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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars messengers from a better world
Sonic Youth are simply one of the best alternative bands around, right up there with multi-talented experimentalist John Zorn. This album, like their others, is several things: beautiful, transcendant, melodic, melancholy, rocking, noisy, and atmospheric; often within the same song. "Disconnection Notice" and "Karen Revisited" are probably the best...
Published on October 30, 2002 by S. R Robertson

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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars classic rock, godhead style
So here we have it finaly,the latest offering from the great elderstatesmen(and woman)of underground rock. As with most of the band's releases since there 80's heyday, Murray St. is sure to meet with mixed reviews within their fanbase. Assertaining the stregnths of thier new material depends on which side of the fence you're on. While this album has the potential to...
Published on June 30, 2002 by Terrence Rusch


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars messengers from a better world, October 30, 2002
This review is from: Murray Street (Audio CD)
Sonic Youth are simply one of the best alternative bands around, right up there with multi-talented experimentalist John Zorn. This album, like their others, is several things: beautiful, transcendant, melodic, melancholy, rocking, noisy, and atmospheric; often within the same song. "Disconnection Notice" and "Karen Revisited" are probably the best songs, the latter starts out with beautiful song structure, then erupts into explosive noise, then into several minutes of awesome underwater exploration that shifts and rumbles like the tides of the ocean. "Rain On Tin" has a short stanza, then it turns into 3 0r 4 minutes of glorious free jazz rock improv; "Sympathy For The Strawberry" is equally amazing, starting out with the improvisation rather than ending with it, then metamorphosizing perfectly into the soul meets hiphop meets sad shakuchia meets lovely chorus that it is, it then ends the same way it started--with eruptive improvisation. The anger and rebellious behaviour of the album's shortest and most accessible song, "Plastic Sun", is fully realized and right on, attacking the state of things in mainstream entertainment industries as well as the brutal manipulative state of the governing world in general. The lyrics for "Radical Adults..." are probably the best, but the coolest thing about this song is the wild horn-filled insanity at the end...it's sounds like Naked City came along for the ride or something. "The Empty Page" is as well a good peice, but I found myself skipping over it to get to the really good stuff. If there is any hype for this album, believe it. This is another masterpeice by the Sonic Youth.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This may take a while..., September 1, 2003
By 
Wheelchair Assassin (The Great Concavity) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Murray Street (Audio CD)
Usually, I figure two or three listens are enough to get an idea of whether or not I like an album. I've reviewed some albums as early as the second time I've heard them. "Murray Street," however, defied my initial opinion-forming efforts. I'm currently at about my eighth listen, and I'm just figuring out how I feel about it. I had heard of, but never heard, Sonic Youth before I heard "Radical Adults Lick Godhead Style" on an internet station and decided to check out the album, so I can honestly say that my opinion of "Murray Street" isn't impacted by any preconceptions regarding this band or their previous body of work. Judged on its own merits, though, this album definitely calls for a more thorough examination of the Sonic Youth catalog.
Anyway, what does the album sound like, you might ask? Well, if I say so myself, pretty great. My own personal experience indicated that this album requires an ear for detail and repeated listens to get into, so I recommend to any listeners that they give this album some time and attention before rendering a judgement one way or another. Based on what I've read, this album isn't as extravagant or adventurous as Sonic Youth's previous work, but that doesn't mean it's without its charm.
"Murray Street" as a whole has a rather trippy and melodic vibe; I could even go so far as to describe much of the material here as "laid-back," but not at all in a bad way. The musicianship here is very high-quality, but the band members clearly aren't out to beat you over the head with their chops; one reason this album took me a while was because the subtleties of the music were gradually revealed to me with each subsequent listen. Traditional pop song structures can be found here, but the band can also launch into extended, improvised-sounding instrumental passages with equal success. Of special note are the mind-bending guitar solos that leave no doubt as to why Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo were both ranked in the top forty of Rolling Stone's list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time (I personally thought that list was somewhat of a travesty, but making it is still pretty impressive).
