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on December 6, 2005
Sonic Youth is one of the more influential and revered bands of the last 20 years. They are rightfully known as the Godfathers of Indie Rock. I can think of no other band that has been consistently putting out quality music for as long as Sonic Youth. Some bands manage to string together 2 or 3 good albums, but then tend to fade into obscurity, break-up, or start to suck. Amazingly, Sonic Youth have yet to succumb to any of those fates. They have had the occasional slump (the mid-to-late 90's), yet they are still here- producing worthwhile, quality albums. In my mind, their creative peak was the late 80's; when they put out the amazing trilogy of `Evol', `Sister', and `Daydream Nation'. I love this band and own every single one of their albums. That being said, `Sister' is my favorite.

`Sister' was initially released on SST records in 1987, and in my mind stands as the quintessential Sonic Youth release. There is a mythic, mystical undercurrent pulling the listener thru this delicious album. It is hard to quantify and explain. The guitar interplay of Thurston and Lee is something special- at times beautifully melodic, dissonant, violent, loving, and ethereal. These songs really speak to me.

This awesome work open with `Schizophrenia' (you really need to hear this song live sometime). I like how both Kim and Thurston share vocals on this track- something they should do more often, which they do in fact numerous times on `Sister'. Lyrically this is one of Sonic Youth's finest efforts, which should be no surprise to anyone when they realize that the Youth were heavily into Philip K. Dick at the time this album was written. Feelings of insanity, isolation, loneliness, chaos, and love pervade `Sister'- for these were all themes with which Dick was intimately familiar. A number of Sonic Youth's best tracks appear on this album. `Stereo Sanctity' is dissonant, delirious, and wonderful. This is followed by the reflective and mysterious `Pipeline/ Kill Time', which makes use of Lee's poetic lyrics, rolling drums, and incredible feedback control. After this amazing track comes `Tuff Gnarl', which ends with a devastating and divinely dissonant guitar frenzy. Maintaining the momentum, next up is `Pacific Coast Highway', one of Kim Gordon's best tracks- she sounds genuinely scary at the outset, which serves as a perfect lead-in to more guitar beauty. This stretch here- tracks 4 through 7, marks one of the best I have heard on ANY album.

`Cotton Crown' follows `Hot Wire My Heart' (which I could've done without). `Cotton Crown' is the closest thing Sonic Youth has to a love song, but don't let that deter you- I HATE love songs. The instrumental section in the middle of this song is a thing of beauty and power. Dissonant guitars have never sounded so soothing (with the exception of My Bloody Valentine's Loveless). `White Cross' follows this gem, ending the album on a rocking note. `Master-Dik' actually ends this version of `Sister' (I don't think it was on the original SST version). `Master-Dik' is a VERY tongue-in-cheek Sonic Youth take on Hip Hop, complete with lots of distorted guitars and even a KISS sample.

If you are only familiar with recent Sonic Youth, and you find yourself wishing they would rock out more, than you need this album. This is probably the Youth's most rocking album. The guitar is blistering throughout. And all though it is blistering, distorted, and dissonant; it is highly soothing and quite trance inducing at times. The guitar interplay here paved the way for the amazing sonics exhibited on their next album, the undisputed masterpiece- `Daydream Nation'.

