Sonic Youth – Daydream Nation

Sonic YouthThere are few records that have actually changed music and the way we hear it. There are influential records, of course, the records that inspire people to make a band in the first place. But for all of those records, there’s a small few that really create a seismic shift in music culture. Daydream Nation by Sonic Youth is one of them. Sonic Youth had a ten year plus career in the underground where they released six albums to mass acclaim. Still the band didn’t exactly sell loads until they signed for Enigma, a label that was distributed by Capitol Records.

Daydeam Nation is Sonic Youth’s definitive statement; they’ve always oscillated between avant-garde noisescapes and pure rock and roll. Daydream Nation seems to capture the band at their best. My favourite Sonic Youth track might not be on here (“Sunday” from 1998’s A Thousand Leaves), but this is SY’s most consistent album. From the droning “The Sprawl” to the stunning “Teenage Riot”, this is as experimental and clever as major label music can get. Recently re-issued, Daydream Nation now has a bonus disc with some live versions of the album tracks. The songs are recorded in a variety of locations, so the mixing and clarity vary but it’s academic: the quality still shines through. There’s also some nice cover versions, recorded at the same time as the album itself, but don’t really add anything to the overall experience.

Daydeam Nation was a landmark record: after recording it, major label Geffen came a calling and the band made the jump from indie to major label. This was unheard of at the time: bands did not sign to major labels especially after a career spent making music as unconventional as Sonic Youth. After signing with Geffen, the band released their next album Goo in 1990 which was met with positive commercial success. Flushed with optimism, Geffen then signed a little known Seattle rock band on the recommendation of Sonic Youth. That band was Nirvana. Music culture changed forever.

Sonic Youth – Teenage Riot:


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