The band may have three skilled guitarists, but awe-inspiring, Hendrix-style displays of technical prowess are not to be found. Instead, Thurston and company reveal themselves to be masters of atmosphere. When every member gets locked in together and those guitars intertwine, it makes for some truly transcendent listening. "Radical Adults Lick Godhead Style," which I found to be the most accessible and "rocking" song on here, is an excellent guitar song that displays equal amounts of virtuosity and efficiency. The jagged lead lines and angular hooks are sure to get your head bobbing, and they're enhanced by mesmerizing background atmospherics that propel the song to dizzying heights. When Sonic Youth reach that perfect middle ground between conventional and experimental rock, it makes for some of best listening of the past few years.
The other songs on "Murray Street" aren't quite as immediate, but they're a taste worth acquiring. "The Empty Page" and "Disconnection Notice" may sound easygoing on first listen, but there's an abundance of intricate, fascinating noise roiling beneath the surface. "Rain On Tin" and "Karen Revisited" start out in a similar manner before shifting gears and turning into prolonged guitar-led jams. "Karen Revisited" goes on a bit too long IMO, but "Rain On Tin" is a prime example of the joy of unpredictability, and may well be the best song here. Kim Gordon's punkish, riot-grrrrrl "Plastic Sun" is a short burst of adrenaline that provides some much-needed aggression late in the album. In contrast, Kim's closing, nine-minute epic "Sympathy For The Strawberry" is one of the most elegant songs I've heard lately, with a shimmering guitar freakout eventually giving way to her very pretty, almost childlike vocals.
As I've already noted, "Murray Street" isn't for everybody. This isn't pop, so if you tend to form an opinion on songs within a minute of the first time you hear them it may not be for you. However, I think one of the most compelling qualities of "Murray Street" is the way it forces you to *listen* to each song from beginning to end. I give this album a hearty recommendation to those who want to hear some rock with brains.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of their best., June 28, 2002
By 
Michael Scott "esperanca" (Nashville, Tennessee United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Murray Street (Audio CD)
Murray Street is right up there with Daydream Nation, Sister, and EVOL in terms of greatness. It is not as sprawling as Daydream Nation or their more recent albums, but it is essentially everything we have ever loved about Sonic Youth distilled into 45 minutes. Some of the most amazing moments of recent music appear in "The Empty Page," "Karen Revisted," "Radical Adults Lick Godhead Style," and "Plastic Sun," but really all of it is great. I especially love the gradually climax of "Karen Revisted", easily one of the best songs Lee Ranaldo has sung; you don't even know it's happening and then all of the sudden there's this explosion of sound.
The album is experimental but not pretentious, beautiful and thrilling, and it will be in your CD player for at least the next year. It is not as groundbreaking as Daydream Nation or their earlier albums, which makes just fall short of a classic for me; I'd give it 4.5 stars if I could. But, nonetheless, it is amazing.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best albums of the year, October 19, 2002
By 
"drumb" (milwaukee, wi United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Murray Street (Audio CD)
From the very first opening notes of "The Empty Page", Jim O'Rourke's presence is already noticeable with the shimmering guitars and smooth rhythm section highlighting Thurston's enchanting, childlike voice. With the addition of a fifth member, that member being gifted post-rock alum Jim O'Rourke, Sonic Youth have expanded their sound for their latest effort "Murray Street" and they feel looser and more alive than ever. Deemed the band's "classic rock record" by Thurston Moore himself, Murray Street is one of the best guitar albums to come along in a long time, with the band spotlighting everything from the dense metal esque riffage of "Radical Adults Lick Godhead Style" to the intricate, interlocking dual guitars on "Rain on Tin", reminiscent of Television's Marquee Moon or the King Crimson 80s incarnation. Opting for vibrant waves of melody over juxtaposed noise, some fans of Sonic Youth may be disappointed at the seeming accessibility of this album, but Murray Street, while more melodic than most previous SY outings, certainly doesn't lack any edge. Instead, the noise and melody are so deeply melded and perfectly fused that the album simply sounds almost too cohesive for how sonically powerful it really is. As part 2 of Sonic Youth's planned trilogy, Murray Street is set up in similar fashion to NYC Ghosts and Flowers containing an extended Ranaldo song as the