Artist: Sonic Youth
Album: The Eternal
Released: June 9, 2009
Label: Matador Records
Consider this my first entry in an attempt to get back to an actual "jam of the day", as in a daily sharing of a jam. I played The Eternal on my mini-speakers in my bathroom while showering earlier this evening. Usually, I play something upbeat and poppy that I can sing along to (or at least try to, before realizing I can't sing at all) but this time I felt like something more ... I don't know, sprawling, less "sing-songy". I picked Sonic Youth's latest studio LP because I can kinda sing along to some of it, like "Sacred Trixster", but also because it would be fun to blare in a tiny, tiled room. I definitely belted out the verses of the pop-punk speed-ride of "Sacred Trixster" and did my best to mirror Kim Gordon's husky "uh uh uh uh" during "Anti-Orgasm", then struggled with the lyrics to "Leaky Lifeboat" (I haven't quite picked those up yet) but then "Antenna" came on and I pretty much blissed out while rinsing out the conditioner from my lengthy locks. It's not often that a song comes along and stops you in your tracks. In particular, I thought back to watching Sonic Youth play some of these songs for a Pitchfork.tv session a couple years ago when the album came out. I remembered the way that Thurston Moore alternates some foot pedals during the "uh huh -- uh huh" part of "Sacred Trixster" and mimicked that part with my feet. I remembered the overhead view of Steve Shelley's drum parts during "What We Know" and the way Lee Ranaldo leans back during the rising guitar riffs and then leans back into the mic to sing. (Yeah, I really like that song. A lot.) And then I thought of "Antenna" when it came on my iPod. The album version of the song is 6+ minutes, stretching out some noisy guitar effects over a lovely melody, with slow crescendos and plaintive singing all about ... the effect of technology on society? The inevitable singularity? The disconnect between human contact and intercontinental communication? Hard to say. What I can say, though, is that this song is a true jam. It has the ability to steal my thoughts away and wedge my mind into the spaces between the notes and carry me along the undulating sound waves to wherever they're going. And then I'm back where I started, sitting here at my kitchen table with headphones on. And then the journey starts all over again.
Buy The Eternal: Matador Records / SYR Store / Insound / Amazon / iTunes