Time takes its crazy Poll... Sonic Youth: Washing Machine

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Some days my favorite SY album. They were on fire live in this era. Let's give it a run and see what we think.

Poll Results

OptionVotes
The Diamond Sea 39
Washing Machine 16
Skip Tracer 9
Little Trouble Girl 4
Becuz 4
Unwind 3
Saucer-Like 3
No Queen Blues 2
Junkie's Promise 1
Panty Lies 0
Becuz Coda 0


Yelploaf, Monday, 21 January 2019 03:51 (three weeks ago) Permalink

this was my SY gateway album and thus will probably always be my favorite. this is impossible

resident hack (Simon H.), Monday, 21 January 2019 03:53 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Partly inspired by the Memphis albums thread but mostly because I'm feeling it heavy this week.

Yelploaf, Monday, 21 January 2019 03:54 (three weeks ago) Permalink

"The Diamond Sea", no contest

Locked in silent monologue, in silent scream (Sund4r), Monday, 21 January 2019 03:56 (three weeks ago) Permalink

i infuriated my spouse a few years back when we were in England on a brief daytrip with the express purpose of getting the recent vinyl reissue. was my bridge album between the early 90s-era to my preferred late90s-Sonic Nurse era.

Western® with Bacon Flavor, Monday, 21 January 2019 04:24 (three weeks ago) Permalink

It was my favourite album by anyone from about 95-97. It doesn't always hold up as well as a whole for me now but "The Diamond Sea" still flows so well and live footage from this time cooks.

Locked in silent monologue, in silent scream (Sund4r), Monday, 21 January 2019 04:30 (three weeks ago) Permalink

I know it's silly, but "The Diamond Sea" (while obviously an incredible song / showcase for feedback) makes me sad now given Thurston/Kim's fate

resident hack (Simon H.), Monday, 21 January 2019 04:32 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Yes, Diamond Sea is a heart breaker in hindsight. So is Junkie's Promise (clunker it is). Can't say for sure because they were such an oblique band lyrically but this album may have their most direct autobio writing. Washing Machine is my pick though I hope someone makes a compelling case for, like, Panty Lies or No Queen Blues.

Yelploaf, Monday, 21 January 2019 04:44 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Huh, I never thought of "The Diamond Sea" as being about Thurston's and Kim's relationship, or anything really obvious and concrete, but, now that you guys say it, I see how "tell her that you love her eternally" could seem sadly ironic in retrospect.

Locked in silent monologue, in silent scream (Sund4r), Monday, 21 January 2019 05:03 (three weeks ago) Permalink

i thought it was well known that that was what it was about

j., Monday, 21 January 2019 05:22 (three weeks ago) Permalink

I don't think it's obvious at all! The lines that refer to a relationship don't seem unambiguously positive to me either.

Locked in silent monologue, in silent scream (Sund4r), Monday, 21 January 2019 05:29 (three weeks ago) Permalink

i don't know if it's obvious or not! just that 'everybody says' that's what it's about

j., Monday, 21 January 2019 05:31 (three weeks ago) Permalink

yeah that seemed to be the common wisdom at the time

resident hack (Simon H.), Monday, 21 January 2019 05:39 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Interesting. I can't find anything about Moore saying that, either online or in Browne's book. I probably did read a journo saying it at some point, checked the words, and went 'eh'. It always seemed eerie and bittersweet to me, culminating in furious noise explosions, so it's hard for me to see it as a happy love song. I think I might have worked out some interpretation involving the self and the passage of time when I was 17.

Ha, Simon, my iTunes went straight to Blue Rodeo's "Diamond Mine" after this. Two psychedelic classics.

Locked in silent monologue, in silent scream (Sund4r), Monday, 21 January 2019 14:05 (three weeks ago) Permalink

'The Diamond Sea', duh.

pomenitul, Monday, 21 January 2019 14:25 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Just learned that the autographs on the kids' shirts on the cover are Thalia and Chris from Come! Is there a thread for bands signing other bands' merch?

Yelploaf, Tuesday, 22 January 2019 18:39 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Very far from my favorite SY album and maybe their worst of a good decade, still a B+ or B. Voted for "Skip Tracer."

