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All in a Daydream: Sonic Youth’s “Teen Age Riot”

Luckily your imagination will never be more fertile then when you’re a teen. Sonic Youth can testify to that.

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From the very first chords that almost reluctantly emerge from Thurston Moore’s guitar, “Teen Age Riot” has me hook, line and sinker. Kim Gordon’s sultry opening vocals lure you into the song’s grasp like a moth to the flame. Yet the song’s hesitant and brooding intro gradually gives way to a youthful energy that will not be denied. “You better look it/ We’re gonna shake it up to him / He acts the hero / We paint a zero on his hand.” We’ve all gone through that phase in our life when we’ve decided “I’m gonna do what I want, wear what I want, listen to what I want, go where I want and I don’t give a fuck what you think about it.” It’s called being a teenager. That ‘Fuck You’ free spirit is what this track is all about. We’re gonna play our tunes as hard as we can and we don’t care if you want it or like it. The older we get the harder it becomes to hold on to this feeling. Other things tend to get in the way and cloud our vision- jobs, careers, mortgages, families, the overbearing expectation that we need to settle down and become respectable members of society. These are important things to be sure but if it comes at the cost of losing that youthful energy and passion then it’s too high a price to pay. If you let it, “Teen Age Riot” can be the spark to a sense of urgency that you hadn’t even realised you’d lost. “Teen Age Riot” will electroshock your apathy and reawaken your willingness to throw yourself into the fire, to hell with the risks because life is just too fucking short.

“Got a foghorn and a drum and a hammer that’s rockin’/ And a cord and a pedal and a hammer that’ll do me for now.”

Sonic Youth in their early days in New York.

Of course there’s a few downsides to being a teenager- school sucks, you’ve got no money, everyone suspects that you’re a criminal and all the cool venues tell you to keep moving. You’ve got to make your own fun with whatever you can find, whether it’s a beat up guitar, a skate park or a football. More than any other time in your life it’s what you make of it that counts. Luckily your imagination will never be more fertile then when you’re a teen. Sonic Youth can testify to that. In their embryonic stage in New York’s burgeoning underground art-rock scene Sonic Youth would collect cheap, broken, out of tune second hand guitars wherever they found them and experiment on them to create new sounds that pushed the boundaries of what a rock band could sound like.

“Teen Age Riot”, the lead single off the magnum opus Daydream Nation, would propel Sonic Youth from indie scene darlings into mainstream rock icons. Over more than twenty years, Sonic Youth have consistently produced a staggeringly high number of quality releases. Though their sound has morphed and evolved over the journey, the youthful vigour and carefree spirit so celebrated in “Teen Age Riot” has rarely been surpassed.

Here’s to the elusive freedom and hope of youth. We waste it when we have it and we forever lament its loss after it slips out of our grasp.

Sonic Youth’s fifth studio album, Daydream Nation, was released in October 1988 on Enigma Records.

Reviews

Calvin Clone – Machines [single]

Meshed together with the cyber sounds of machines throughout, it’s a weird but working combination

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Calvin Clone Machines

The year is 2040. The war between human vs machine is at the forefront. Is it too late for humans to take back the world from Artificial Intelligence? Are we already outrun by machines? Have no fear, Calvin Clone is here. “Machines” is the first of three singles released by Melbourne artist Calvin Clone. This first track allows listeners to see into the future through song. Setting it simply, according to Calvin Clone, our world is taken over by machines, and I don’t know about you but that doesn’t sound too crazy to me.

Founder and creator of Calvin Clone, Jack Alexandrovics, “combines dance, pop, industrial and rock to create a vision of cyberpunk.” This single shows a great connection music can have between modern and classic interpretation. There is a fantastic guitar riff throughout the song and really stands out when played. Meshed together with the cyber sounds of machines throughout, it’s a weird but working combination.

Alexandrovics’s theatrical voice adds yet another element to the song. He explains that his music is “closer to a theatre production than a conventional gig”. The vocal element in “Machines” exposes an ability to move up and down the scales flawlessly.

It is really exciting to see artists thinking outside of the conventional box. Calvin Clone explores modern and futuristic ideas yet keeps the integrity of a smashing guitar riff and untouched voice. There will be two more singles released by the end of the year which will all be part of his EP Kinetics. Calvin Clone is ambitious with visuals and sonics, and wants the live audience to be fully engaged in all aspects of his live performance. “Machines” has been stuck in my head for days. It’s catchy and engaging and I can’t wait to hear what else may be coming our way. This is only the beginning.

(self-released)

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Reviews

The Ritualists – Painted People

The Ritualists play some determined, strong-willed music

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ritualists

After listening to Painted People by The Ritualists, I was very surprised to learn that this is their debut album. This band shows a maturity in their music that I would not expect from a first album and provides inspirational sounding tracks with ‘reach for the stars’ type of guitar riffs. I hear a modern version of U2 in The Ritualists, along with an influence of Radiohead. Their songs are full, wholehearted post-punk hooks with a lead singer that has a sizeable range.

“Rattles” opens the album, and it’s the type of song that shows their audience that they are here to stay. It has a great build-up of excitement and intensity. The band explains that this song is “A combination of dark, deep-pocketed verses juxtaposed with big, flashy choruses is a key element to tracks”.

Ice Flower” and “Worthiest One” welcomes an electronic wave to the album and showcases just how impressive lead singer Christian Dryden’s range is. His ability to hit those high notes with such conviction puts my falsetto abilities to shame. “Worthiest One” brings this sort of nostalgic feeling- it’s a rock ballad with a floaty guitar riff.

“She’s The Sun” is a great follow-on from “Worthiest One” as it transfers the mood upwards and directs the music into more of a hypnotic vision, which conveys “the band’s inner Sixties Love Child”. “I’m With The Painted People” has a really relatable background to the song. Dryden felt a larger than life inspiration from people like David Bowie and Simon Le Bon, these artists felt like soulmates, which can be lonely at times. It wasn’t until he ventured out into the clubs of the lower east side of New York which helped him feel comfortable to express his creative vision freely. The song is all about finding like-minded people.

There are hooks galore and catchy choruses in pretty much every song. “With this record, I’ve specifically tried to be anthemic,” admits Dryden. “I’ve always loved going to shows, where immediately after the performance, and even on the ensuing days after, you just can’t help but remember and sing the songs you’ve just heard. It’s almost like a higher form of communication.” The Ritualists play some determined, strong-willed music and Painted People shows hints of variations with different genres explored throughout. They sound motivated and in return have produced motivating music for their listeners.

(Out Of Line Music)

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