Sonic Youth – Daydream Nation: #426 of best 1,000 albums ever!

Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation

So why is Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation on this best 1,000 albums ever thing?

Sonic Youth is a band that I struggle with. The fact that I actively struggle with understanding their music – and honestly with how much I like it or not at times – proves that I’m motivated to want to get them.

And then I’ll have an epiphany where I’m like, “I get it!”

Perhaps a little bit like Tony Soprano after taking mescaline and going on a gambling binge in Las Vegas, finally shouting his seeming (and, importantly, fleeting) understanding of the Universe and Meaning and The Cosmos into the Nevada desert dawn. Until reality and the Blue Comet – and maybe even the guy in the Members Only jacket – hits, at any rate.

And sometimes I’ll even go through that journey even in the course of listening to a single song. Like with “Teen Age Riot,” for example. I’m impatient during its beginning, at least a bit. The opening notes remind me of easing into an episode of Friday Night Lights, of all things.

I’m impatient, but then suddenly I’m not. I’ve eased in, I’ve acclimated to the temperature and frequency. And then it’s good. It’s really good.

I think I’ve realized over time that Sonic Youth doesn’t conform to what I’m expecting, but it doesn’t conform to what I’m expecting in a good way, which puts it in that most rare of places for me when it comes to music.

Midway through “Teen Age Riot” it’s dreamy and rocking and slightly dissonant (but in a good way), and then when I reach the end of its nearly seven-minute run time, I don’t want it to end.

I want it to keep going.

Then there are songs like “Silver Rocket,” my favorite song on Daydream Nation, that are easier to grasp – at least for me. It’s got a killer hook that feels like by itself helps to set the course in some small way for all that would happen in the coming alterative rock movement. Of course, there’s that screechy noise rock section about two minutes in, but with Sonic Youth sometimes that’s the price of a great song. I can pay it.

It’s incredible how on “The Sprawl,” the third song, the lead vocal duties are turned over from Thurston Moore to Kim Gordon, and the effect – when combined with the song’s driving riff – is immediately pleasing, even soothing. Then, of course, mid-way through “The Sprawl” it gets stranger, more discordant. But that’s Sonic Youth for you. Or by you I mean me.

Daydream Nation has a “Trilogy” on it that comprises three parts, which makes sense, the total of which runs for just over 14 minutes. It has some incredible parts and then other parts that would probably take me at least as long as this piece is to start to unpack my feelings about.

The third part of “Trilogy” is called “Eliminator Jr.,” and I mention it because the opening, distorted guitar riff reminds me much of Brother Meat, my favorite college rock band (from Ithaca, New York) back in the day.

Some stats & info about Sonic Youth – Daydream Nation

  • What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Rock Music, Alternative Rock, Experimental Rock, Indie Rock, Noise Rock, College Rock, Indie Rock
  • Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – #171
  • All Music’s rating – 5 out of 5 stars
  • When was Daydream Nation released? 1988
  • My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #426 out of 1,000

Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation on Spotify

A lyrical snippet from Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation that’s evocative of the album in some way, maybe

Can’t forget the flashing, can’t forget the smashing, the sending and the bending, the atmosphere re-entry.

What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?

Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.

But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.