centerpiece, just like the title track on the preceding album, that spotlights Lee Ranaldo's trademark strangely warm, deadpan vocal delivery. Although a perfect album in nearly every way, the one song that pulls this album down is Kim Gordon's aggressive rant: "Plastic Sun". Not to say that this song is bad and the album still precedes pretty unfettered even with it included, but "Plastic Sun" would fit much better on one of Sonic Youth's early EPs like "Confusion is Sex" sounding out of place in the much more developed atmosphere of Murray Street. However, Kim Gordon more than makes up for the less than perfect "Plastic Sun" with her tense, sinister album closer "Sympathy for the Strawberry". The combining of Sonic Youth's noise guru status and Jim O'Rourke's Post-Rock prowess works perfectly and the intense beauty and purity of the all the music presented on this album is enough to change one's perception of what good music really is. With most of the members of Sonic Youth going on, or in, their 40s, it is amazing that a band with such rapidly ageing members could make an album so full of life and vitality. One of the most uplifting and optimistic albums of the year, Murray Street is as detailed as it is catchy and without a doubt belongs in any and every good CD collection.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy Sonic Youth Listening, April 12, 2003
By 
"kweekway" (Edmond, OK United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Murray Street (Audio CD)
I was kind of skeptical about this CD when it came out. I mean, I LOVE SONIC YOUTH! Especially the 80's trilogy- Evol, Sister, and Daydream Nation. There 90's stuff is good too, but Sonic Youth in 2002? Come on, Kim Gordon is 50! They're practically on Social Security. I bought "Murray Street" anyway, not expecting much. After the first couple of minutes I was surprised by how beautiful and complex it was (like all SY albums) but also that it was really accessible. "The Empty Page" is fantastic, Thurston and Kim give a great vocal track. "Disconnection Notice" and "Rain on Tin" are reminiscient of Sister or Daydream Nation, or maybe "The Diamond Sea". Lots of people have said good things about "Karen Revisited", I thought it was okay, maybe I just need to listen to it a few times. "Radical Adults Lick Godhead Style"- what? This is the part about Sonic Youth that both fascinates me and terrifies me- they're so hip they're scary. But still good stuff. "Plastic Sun" is faster and more punk rock and "Sympathy for the Strawberry" is a great experimental rock closer. This album is fantastic, I'd rank it among the best of 2002 along with the Trail of Dead's "Source Tags & Codes" (Some call it Sonic Youth for kids) Murray Street is a fantastic album, at 45 minutes its not like the epic Daydream Nation but I think this is a great album, and really easy to listen to. I highly recommend it.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars classic rock, godhead style, June 30, 2002
By 
This review is from: Murray Street (Audio CD)
So here we have it finaly,the latest offering from the great elderstatesmen(and woman)of underground rock. As with most of the band's releases since there 80's heyday, Murray St. is sure to meet with mixed reviews within their fanbase. Assertaining the stregnths of thier new material depends on which side of the fence you're on. While this album has the potential to attract new listeners while appeasing their pop-savy followers, it can be frustrating for those hooked on the band's artier and more edgy sounds.
Upon initial listens I found myself tormented along those same party lines. I knew that there was a really good album somewhere within these songs yet I couldn't convince myself of it completely. "Why is this?" I wondered endlessly. "What am I missing here?"
I finally reached some closure when I came back to an interview in which Thurston Moore stated that what the band had now reached was some sort of classic rock stage. While this seemed preposterous to me( and I'm sure most other admirers of the band)when I first read it, it made sense after hearing the album.
Following the infamous hiest of thier one-of-a-kind sound equipment the bands ability to create dissonant,fuzzy soundscapes had been seriously hampered. They bravely marched on for a while attempting to recreate thier vintage musiscal niche, but with mixed results. With Murray St. the band (with the addition of musical guru Jim O'Rourke)have conscioulsy decided to reach a different kind of plateau in thier career.
The album is marked by its dramatic shift to melody and clean guitar tones. The three opening numbers show a fine-tuned craftmanship and gentleness unheard before. Beautiful uplifting melodies and precise, unabstracted guitar chord arrangements are Murray St.'s calling card. What it really all boils down to is that Sonic Youth have truely made the most mature, warm, and inviting album possibly of thier career.
