Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation
Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
By refining the song-oriented breakthroughs of Sister and developing their fascination with noise and alternate tunings, Sonic Youth created a masterpiece of post-punk art rock with the double-album Daydream Nation. Though the self-conscious sprawl of the album might appear self-indulgent on the surface, Daydream Nation is powered by a sustained vision, one that encapsulates all of the group's quirks and strengths. Alternating between tense, hypnotic instrumental passages and furious noise explosions, the music demonstrates a range of emotions and textures, and in many ways, it's hard not to listen to the record as one long piece of shifting dynamics. But the songs themselves are remarkable, from the anti-anthem of "Teen Age Riot" and the punky "Silver Rocket" to the hazy drug dreams of "Providence" and the rolling waves of "Eric's Trip." Daydream Nation demonstrates the extent to which noise and self-conscious avant art can be incorporated into rock, and the results are nothing short of stunning.
Live's Throwing Copper
Review by Gina Boldman
On Throwing Copper, Live tightened their sound, added crashing crescendos for dramatic effect, and injected some anger into their sound and songwriting. They also eased up a bit on the Eastern philosophy; the result is a more cohesive, memorable record overall, and quite an improvement from the sometimes overly precious Mental Jewelry. And for all of Mental Jewelry's ideologies, Throwing Copper is ultimately a more passionate and successful album, thanks to tracks like "I Alone," "Selling the Drama," and "All Over You," all of which received heavy radio play. The rebirth-themed "Lightning Crashes," the album's biggest hit, was written in memory of Barbara Lewis, a classmate who was killed by a drunk driver in 1993. Other standouts include the Kurt Cobain/Courtney Love-inspired "Stage," the apocalyptic "White, Discussion," the bass-driven, obsessive "Iris," and the dark "Dam at Otter Creek." Of course, Ed Kowalczyk couldn't resist throwing in a song like "T.B.D." (for the Tibetan Book of the Dead), based on Aldous Huxley's slow descent into death, aided by heroin. Its melodrama is a bit much, even for Live, and is just a sign of things to come on their next album, Secret Samadhi. But Throwing Copper is still a huge improvement from Mental Jewelry, and is the least overtly preachy Live album to date.