Anna Minard claims to "know nothing about music." For this column, we force her to listen to random records by artists considered to be important by music nerds.
Sonic Youth Confusion is Sex (Neutral)
Three quick housekeeping issues: (1) Neither Captain Beefheart nor Frank Zappa were on acid during the recording of Trout Mask Replica, according to various commenters, music nerds, and the internet. I find this very, very sad, because I still don't like it, and now I guess they were serious. BUMMER. (2) People hate me on the internet now! So exciting. My mom's gonna be proud. And (3) sorry this column didn't happen last week. I am only a semiprofessional music-not-knower-abouter, and my real job comes first.
On to Sonic Youth! The title of this column isn't technically true here—I have heard the name Sonic Youth before (I had the rock under which I have been living drilled with air holes a few years ago), but I've never listened to them on purpose. I didn't really like track one, and I got pretty worried that I was gonna be miserable again. "She's in a baaaaaad moooooood…" probably because of your weird bee noises in the background, guys. And the track falls apart at the end, devolving into a kind of music I've complained about in this column before. Except… I think I might like it? I don't know what's happening, but there's this buildup at the end, which feels like something I would usually call "bullshit," and I'm just really okay with it. It's… exciting? I even like the huge, strange tone at the end that goes on for like 10 seconds, and I'm sorry when it's done.
I quickly realized that these songs sound like the soundtrack to a fever dream, as I kept having weirdly vivid instant associations with the songs. It's like the score of a lo-fi late-'80s/early-'90s horror movie with a child protagonist. On track two, "Protect Me You," the kid is hiding in a pitch-dark church, waiting for his or her inevitable demise, maybe praying a little. If I close my eyes while listening to the beginning of track three, "Freezer Burn/I Wanna Be Your Dog" (which makes me feel like I'm in an airplane engine), I can't shake the feeling that I'm about to be stabbed from behind. Creepy! Then the second part starts, and its guitar part sounds familiar for some reason, and I've probably listened to it 15 times so far, at least. I just keep hitting rewind. Track four, "Shaking Hell," is a demento carnival, and maybe there's a cheesy/scary part where the kid's on a spinny ride and sees the murderer and then when he spins around to that part again the murderer's just gone.
Anyway, there's not room for a whole track-by-track breakdown, but I really liked this album, and I don't know why. It follows every rule I can think of for me hating shit (gross lyrics—"Shake off your flesh"? Ew, check! Noise for no apparent reason? There's a ton! Repetitive unpleasant sounds under the surface of everything? Hella check!) and yet here I am, still listening to it, and kind of wanting to jump up and down a little bit. Or a lot. Don't worry, I won't.
Confusion Is Sex gets a "what are these strange new feelings?" out of 10.
Listen to "Freezer Burn/I Wanna Be Your Dog" after the cut.