Your sweetie-pie-coo-coo I love ya (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 22 January 2019 19:08 (three weeks ago) Permalink

toss-up between title track and "the diamond sea" ... i listened to "the diamond sea" a LOT in high school.

tylerw, Tuesday, 22 January 2019 19:15 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Saucer-Like. Achingly sad chorus. Lee's best. WM rules though, so many to choose from.

flappy bird, Tuesday, 22 January 2019 19:17 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Very far from my favorite SY album and maybe their worst of a good decade, still a B+ or B. Voted for "Skip Tracer."

― Your sweetie-pie-coo-coo I love ya (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, January 22, 2019 8:08 PM (fifty-one minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

I think I agree, which goes to show how fantastic their 90s output was. Voted 'The Diamond Sea'.

Uptown VONC (Le Bateau Ivre), Tuesday, 22 January 2019 20:01 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Coco was an infant (7/1/94) around the time that WM was being written and I always thought Diamond Sea was like a vague cautionary Alice In Wonderland tale for her.

Not related to this album, but reading this article makes it sound that Coco didn't talk to her dad for 6+ years, which is pretty sad:
https://nylon.com/articles/nylon-coco-gordon-moore-march-2017

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Tuesday, 22 January 2019 20:18 (three weeks ago) Permalink

(Voted "Little Trouble Girl")

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Tuesday, 22 January 2019 20:18 (three weeks ago) Permalink

I believe "Little Trouble Girl" was originally recorded for the Grace of My Heart soundtrack. It shows up in the movie somewhere but didn't make it onto the (exceptionally great) soundtrack album.

Hideous Lump, Thursday, 24 January 2019 05:36 (three weeks ago) Permalink

title track vs skip tracer vs diamond sea for me. will have to think about it

Paul Ponzi, Friday, 25 January 2019 06:02 (three weeks ago) Permalink

i went from being a massive sonic youth fan in the 80s to barely listening to them in the 90s and then getting some of those 2000s album, possibly for nostalgic reasons. i've never heard washing machine (or dirty or a thousand leaves for that matter). maybe i might listen to it today

my name is leee john, for we are many (NickB), Friday, 25 January 2019 07:42 (three weeks ago) Permalink

of those three i'd start with dirty, it was my first complete album by them and is still my fave. i think it's more punk and less prog, that's why i love it.

Ich bin kein Berliner (alex in mainhattan), Saturday, 26 January 2019 10:28 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Surprised at the (general) lack of love for 'Becuz'. Top 5 Kim song for me!

Steve Reich In The Afternoon (Against The 80s), Saturday, 26 January 2019 14:38 (three weeks ago) Permalink

I voted for title track. This was the great white whale in my teenage record collection; I think I finally heard it for the first time a couple years ago

slack thompson (Drugs A. Money), Saturday, 26 January 2019 16:02 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Voting Washing Machine because the bit where it turns into CCR still thrills me

Scam jam, thank you ma’am (Sparkle Motion), Saturday, 26 January 2019 17:20 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Haha yeah, it starts chooglin' like 70s Crazy Horse... plus Kim's vox in that part are great.

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Saturday, 26 January 2019 17:26 (three weeks ago) Permalink

NickB I am legit shocked by that, may you enjoy those great great records as much as I do

sleeve, Saturday, 26 January 2019 17:27 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Surprised at the (general) lack of love for 'Becuz'. Top 5 Kim song for me!

It's my #2.

Locked in silent monologue, in silent scream (Sund4r), Sunday, 27 January 2019 16:17 (two weeks ago) Permalink

omg i love "becuz"

hard not to vote for diamond sea, but washing machine might actually be my fav.

this was my first sy album.

macropuente (map), Sunday, 27 January 2019 17:07 (two weeks ago) Permalink

and "the diamond sea" was my introduction to long-form psychedelic guitar music, so it feels like the right choice

macropuente (map), Sunday, 27 January 2019 17:09 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Stuck between "Unwind" and "Saucer-Like."

Your sweetie-pie-coo-coo I love ya (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 28 January 2019 22:05 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I almost voted for "Unwind", it's so gorgeous

sleeve, Monday, 28 January 2019 22:16 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Saucer-Like > Washing Machine > Unwind > Little Trouble Girl is their prettiest 4 song run ever.

Yelploaf, Tuesday, 29 January 2019 20:26 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Saucer-Like is an easy pick for me. Lee is great and this is one of his best tracks.

