Menu | Rating System | Guest Book | Archived Reviews:
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

  NYC Ghosts & Flowers  
  Sonic Youth  
Release Date:
Reviewed by:

I like Sonic Youth. Really.

Certain other Minions do not. "Feedback without a point," is Tracers' catchphrase.

But i think that it does have a point -- Sonic Youth use Feedback/Distortion to create texture. It's all about texture. Texture! That's what i want ...

Anyway, that said, this album, like A Thousand Leaves before it, has minimal distorion/feedback. At times, the guitars even sound clean! This could be a function of Jim O'Rourke's production.

Of course, "smooth sounding" is not what one expects of The Yooth, and let me digress and rant about this a minute... Someone -- track Jim O'Rourke down and slap him! (There's a crisp new $5 bill in it for you!) Jim O'Rourke produced NYC Ghosts & Flowers, which i think could have been GREAT, and i think he did a poor job. He dragged it down. He muted the sound. Okay, he ruined it! Certain songs could use some more feedback(Small Flowers Crack Concrete and StreamXSonik Subway) or for the vocals to be almost-buried (Side2Side and NYC Ghosts & Flowers). But that's not O'Rourke's style. No, he likes balance. No sound too far in the front, unless it's the voice. I'm sorry Jim, but Sonic Youth are a GUITAR band. Turn 'em up baby, let's hear some noise! Anyway, I think his production works real well on one song, Free City Rhymes. The rest of the time, i wish either that there was more noise or less voice. Like i said, you find him and slap him, i'll pay you five bucks. He f*cked up the last Superchunk album, and i think he screwed this one up as well....

Whew! It felt good to say that.

Now, i have just ranted about how i dislike the production, and yet you can see that i gave this LP four sponges. That firmly places it in the "slightly better than average" category. Well, i did that because the song writing on this is excellent. Sonic Youth wrote a damn fine album, and Jim O'Rourke kept it from reaching it's true potential. No, really. Behind all of the "art" and the "noise" Sonic Youth really know what to do with a guitar. In fact, to name drop an old-school punk band also from NYC, it's almost "Television-esque" at times. The title track NYC Ghosts & Flowers in particular contains light guitarwork balanced back and forth between the channels (if yer listening with headphones). I like this song. The vocals seem somewhat forced, and i really wish that the upswell in the guitars in the middle of the song got WAYYYY louder (again, O'Rourke kept it somewhat restrained), but it's a good tune.

And some of the other tunes come across real well. For example StreamXSonik Subway has been stuck in my head for two days now! AIIEEE!!!!

Anyway, my verdict on this disc: could have been a really good SY album. But Jim O'Rourke produced them down. In fact, without him the final track, Lightnin', could have been a great, loud, swirling, cathartic tune that left you exhausted but refreshed by the time it fades out. Instead it never builds ENOUGH and i am left disappointed at the end.....

Related Links:
  None available.  

Return to the top of this page. | Return to the Album Review menu.