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Rather Ripped

58 customer reviews

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Audio CD, June 13, 2006
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

2005 had SY revisiting awesome Japan, touring the boroughs of New York, rollicking at the first Arthurfest in L.A., and releasing the special deluxe edition of 'GOO.' After one final gnarl out in Brazil with Flaming Lips, The Stooges and others Mr.Jim O'Rourke decided to concentrate full-time on his Japanese studies of language and film and SY was subsequently back to it's OG nucleus of Kim-Thurston-Lee-Steve. Songs were written, Jim recommended engineer TJ Doherty and J Mascis (Dinosaur Jr) recommended mix engineer John Agnello and SY created the oddly titled 'Rather Ripped.' The whole deal was recorded in the waning hours of 2005 into the dawn sunshine of 2006 at the venerable Sear Sound studios in NYC's fading theatre district. Partially mixed there and at Hoboken, NJ's Water Music by the golden juice ear of John Agnello it exhibits SY in positive vibration mode. 12 songs of forward motion and harmonic/melodic surprise. Vocals shared by the frontline of Thurston, Kim and Lee with Steve groove gluing the rhythms into rock n roll infection. They bust out o' the sonic barn with Incinerate and Reena then contemplate holy war mind games with Do You Believe in Rapture? and keep cruising strong with track after track of risk-laden rock jammers until floating out with the curious Or. This is a straight-up Sonic Youth field on fire, with a compact potency of rock n roll enlightenment. Rather ripped, indeed.

It's been almost a quarter century since a youthful, avant-garde band with cut-rate guitars and an impetus for experimental noise burst into the New York underground, and it's very possible that as its 21st record to date, Rather Ripped is also Sonic Youth's most accessible. Familiar are Kim Gordon's distinctive oral tonality and the tangled sheen of guitar dissonance that plays out between Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo. But a majority of the dozen songs are as pop-smart as they come, including a pair from Gordon: "Reena," which ranks among her finest, and a pensive pair ("Lights Out" and "Turquoise Boy") that have the 50-plus singer's ethereal voice recalling a street-worn Francoise Hardy. Ever the whiz kid, Moore ponders religious hostility in the meditative "Do You Believe in Rapture" and skewers promiscuity on the Lou Reed-ish "Sleepin' Around," while Ranaldo's requisite number "Rats"--all futuristic and feedback-heavy--is among his best compositions. As the record fades out with Moore's near-folk song "Or"--the alternative conjunction linking "ready" and "not"--Sonic Youth is as genial as ever: another phase in a punk rock novel that ostensibly has many chapters to go. --Scott Holter