Mario Meatwagon (Moodles), Tuesday, 29 January 2019 20:30 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Sunday, 10 February 2019 00:01 (six days ago) Permalink

skip tracer. the guitar sound / riffs on this track are gorgeous

braunld (Lowell N. Behold'n), Sunday, 10 February 2019 02:46 (six days ago) Permalink

Polled...yet totally screwed up

Rad Macca (Craig D.), Sunday, 10 February 2019 03:36 (six days ago) Permalink

the guitar guy played real cool feedback and super sounding riffs

Yelploaf, Sunday, 10 February 2019 04:05 (six days ago) Permalink

honey, here's a quarter

nicky lo-fi, Sunday, 10 February 2019 05:10 (six days ago) Permalink

^giving this another spin rn. Still sounds f'in awesome

aquaman goes to college (Drugs A. Money), Sunday, 10 February 2019 06:17 (six days ago) Permalink

the guitar guy played real cool feedback and super sounding riffs

this part is about Mecca Normal btw

sleeve, Sunday, 10 February 2019 07:15 (six days ago) Permalink

"If you want me to..."

calstars, Sunday, 10 February 2019 11:44 (six days ago) Permalink

Voted for title track, which just oozes warmth and so many crazy hooks, but Skip Tracer is also one of my favorite of theirs. A bit uneven (could skip Panty Lines ans Little Trouble Girl) but this is usually the SY album I recommend to people.

licorice oratorio (baaderonixx), Sunday, 10 February 2019 13:04 (six days ago) Permalink

hello 2016

Paul Ponzi, Sunday, 10 February 2019 13:56 (six days ago) Permalink

Passages of No Queen Blues make you think of YYYs' "No no no".
This album is better than the Goo-Dirty period, but it still lacks something, especially in that middle section: it's alright but not gripping.
Kinda hard to vote for anything else than The Diamond Sea.

Nabozo, Sunday, 10 February 2019 15:01 (six days ago) Permalink

the guitar guy played real cool feedback and super sounding riffs

this part is about Mecca Normal btw

Ha! Mecca Normal was my first live music experience when I saw them open for Sonic Youth in '93.

Yelploaf, Sunday, 10 February 2019 16:44 (six days ago) Permalink

xxp

the guitar guy played real cool feedback and super sounding riffs

this part is about Mecca Normal btw

Ha! Mecca Normal was my first live music experience when I saw them open for Sonic Youth in '93.

Yelploaf, Sunday, 10 February 2019 16:45 (six days ago) Permalink

it's one of those albums where the title totally turned me off. i think i maybe listened twice to it and got terribly bored. the diamond sea was lauded everywhere, it is by far the best thing on the album but i must say that i much prefer my sonic youth short and fast and not long and slow.

Ich bin kein Berliner (alex in mainhattan), Sunday, 10 February 2019 22:17 (six days ago) Permalink

love this album so much. voted for "washing machine" narrowly ahead of "becuz", "unwind", "skip tracer" and "the diamond sea", but really i love everything here.

Tim F, Sunday, 10 February 2019 22:36 (six days ago) Permalink

I like the top-rated comment on the youtube for the diamond sea:

yoyoyoyoyoyoyooyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyooyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyooyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyo

del griffith, Sunday, 10 February 2019 22:39 (six days ago) Permalink

i much prefer my sonic youth short and fast and not long and slow

I am exactly the opposite!

Paul Ponzi, Sunday, 10 February 2019 23:20 (six days ago) Permalink

Automatic thread bump. This poll's results are now in.

System, Monday, 11 February 2019 00:01 (five days ago) Permalink

Panty Lies deserved a vote for being the most dissonant / atonal "song" SY ever recorded (according to the WM wiki). Love it

flappy bird, Monday, 11 February 2019 00:14 (five days ago) Permalink

I'm good with these results

Paul Ponzi, Monday, 11 February 2019 00:21 (five days ago) Permalink

Damn a lot of people participated!

flappy bird, Monday, 11 February 2019 00:25 (five days ago) Permalink

Sonic Youth is as close to a consensus band for ILX as it gets really.

