Urban Industry

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Friday Tunes: Sonic Youth ‘Murray Street’

November 08, 2013

It would be churlish of me to deny the fact I’ve been listening to Action Bronson’s latest ‘Blue Chips 2’ an awful lot this week (if you’ve not heard it yet, head over to our friends at The Daily Street for the full album stream). However, the point of this Friday Tunes blog is to shine a spotlight on the different types of stuff we listen to here at Urban Industry and not just solely as a reflection as what everyone in streetwear-land is currently spinning.

I make no secret of the fact I’m a huge Sonic Youth fan. They’ve been making records for longer than I’ve been alive and it’s a very rare that I won’t find some redeeming qualities in the work they produce. 2002’s ‘Murray Street’ is a personal favourite of mine. After a few years of increasingly experimental and obscure recordings, this album saw the band return more focused than before. A lean album (by their standards) with a running time of 46 minutes, it was the most concise Sonic Youth record released in years. It was also the first album from the band to land in the post-9/11 landscape. The record is named after Murray Street, the location of the veteran underground rock outfit's downtown New York recording studio. Murray Street also happens to be a literal stone's throw from the former site of the World Trade Centre; an engine from one of the planes that hit the towers landed in the middle of the road on that horrific September morning. Band leader Thurston Moore, speaking in 2002 said “"We really didn't get to look at the studio until a few weeks later," noting that a 16-man decontamination crew had to be called in to restore the equipment to working order. “Eventually, there was a certain desire to reclaim our workspace in the face of this neighbourhood being destroyed. Our mood in approaching this record and actually executing it was certainly different than what it would have been prior."

There’s some great tracks on this record. Opener ‘The Empty Page’ is a good indicator of what the album is about – trademark SY noise and experimentation but tempered with structure and melody. I’ve always had a soft spot for guitarist Lee Ranaldo’s songs, so track four ‘Karen Revisted’ is a real stand-out for me. If you’ve not listened to Sonic Youth before then I highly recommend this album as a starting point.

By SeanM