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Picks and Pans Review: The Whitey Album

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Ciccone Youth

So you buy the latest Sonic Youth record because you remember, “This is the band that the music press loves, the band that’s supposed to be so innovative and smart.” Then you put the record on the turntable and prepare to listen to it by telling yourself, “Maybe I didn’t like the first four Sonic Youth albums because I didn’t pay enough attention to them. That’s why I’m going to listen to every note of this double album.”

So you listen, and you listen and you hear some good things. This band really can twist unusual guitar tunings into expressive if jarring sounds that bring to mind avant-garde classical music. But at the same time you ask yourself, “Why does this record seem longer than any I’ve ever heard in my life? Why does it sound like a lot of boring feedback and bad singing to me?” So then you tell yourself, “I know that Sonic Youth joined up with Firehose’s Mike Watt to record The Whitey Album. They renamed themselves Ciccone Youth as an attempt at a joke because the album includes parodies of a couple of songs by Madonna [whose last name is Ciccone]. Maybe if I hear this record, I will finally understand the appeal of the Youth movement.” So you listen, and you listen and you say to yourself, “Yeah, that song “Into the Groovey” [a parody of Madonna‘s “Into the Groove”] is pretty funny with its distorted voice effects and sinister guitars. But the rest of this album sounds extremely self-indulgent, a grating conglomeration of loud noises, silence and inane conversations.”

So then you tell yourself, “Maybe if I met the members of Sonic Youth and saw how charming and brilliant they are I would like their music as much as all the hip music insiders I do.” So you decide to just sit near your door and wait for Sonic Youth to drop by to explain themselves, and in the meantime you look around for some other records to listen to. (Both: Enigma/Blast First)