Tim F, Monday, 11 February 2019 01:20 (five days ago) Permalink

Panty Lies deserved a vote for being the most dissonant / atonal "song" SY ever recorded (according to the WM wiki). Love it

― flappy bird


surely there are more atonal / dissonant sy songs than Panty Lies.. like something from Confusion is Sex, the self-titled album, or maybe the Master Dik ep.. Panty Lies has distinct tonality, and it's an integral part of the album. WM was the first album sy album that I listened to obsessively, it's hard to view it objectively. Seeing them live (with no sense of anticipation) at Lollapalooza, and moving to Utah from New England in 1995 intensified my fixation on it somehow. It was like The Doors, or Pink Floyd to me. Panty Lies has a cool, spare, brooding tone that I like, and Kim's vocals don't kill it for me. The recording quality (clean guitar sound) is super pleasant. No Queen Blues is a marvelous track in the way that it starts off so jankity (like a squeaking washing machine) and builds into a kind of song, with its enveloping swathe of watercolor and decrepit guitars, and cool/affected Thurston vocals. It's just too short, though the ending is transforming. Saucer-Like has such a great vibe, like seeing through fresh eyes, w/almost MBV-like bliss or something

braunld (Lowell N. Behold'n), Monday, 11 February 2019 07:19 (five days ago) Permalink

Panty Lies has distinct tonality

Are you hearing F# as the tonal centre?

silent as a seashell Julia (Sund4r), Monday, 11 February 2019 16:57 (five days ago) Permalink

I don't know, i'd have to sit with a keyboard with it. I usually play by ear, never *really* learned how to read music, save for the basics. I can't recognize arbitrary (out of the air) frequencies or pitches--like "that's a C#" without first having a reference point. I was thinking about it (the main, clean guitar figure) last night, without listening to it.. it definitely seems tonal? There's a high register, sort of skree-ing guitar part that appears later on in the track--not sure if it agrees (wholly; harmonically / consonantly) with the main riff (it seems to?) ... it does seem tonal. The primary riff of the song seems to establish a definite tone (or tonality) for the duration of the track, though I don't really know music theory.

braunld (Lowell N. Behold'n), Monday, 11 February 2019 21:28 (five days ago) Permalink

Checking with my guitar and double-checking with Chris Lawrence's tabs: The bass does seem to ground it on F# (by mostly staying on that note!), as well as the way the vocal line comes back to F# on the repeated "air-air-air-air-air-air-air-air" refrains. It largely seems to be built around semitones and tritones, though. The main guitar riff alternates between D#-E, then between E-F, before hammering on a dissonant chord under the refrain that seems to be made of F, a bunch of F#s, and a B (016). Lee plays an A (a tritone from D#) under the D#-E bit and an F# under the E-F bit, I think. The vocal melody goes something like D#-G-F(-G-F) before landing on the F#. Then in the second verse, Thurston's starts a whole tone lower and the bass drops to D. The vocal line here seems to mostly ascend from C# to F#, though we might get G#s later.

Tbh, Kim's vocal and lyrics on this song often annoy me but breaking it down a bit helped bring home just how dissonant it gets and reminded me of how deliciously uneasy it could feel.

silent as a seashell Julia (Sund4r), Wednesday, 13 February 2019 03:32 (three days ago) Permalink

Sund4r, as a music theory know-nothing and a deep lover of this album and band, it is a joy to read your formal breakdown. I hope there's more of this kind of discussion.

Yelploaf, Wednesday, 13 February 2019 03:59 (three days ago) Permalink

Aw, thanks, I'm glad. Maybe I'll have time to tackle "No Queen Blues" tomorrow if we get another snow day.

silent as a seashell Julia (Sund4r), Wednesday, 13 February 2019 04:27 (three days ago) Permalink

In the meantime, here's a rocking live version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xiVP8xfLfWg

silent as a seashell Julia (Sund4r), Wednesday, 13 February 2019 04:27 (three days ago) Permalink

that's a great song, i had totally forgotten about it.