It is these qualities of the album that posses all of the charm and wonder in the music. For a band of several forty something adults Sonic Youth are finally starting to show thier age, in a good way of course! Having veered up and down the musical map with thier avant-garde sounds and punk attitude to various degrees of sucess, band have now learned the ancient art of subtlety.
The most brilliant and pleasing moments on Murray St. are really the simplest and subtle ones. The crisp-sounding interplay in "Rain on Tin", the short but sweet guitar solo on "disonection notice" and most exceptionally the simple addition of sustain key organ chords to "sympathy for the strawberry." All of which in one way or another seem to have O'Rourke to thank. Instrumentally he dosent' make a huge splash, but allows things to gel as never before within the band, allowing them to "jam" in a very real sense as Thurston had pointed out in that same interview.
This cohesiveness and new-found sense of control over thier music is what makes Sonic Youths better moments so sweet on this disc. Unfortunately though the album is somehwat marred by its failure to follow through with its scope. The music really losses itself when the band tries to verge into familer territory. Murray St.'s most glarying pitfall can be found in Kim Gordon's "plastic sun" a song obvioulsy attempting to resurrect the noisy, attitude filled youth of old, but lacks the spine to do it. The same can be said of several other moments on the album where the band seems hellbent on going back in time.
Its unfortunate that the album hits these moments, yet it does. With thier more clean, mature sounding songs Sonic Youth have emerged reborn. The few moments on the other end of the spectrum hurt the album's flow but don't destory it. In the end the band have come up with a rewarding album of wonderful music. Yet its short tracklist and the few dud moments make this one just shy of being a classic. Nearly essential. Totally wortthwhile.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good comeback, though it is an acquired taste., July 25, 2004
This review is from: Murray Street (Audio CD)
I have always been a Sonic Youth fan ever since I was 15, but I never wanted to get any of their albums. That was until I heard samples off of Murray Street. I liked what I heard, and bought it a few weeks later. This album is definetly more song-orientated, but it's still quite instrumental too. New member Jim O'Rourke helps give more texture to the band's already limitless sound, and at times, there was a bit of Sunn sound to the album. (Karen Revisited's long ambient section comes to mind.) There are a few songs that are real sweet and happy, but there are some sad and melancholy songs too, such as Radical Adults Lick Godhead Style, and the sweet Sympathy for the Strawberry, which has a Sigur Ros ring to it. Of course, there is some free form guitar noodling as well, like on Rain On Tin and Karen Revisited, which is my favorite. A good album for starters, it shows Sonic Youth as a more structured band than the last few albums.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's raining selenium all over!, October 6, 2002
This review is from: Murray Street (Audio CD)
Wow! The Men and the Woman with the screwdrivers in their guitars have done it again. Another classic album from Sonic Youth and in my opinion it's their best outing since "Dirty". The addition of Jim O'Rourke on bass shifts Kim onto guitar creating a three pronged panzer axe attack, LOVE IT! There are many great things about "Murray Street" - the arrangements, intricate structures and melodies, killer distortion effects (without an over-use of guitar), and intelligent lyrics. There isn't a track on the LP I don't like, and even though the music isn't groundbreaking or Avant Garde in any sense, it is FAB!

The opening track "The Empty Page" launches you directly into Sonic Youths' world. "Disconnection Notice", with its moody background guitars and softly spoken vocals is an instant hit. The feedback towards the end of the track is fantastic. "Rain on Tin" (my favourite of the whole set) is yet another great guitar outing. It's even a bit 'Television' in places!!! The intricate way the guitars play against each other works well... The vocals are over within the first minute and then we're treated to a 7-minute instrumental... Nebulous! "Karen Revisited" is another fabulous track! The sublime lyrics and 8-minute 'experimental' outro are excellent. "Radical Adults lick Godhead style"??? With a title like that who cares what the music sounds like!! But it is yet another great track! "Plastic Sun" is an excellent short/snappy piece (although the music does sound a bit Fall/Pavement-ish). The finale "Sympathy for the Strawberry" is Cozmik!! Kim's vocals even sound a bit like Mo Tucker in the VU track "The Murder Mystery". Great Bass playing and hectic guitars in the intro, and the way it moves into the track is cool. This song certainly has a Velvets feel to it, awesome!!