The song writing on `Sister' is some of their best- cosmically poetic and mystically enchanting. This, in conjunction with the otherworldly music make for a fascinating listen. If you like Sonic Youth, but have yet to get this album, you must do so immediately. If you are only familiar with major label Youth (post-Goo), then you must IMMEDIATELY get this incredible album. And finally, if you are curious about Sonic Youth, but have yet to delve into their daunting catalogue, this might not be the best place to start. `Goo' & `Daydream Nation' might be better jumping off points. However, if you are musically adventurous, a guitarist, or a fan of interesting rock, you will most likely love this wonderfully dissonant work. After many years, and hundreds upon hundreds of CD's and vinyl albums, `Sister' remains one of my favorites.
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on May 13, 2004
i think this is actually a BETTER introduction than Daydream Nation. it's more concice of an album (1/2 of the running time of DN) and just as adventerous. the first song alone contains more mind-bending guitar effects than most bands touch on in an album, or most guitarists can even play. this was alternative back when the word was understood to mean something. unflinching and uncompromising, one of the touchstone albums of the 80's. influential on a good many bands. when you hear this you feel a real sense of inspiration and empowerment. Daydream Nation is probably more brilliant, but more of a chore for just one sitting. this is the best Sonic Youth album to cut your teeth on. then be prepared, Daydream Nation is their peak. (though this is still my favorite!)
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on February 12, 2005
I first heard about this album when I read a dated New Music Express review in Windhoek, Namibia in late 1988. Having been in the bowels of Africa since 1986, I had never heard of SY. I picked up a cassette of "Sister" on my way back to the USA in '89 via London. The songs schizophrenia, tuff gnarl and PCH blew me away.... visceral music that just went to my center. I listen to these songs 20 years on and they still get under my skin. That, in itself, says a lot.
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on October 10, 2005
One thing i love about Sonic Youth is how successfully they can polorize people. People can just outright hate their music and write it off forever, and, adversely, people can love their music and be totally put off by some other wilder stuff just as someone can be put off by some of their commercail stuff. This is the album that highlights the fact that this was the golden age of Sonic Youth. The 80's spawned 5 flawless albums from the band, culminating with Daydream Nation.

Sister is one of my rotating SY favorites (Daybream, BMR, Evol and Goo are all there as is the horror captured within Confusion is Sex) and is the Sonic Youth album that people should hear first (along with Daydream Natio). It conveys the sound of EVOL, which is the band realizing that they can find the gray area of their choatic, destroy everything side and their softer, beat poetry love sound, into one cohesive whole. The songs on Sister speak for themselves, on one hand, with noticable SY classics such as Schizophrenia, Catholic Block (an awesome one-two punch that kickstarts the album), Stereo Sanctity, PCH, and Kotton Krown. But one the other hand, certain tracks grown on you beautifully like the awesome cover of Hot Wire My Heart and my personal favorite track of the album, Master-Dik.

The albums nuances show themselves in the little details. I'm a huge fan of Phillip K. Dick and the lyrics of this album are wonderfully inspired by him (my favorite example: "I can't get laid 'cuz everyone is dead" on Stereo Sanctity). SY are known just as much for their loudmouthed praising of avant garde geniouses like Dick, as well as artists like Raymond Pettibon and movements like the No-wave scene and the SST scene (which helped them get on the label), as much as for their music itself. Other little nuggets of enjoyment include the much imporved but totally underrated presence of drummer Steve Shelley (as with EVOL) who gave them a beastly propulsion that they just couldnt achieve with the tribal thumps of Bob Bert, as well as Lee Ranoldo's number Pipeline/Kill time with his usual spewing of high velocity beat poety, which some seem to detest. The music contained within this record shows its head and changes its face each time you listen to it, evn though its one of the more straight forward albums SY have ever done.

As their 80's stuff gets unanymous praise from all SY fans, their 90's stuff is greatly controvercial. While i feel albums like Goo and Dirty rank up there with the best of Sonik Tooth, some people seem to hate them, as well as Washing Machine (which i do like) and everything after. I do agree with most of those sentiments and find most of it uninspired and boring, with flashes of their former brilliance (Sonic Nurse returned the aging hipsters to their former glory though and is one of their best). But with all that controversy and weird, nerdy arguments, we can all come together and worship their peak with Sister. A classic and highly recommended.
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on December 7, 2004
"Sister", as someone else previously mentioned, is comprehensive. It combines the group's signature elements from their noise/spoken word roots with punk, garage rock, or whatever you like to call it. This is definitely the place to start with SY's 80's repertoire; unlike Daydream Nation (certainly a monster itself) this record is concise. I recommend this album to SY noobs and neophytes alike. This album rocks from start to finish!
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on July 5, 2007
WHen someone tells me they never saw the big deal with Sonic Youth I always throw on Sister. Yeah, I know Daydream is great but I always thought this was their masterpiece. It put both their musicianship and recording prowess together in one disk.

