Best tunes of 1990: #24 Sonic Youth “Kool thing”

<< #25     |     #23 >>

I’ve never seen the movie “He’s just not that into you” but it sounds like a stinker. It was based on a self-help book for single women that took its name from a line from the television series, “Sex and the city”. It would also make a great title for an unwritten list I’ve got going of illustrious bands that manage to make everyone else’s favourites list but that have never managed to win me over. This list includes Hüsker Dü, Skinny Puppy, Destroyer, and of course, Sonic Youth.

Yes. I fully realize that Sonic Youth is a great band, forever pioneering and highly influential to a lot of the bands that I do listen to regularly.

It’s not them, it’s me.

I can’t seem to swallow more than their singles. I guess I am one of those ‘squares’ that they refer to in the (admittedly brilliant) title for their singles compilation, “Hits are for squares”. Of course, “Kool thing” has a place on this compilation, being their second highest charting single (beaten only by “100%”) and appearing on what is arguably their most accessible album: their major label debut, “Goo”.

I have friends that swear by Sonic Youth. And these same friends will, I’m sure, sneer at this song choice because as far as they’re concerned, the Youth’s true discography ended at 1988’s “Daydream nation”. However, this is one track by these guys that I absolutely love and for the longest time, I had no idea that it was even a Sonic Youth tune. My only experience with it originally was hearing it played consistently on Toronto’s alt-rock station, CFNY (now EDGE 102.1), and thinking it was by some grrl rock band. It certainly had enough angst to fit that bill.

“Kool thing” features Kim Gordon on lead vocals and a guest spot by Public Enemy’s Chuck D, picking up bonus marks for nostalgia factor in my books. From what I understand, the song has roots in Gordon’s negative experience interviewing rapper LL Cool J for Spin magazine. And though it doesn’t overtly mention him by name, it references a few of his songs in the lyrics. There is plenty of attitude, posturing, and the aforementioned angst. The guitars rip and shred and sneer along with Kim Gordon while Chuck D and the high octane drumming just sit back, all cool, and play second fiddle. Of course, it’s Sonic Youth so it’s loud and brash, never taking care to avoid the eggshells.

Despite (or maybe because of) its inherent rage, this track feels perfect for ushering in the weekend so let’s get rowdy and riled up and shriek along with Gordon as she sings “I don’t wanna, I don’t think so!”

Yes. TGIF!

For the rest of the Best tunes of 1990 list, click here.


Vinyl love: The Beatles “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: The Beatles
Album Title: Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band
Year released: 1967
Year reissued: 2012
Details: black vinyl, 180 gram, stereo remaster, gatefold sleeve, paper cutouts

The skinny: The fab four’s eighth studio album is a classic, revolutionary for its studio production, songwriting, and artwork, and a must have in any vinyl collection.

Standout track: “A day in the life”


Best tunes of 2010: #28 The New Pornographers “Sweet talk, sweet talk”

<< #29    |    #27 >>

It feels like I just finished writing about The New Pornographers. However, that post is so two weeks ago now and is for a list of tracks from a completely different decade. And I can say with certainty this will not be the last time this Vancouver-based indie rock collective will be mentioned within these pages so let’s get talking about “Sweet talk, sweet talk”, song number twenty-eight in my Best tunes of 2010 list.

“Together”, the band’s fifth long player, was released at the beginning of May but The New Pornographers didn’t get around to releasing a video for “Sweet talk, sweet talk” until the following December. It was produced in conjunction with Oxfam America in support of efforts to raise funds for the cleanup in the wake of the BP oil spill. All three principal vocalists in the song, Carl Newman, Neko Case, and Kathryn Calder appear at the beginning of the video, saying a few words about the impacts this catastrophe had on the people of Louisiana, still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Katrina five years earlier, and trying to keep a seven month old issue (that seemed to have been dropped by the fickle media) in the public’s consciousness. The video shows footage from the devastated coastline, the affected wildlife and the real people whose livelihoods were laid to waste by the tragedy. It is interesting going back to watch it seven years removed from the incident and being reminded of something that seemed so front and centre, something we watched day in and day out in the news and that today, some of us might have forgotten had ever happened.

The track itself is brilliant number, staccato rhythm, vocals, and melodies that call to mind the interminable ticking of a clock and of course, the passing of time. Then, the handclaps kick in to add effervescence to an already upbeat feeling and the harmonizing and trading vocals of the three principals show how beautiful synergy can be. This and the big sound and irresistible hooks are the hallmarks of The New Pornographers’ music. “Sweet talk, sweet talk” truly is a sweet tune, no more talk necessary.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2010 list, click here.