This album's still on my play list after 4 months. It makes great listening on bus/train journeys (I do a lot of travelling). There are some real classics here and I will definitely be re-visiting "Murray Street" for years to come.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Music to Win Back a Jaded Fan, July 6, 2002
This review is from: Murray Street (Audio CD)
Faith No More is responsible for long ago providing me a comfy bridge between metal and 'alternative' music, leading me out of the abyss and introducing me to a wider world of music. Being thirsty for new sounds, I signed on to one of the Columbia House scams and ordered a bunch of CDs from their 'alternative' section. The only one that really stuck with me was Sonic Youth's Dirty. From that point on I was a huge Sonic Youth fan. I quickly bought up all their earlier albums and even learned how to tune my guitar to some of the strange settings that Thurston Moore and Lee Renaldo used. I stayed devoted to the band through Washing Maching, but quickly lost interest in all of their following material. Thousand Leaves and NYC Ghosts and Flowers just didn't do much for me, and their several experimental EPs on SYR were too experimental.
I had all but forgotten about Sonic Youth up until two weeks ago. I didn't even know they had a new album coming out. Then some reviews for Murray Street started rolling in, which told of a Sonic Youth that had regained much of what made them popular in the first place. Reviewers made bold claims about the band sounding better than they ever have and some even went so far as to compare the new album to the classic Daydream Nation album of 1988. I was intrigued, yet remained skeptical until I heard a couple songs on the local college radio station, songs that plucked the rusty and oddly-tuned guitar strings in my heart that hadn't been touched since 1995. With the old feelings overwhelming me, I went and bought Murray Street as soon as I could. The reviews were true. The comparisons were true. I was so happy to experience a truly great Sonic Youth album again after so many years that it nearly moved me to tears.
I wont get into any technical aspects, since those are usually boring, highly opinionated and best left to music critics, a class of people that I am glad to not fit in. But I will say the tempo is quite relaxed throughout the album. The weaving guitars of Moore, Renaldo and O'Rourke do for geeky audiophiles what Grateful Dead jams do for hippies. There are excellent melodies everywhere, even for the usually tuneless Kim Gordan, whose two songs are pushed to the tail end of the album, where they fit perfectly. There are no snags for me on this album. From start to finish it holds me in a trance and makes it hard for me to do anything else but listen, and then let out a satisfied sigh at the end right before I press 'play' again.
I'm sure there are plenty of people who have plenty of problems with this album that they wish to waste plenty of words describing, but consider this: If it can bring back a jaded fan and rekindle the magic, what more is there really to say? Just listen and enjoy, which is what it was made for in the first place.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Open wrapper and get surprised!, July 22, 2002
By 
JKS "Joe" (Monterey, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Murray Street (Audio CD)
Wow! I am always truly excited to hear a SY record for the first time because it never gives me much Deja Vu. Sure, I could compare it to Daydream Nation or EVOL and talk about how they will never sound like Dirty or Goo again because they are no longer the "big" alt rock band, but that doesn't matter. Each new album is a pleasant surprise, and this is an ever better one, with Jim O'Rourke finally credited as a 5th member. His production mixes Steve's drums better than any other SY album I've heard, which is saying a lot. Kim is free to do more guitar work, which is fantastic since it hasn't been so prominant since Washing Machine.
Onwards...
The album flows together so well that you can easily fall asleep to it, or take it to work, or just rock out to it. Very versatile indeed. The 9/11 references are subtle but firm, only explicit in the artwork (featuring a picture of a deserted building across the street from their Ground Zero studio). You feel a sense of melancholy that easily evolves into healing power, regardless of where you stand in the Amerikan mess.
The only flaw is that the version of the (classic) "Plastic Sun" on the album does not contain the witty Britney Spears jab that the version featured on a CD sampler given out by Jane magazine last year (which featured the same instrumental with different vocals).
A perfect album to listen to next to Goodbye 20th Century, if only to fully realize the versatility and genious of this group.
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Murray Street
Murray Street by Sonic Youth (Audio CD - 2002)
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