.

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