Sonic Youth - EVOL LP
Evol – the fourth album by Sonic Youth – came out in 1986, and marked the debut of baby-faced SY drummer Steve Shelley. With Shelley's penchant for motorik rhythms and controlled velocity, the band began a trilogy of records that comprise what are arguably the three strongest records of their catalog: Evol, Sister, and Daydream Nation. Up until then, Thurston Moore, Kim Gordon, and Lee Ranaldo had cycled through a number of percussionists with varying degrees of success. Shelley's ability to handle the pop-punk grooves and the avant-garde tumble with equal aplomb provided the foundation for Sonic Youth to begin to flower into the avant-pop iconoclastic band that we now know and love today. The album's highlights are numerous – "Tom Violence," "Starpower," "Expressway To Yr Skull" (probably, the best shorthand descriptor for a song, an attitude, a state of mind, a philosophy that could be distilled from Sonic Youth) – all of which are produced through a graceful dissonance of the amazing slipstream of noise and melody, atomized well beyond their punk-as-fuck origins but never far from a pop-crush chorus. Sonic Youth's omnivorous appetite for pretty much every form of music – Madonna, Glenn Branca, La Monte Young, Crime, Public Enemy, The Carpenters, Destroy All Monsters, etc. – was remarkably ahead of its time. For Sonic Youth, the intake of so many forms and their ability to synthesize such disparate elements was seen as a microcosm / macro-explosion of the Lower East Side as a wholesale form of arte povera. But some 30 years later, Evol is the kind of record that is expected for the contemporary audience, whereby every artist is supposed to know everything that came before and is completely aware of everything that is going on anywhere in the world. Logistical improbabilities of that being actualized by any current practitioner, Sonic Youth were able to see into the future beginning with Evol; and they achieved something that probably can't be replicated in the contemporary lens of social media. Here, punk rock has been rechristened as the combine, the assemblage, the collage – all of this goes into one of their legitimate masterpieces with a pitch-perfect sense of irony to match their non-pitch perfect anti-tunings. So what the fuck does all this mean? Just buy this goddamn record if you haven't already got it.