Ich bin kein Berliner (alex in mainhattan), Wednesday, 13 February 2019 06:07 (three days ago) Permalink

Sund4r, did you manage to catch which "note" the high-pitched feedback is? - it appears at some point, mid-way through the song, and it's not atonal

braunld (Lowell N. Behold'n), Wednesday, 13 February 2019 16:34 (three days ago) Permalink

also does atonality = the inharmonicity of the closely-related frequencies / notes ? or is it an arbitrary-ness (western tonality-wise) of the general "chord" structures?

braunld (Lowell N. Behold'n), Wednesday, 13 February 2019 16:55 (three days ago) Permalink

The broad meaning of atonality = the absence of a tonal centre, i.e. the piece of music is not in any key. Most music has a tonal centre (or tonic): one pitch that can be seen as most 'important' and functions as a sort of gravitational centre, usually giving the listener some kind of sense of stability when it is returned to. (So when "I Want You Back" is in the key of Ab major, part of what this means is that the note Ab - the first and last note of the famous bass riff - is the tonal centre, for example.) Other pitches have different hierarchical roles in relation to this central pitch - the note that is a fifth above the tonic is usually of major importance (and the second-last note of that riff is Eb, a fifth above Ab, as is the first note of the vocal melody). Melodies and chord progressions are usually built around this system (which is what I think you're getting at with your second option). Even music that is not built around chord progressions can have a tonal centre, though, e.g. in Indian classical music. Atonal music, e.g. Schoenberg from 1909 on, does away with this hierarchical system of pitch organization and does not place any one pitch as a centre. The organizational principles that replace it can be highly varied.

I do think F# mostly functions as a centre in "Panty Lies", through the brute force of the bassline and the refrain, but it does seem interesting how dissonant and chromatic it is - any feeling of resolution at that refrain is undermined by the dissonance of Thurston's chord there; it is hard to identify any harmonic progression. (Obv, these are ideas that this band has played with elsewhere as well.)

silent as a seashell Julia (Sund4r), Thursday, 14 February 2019 02:46 (two days ago) Permalink

Linking this discussion on the music theory thread

silent as a seashell Julia (Sund4r), Thursday, 14 February 2019 02:49 (two days ago) Permalink

Doesn't sound atonal to me, it just sounds like he's imitating the lead guitar on "Friction", mangling a melodic minor scale and rendering its changeable pitches non-functional

flamboyant goon tie included, Thursday, 14 February 2019 04:06 (two days ago) Permalink

Television's "Friction"?

silent as a seashell Julia (Sund4r), Thursday, 14 February 2019 04:14 (two days ago) Permalink

Wait, do you mean "No Queen Blues"? That's comparatively straightforward, I think. "Panty Lies" was the one we were breaking down.

silent as a seashell Julia (Sund4r), Thursday, 14 February 2019 04:55 (two days ago) Permalink

forgot to mention the bit on wikipedia about Panty Lies is a) no longer there, and b) didn't say it was atonal but "their most dissonant song"

flappy bird, Thursday, 14 February 2019 05:08 (two days ago) Permalink

Panty Lies would be one of the least dissonant songs on Confusion Is Next/Kill Yr Idols.

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Thursday, 14 February 2019 05:19 (two days ago) Permalink

Yes I listened to No Queen Blues. I’ll give a listen to the other one tomorrow

flamboyant goon tie included, Thursday, 14 February 2019 06:05 (two days ago) Permalink

“Panty Lies” seems no more dissonant than the average track on, say, Psychic Hearts

(this is my least favorite Kim G. vocal style, I think... can’t take it for the length of the song)

yuh yuh (morrisp), Thursday, 14 February 2019 06:34 (two days ago) Permalink

ha I like her grunting mode

flappy bird, Thursday, 14 February 2019 18:39 (two days ago) Permalink

Idk if "most dissonant song" is a meaningful concept, and it seems that no one is calling it atonal anymore, but I do feel like "Panty Lies" pushes tonality a lot more than something like "Ono Soul", which seems pretty solidly D Phrygian with a lot of fifths in the harmony. (I probably like the latter song a lot more btw.)

I actually think Kim did some pretty challenging things this way in this period, even more on the next album and some of the SYRs.

silent as a seashell Julia (Sund4r), Thursday, 14 February 2019 19:53 (two days ago) Permalink

Yeah there are a lot of great Kim-sung noisy moments on A Thousand Leaves

aquaman goes to college (Drugs A. Money), Thursday, 14 February 2019 21:50 (two days ago) Permalink

French Tickler is a killer

flappy bird, Friday, 15 February 2019 05:39 (yesterday) Permalink


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