Sister was recorded on old tube boards and you can really tell by the soft tones and warm fuzz. Feels like a wish coming true.
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on August 29, 2005
Sister is one of the best go-between albums in the SY catalog. Like Washing Machine, Goo, and the SYR EP's, this album is a collection of excellent experimental rock that is not only a snapshot of the band's carreer at that time; it is also a transitional record that documents the period between EVOL and the formation of Daydream Nation. "Sister" is, to some extent, a concept album, like every other in the SY catalog. However, one of its greatest strengths lies in breaking out of this mold. It showcases gut-wrenching rock music, conceptual art pieces that slash and buzz and drone like an embryonic Daydream Nation, or a spacier Goo. It manages to encompass art and rock without sacrificing either. Rockers like "Stereo Sanctity" and "Tuff Gnarl" contain propulsive rock rhythms that secretly house eviscerating sonics; likewise, the Kim song "Beauty Lies" has an atmospheric swirl nudged along by modest beats. Sister's greatest moments come in intense moments of passion where anything can happen. Surprise is its greatest weapon. While listening, you'll hear a drum break out of nowhere, a full-stop that screams into a swirl of noise, a drop-out that pushes a feverish improv to the forefront. These are the moments of sonic paradise. Savor them well.
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on August 8, 2007
The guy from "Sad Young Man On a Train," an incredible band, worked at Olsson's Records in Alexandria (VA) when this came out, and recommended it to me wholeheartedly. Probably the best recommendation I ever had, an absolutely incredible, unique album (and I got the huge "human size +" Sister poster too!).

I went back to Olsson's a year later and asked the guy about "Daydream Nation," and he said, shaking his head, "They've sold out."!! I don't agree with that, but to me Daydream Nation is a little more "mainstream," and the following LPs "Goo," "Dirty" and etc. are worth listening to, but I don't feel the need to hold on to them. "Sister" to me was Sonic Youth's peak.
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on January 2, 2005
When I bought this album. It was 1988. Like Buckley, one of the reviewers below, I find this to still be one of my favorite albums. I guess some of this happens to do with my love for Philip Dick's quasi-science fiction. I remember when Spin magazine (back when it didn't suck) did an interview with Sonic Youth around Christmas-time in 1987-88 and they talked about Dick's influence on their lyrical style, specifically on Sister. Sister seems a concept album to me, always a good one to turn to when you feel nihilism or a slight twinge of madness/worshiping of false idols coming on. This was the Spin Interview, I think, when Thurston Moore said that when he was a teenager, and people wanted to go see Led Zeppelin, he'd say: "**** Led Zep, let's go see the Ramones!" This has always stuck with me as being one of the great punk rock comments of all time, and sum up the sheer coolness factor of Sonic Youth.
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on September 9, 2003
This album is the second installment in Sonic Youth's 'trilogy' and manages to be even stronger than Evol.
The album starts off with the great Schizophrenia, which is definately one of the best opening songs on any album. The song is incredibly catchy and never loses its vibe or energy.
The one-two punch of this album is really something, as Catholic Block starts off. This is easily one's of SY's most melodic and catchy songs of their year.
Beauty Lies In The Eye is one of Kim Gordon's better songs, and is really quite a depressing song. She delivers the lyrics well in whispers.
Stereo Sanctity is a truly great song, simply for it's melody and amazing bass lines, they just work perfectly with all the noise going around it. This is easily one of my favorite
demonstrations of catchy bass guitar in a song.
Tuff Gnarl is a perfect example of SY's obvious tendencies to fool with the listener. THe song starts off kind of poppy and light but then just breaks out into one huge noise jam-fest. Both halves of the song are equally excellent.
Pacific Coast Highway is a collaboration with vocals between Gordon and Moore and is really a nice addition, this is something that was devoid in Evol. PCH resembles Tuff Gnarl in the soft to jam-fest category except its not as radical.
Next up is Sonic Youth's cover of Hotwire My Heart which manages to be as good as the original, although radically different.
Kotton Krown is just catchy, to put bluntly.
Master Dik is almost Sonic Youth's only rap-rock song. It's also one big jam. It's pretty good, but I don't think it manages to stand up against with some of the other songs.
Sonic Youth again manage to create another classic album, that is near flawless. I'd say this is a bit more easier to get into than Evol but I'd recommend something like Goo to the new listener..
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