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
  1. Reena 3:47$1.29  Buy MP3 
  2. Incinerate 4:55$1.29  Buy MP3 
  3. Do You Believe In Rapture? 3:11$1.29  Buy MP3 
  4. Sleepin' Around 3:42$1.29  Buy MP3 
  5. What A Waste 3:33$1.29  Buy MP3 
  6. Jams Runs Free 3:51$1.29  Buy MP3 
  7. Rats 4:24$1.29  Buy MP3 
  8. Turquoise Boy 6:13$1.29  Buy MP3 
  9. Lights Out 3:32$1.29  Buy MP3 
10. The Neutral 4:09$1.29  Buy MP3 
11. Pink Steam 6:57$1.29  Buy MP3 
12. Or 3:31$1.29  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 13, 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Geffen
  • ASIN: B000FII31U
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,652 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Scott Bresinger on June 13, 2006
Format: Audio CD
...That's what famed British DJ John Peel would often say about his favorite band, the Fall, and he meant it as a compliment. Despite their many personel changes, the Fall always remained the same--which to Peel meant brilliant. Sonic Youth, who haven't had a signifigant personel change in twenty years (Jim O'Rourke, who joined the band a couple of albums ago, recently parted amicably to persue a film music career), have instead been changing their sound. This has evolved naturally, over the course of their career, as longtime fans can attest. For "Rather Ripped," they've created a permutation even stranger than the experimental noise projects for their SYR label. This is--gasp!--kind of a pop album, with melodies and everything, and even more shocking, it's relatively noise free! Still, it's undeniably a Sonic Youth album, the same way "The Straight Story" was still undeniably a David Lynch movie. Their guitars still chime and hum like you'd expect, even if they only occasionally go "boom." Kim Gordon actually seems to sing here--in tune, no less!--but it's the same Kool Kim we've come to love, not some lame American Idol wannabe. Most of the songs clock in under 5 minutes, and guess what, most of them are memorable. Strangely enough, the weakest song here, "Sleepin' Around," is also one of the noisiest. Nevertheless, with Sonic Youth's trademark odd guitar tunings and well-honed interplay, these are pop songs unlike any you'll hear this year. "Rather Ripped" is psych-pop that even the Flaming Lips couldn't pull off. SY's feet are still on the ground, but the guitars are in the stratosphere. There are moments of such sheer beauty that angels will be screaming in your head for a long time to come.Read more ›
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful By William Merrill VINE VOICE on June 13, 2006
Format: Audio CD
This is Sonic Youth's most accessible and listener-friendly CD in quite awhile, but I think the hardcore SY fans will still like it. In the past I was able to appreciate their occasional shrieking experimental noise pieces from an abstract art perspective, but that didn't make for music that I went back to for repeat listenings. On the Ripped CD, the noise and distortion are more directly in service of the melodies, and some excellent melodies there are indeed. I'm particularly impressed with "Turquoise Boy," which features an ethereal vocal from Kim (she and Thurston are as ultra-cool and laid-back as ever on the new songs) and a superb balance between chaos and control. I also like the spooky Doors-ish feel of "Rats," and just about all the other songs are great too. The whole album just has a combination of factors that make it one of the best SY discs ever. (The "fake bootleg" cover art is pretty bad, though.)
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By T. Brown on June 19, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Cementing their spot as perhaps the most important band of the last 25 years, "Rather Ripped" is, on its surface, a stripped down, subtler, mellower and more mature Sonic Youth. That all may be true, but there's another world that rumbles below that surface, making this their most consistent and arguably most exciting work since "Dirty".

From the opening chords of "Reena" you know this ain't gonna be no "NYC Ghosts & Flowers" - straight ahead intelli-rock with that unparalleled SY edge. But wait there's more! Kim sings on key (no disrespect intended), as she does with every song on this gem! As always, Steve Shelley shows why he's the one of the finest (if not most underrated) drummers in rock history.

"Incinerate" picks up where Thurston left off with his brilliant "Dripping Dream" from "Sonic Nurse". Very simply a superb song by a superb songwriter performed by the greatest band on Earth. "...Rapture?" follows, leaving listeners wanting more, and finding more with subsequent plays.

"Sleepin' Around" and "Lights Out" are admittedly not quite up to par with the rest of the album, but they're still interesting tracks that invite serious exploration.

And contrary to prior reviews, I say turn up the volume for "What a Waste", a nifty little pop-punk blast that roars at you like Kim's utterly fantastic "Mariah Carey and the Arthur Doyle Hand Cream" from "Sonic Nurse".

"Jams Run Free" is Kim at her best, breathless and enchanting, while Lee and Thurston create yet another beautiful, albeit minimalist soundscape. Then the signature SY "jam" starts and it's "hang on to your hats" time again. Then again, "Turquoise Boy" may be even better...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By DanVta on January 17, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Hands down, I'm a huge SY fan, but not an uncritical one, so when they started getting into some of their more overtly avant garde material in the late 90's they kinda lost me. I respect what they were doing, but just couldn't listen to a whole CD the way I could with so many of their other albums (Sister, Daydream Nation, and Goo being my favorites). So when Rather Ripped came out I approached cautiously, and was pleasantly surprised. This album seems to come full circle for them, returning to their art-punk roots, but with the sensibility, creativity, and maturity of a band that has been rocking for nearly a quarter century. It is definitely more toned down than some of their work in the 80's, but hits on some great grooves. Nearly every song on the album is solid, with standouts for me being Pink Steam (an eerie jam with with Moore on vocals), Rats (a classic Ranaldo song with a great funky bass line) and Turquoise Boy (a dream-like quality dominates this song a la Diamond Sea). For me, this is their best album as a whole since Goo. It incorporates some of their most successful trademark sounds, without repeating themselves. Do yourself a favor and get this album. You won't be disappointed
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Topic From this Discussion
This album rocks!!!!!!
seriously? thanks. how do you compare it with last album sonic nurse?
Jun 13, 2006 by George K |  See all 4 posts
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