Sonic Youth
The Destroyed Room: B-Sides and Rarities

Reviewed by: Andrew Gaerig
Reviewed on: 2007-01-11

Posted 01/11/2007 - 01:13:13 PM by grandbanks:
 Well, time to get the feet wet again. Let's hope everyone can keep things in perspective this time, eh. In the past I have been an at times harsh critiquer of the writing on this site, but my intention was never to merely chuff myself up. I truly believe in the things I say (which I also got quite a bit of ribbing for here), and they were essentially meant to be constructive comments, though I did get carried away at times (Sorry Mathers). I will not discontinue these efforts, but I will try to stay above the fray, so to speak. I will also stop talking about myself presently. Apologies to those new to these comments sections, as you have no idea what I'm talking about. The gist of this review is dead-on, certainly no place to begin with this band and nowhere that anyone who is a fan hasn't been with them before. Some decent insights and small pleasures but nothing making this an essential listen. Withered might be a slight overstatement as to their influence, as these folks have popped up on nearly every year-end list I have seen (which is A LOT), just curated an amazing ATP line-up and are responsible for almost non-stop extra-curricular activity including side-projects, music reviews, innumerable collabs and pretty steady tours with typically under-exposed openers who seem to blow up (relatively) after said tours. Just saying. Also, what this release screams of is not odds-n-sods holiday cash-in, as surely this will sell very few copies and merely diminish the newfound enthusiasm of those who didn't think this band still made good records (i.e. the universally positive Rather Ripped press parade). What it does scream of is contract obligation end-game. This will be the last SY-related Geffen release and is completely indicative of it. All of this material is essentially shit you can tell the band didn't care much about and were willing to let go to this cause. The real question is whether this signals the end of the band entity (go out on a high note after Rather Ripped?) or a new era of most likely self-released albums (newly energised Ecstatic Peace)? We'll find out soon enough, but I fear the first outcome. With most of the band in their 50's with plenty of other things going on and nothing left to prove, why wait? Well, if they can pull off a Murray Street (by far the best of the three much lauded '00 records) every 5 years or so, more power to them. The one undeniable fact is that no band in the history of the youth- and trend-fest that is rock music has so gracefully and effortlessly and, at least in my opinion, successfully, kept themselves an ongoing point of interest and reference. Like them or not they are in totally alien territory and I sincerely hope that they continue to test just how long they can maintain it. It's like when Thurston got that shitty tattoo all those years ago he was making a self-fulfilling prophecy. Sonic Life indeed.
Posted 01/12/2007 - 04:48:52 AM by meatbreak:
 I have to agree with grandbanks cynicism here, though not to the extent that this is an album of crappy dog-end tracks. It is a rare event that such an aged band return with such good material and three albums in a row of worthwhile music is really enough to bow out on, especially considering the sidelines they are involved in. For the purposes of hearing how this band could sustain their longevity, I think this album serves as a good reference. It's not all great stuff because most jams in the practice room are always returned to later and dissected, but for keen fans of which there a lot, I think this album will be pretty interesting. I do take issue with Andrew's comment in the final paragraph though: 'its instrumental-heavy tracklist prohibits it from being a good newbie recommendation'. Really? That sounds like a strange statement to make when discussing a band who aren't well known for their verse/chorus structure in the first place and a judgement on these 'newbie' people implying they must be lead softly softly into things from a more comfortably 'pop' angle. 'Death Valley 69' would be my suggested entry point into Sonic Youth and it's also their definitive song, in my opinion.
Posted 01/12/2007 - 01:07:25 PM by grandbanks:
 Probably no one is going to keep following this, but a couple of more things. I certainly don't think these are crappy tracks, just not high up on the list of SY related things to check out. Of course I have to listen to it all and love it, but trying to be objective here. Wish more people would delve right into this shit and then get surprised that they can write versey-chorusey stuff too, but hey, I'm just glad they keep it up at all. Basically Meatbreak and I have the same opinion (as I guess happens a lot), and I totally agree with "Death Valley '69" as one of those songs that everyone should have to hear. I find the version on the "Hold That Tiger" live record to be my favorite, totally shredding the album version, but either is great. Guess the album wins for some for the Lydia Lunch factor, but the live album in general has really great versions of several songs. Expressway to Yr Skull also great on that album.
Posted 02/01/2007 - 11:28:09 AM by houroftheowls:
 Contractual obligation. Too bad. Stuff like this is what bands should make available for free download on a web site. Then there's little need to burn up petrochemicals and cut down trees and pay the copyright on CD jewel cases.