WOWEE ZOWEE (46)
November 14, 2018
One in a series of enthusiastic posts, contributed by HILOBROW friends and regulars, on the subject of our favorite albums of the Nineties (1994–2003). A new installment in this series will appear each Wednesday during 2018.
WASHING MACHINE | SONIC YOUTH | 1995
I was twelve when I found it — a cassette tape with two guys in blue t-shirts badly cropped on the cover. They were photographed with a flash, like something from a disposable camera. Sonic Youth Washing Machine, the band name and title thinly identified on the spine. I didn’t really know what graphic design was at that point, but some of my own origin story must have to do with that album art.
At that age, in 1995, I had no idea who Sonic Youth were, but the name of the band sounded cool. I was starting to read SPIN magazine. I haunted the AOL SPIN message boards, creeping posts by actual SY fans. Reading all of that as a teen indicated to me that be a fan of them meant you had a line on some sort of effortless cool. You didn’t even have to try, you just were.
When I put the cassette into the player I didn’t realize I was starting on Side B, so my experience didn’t begin with Kim’s plaintive whirlpool of “Becuz,” it began with Thurston’s temper tantrum of “No Queen Blues.” It was so noisy, crunchy and abrasive, but I was hooked. I listened to the whole tape, in the wrong order, and I loved it.
Little did my teenage brain realize that Sonic Youth had been a band before I was even born. I had a lot of catching up to do – listening to the older records, cracking open a whole world of other musicians and bands, clothing collaborations, artists whose work was repurposed by the band as album art. Sonic Youth rocketed me into an infinite galaxy of cool, and I wanted to float through it forever.
When Kim & Thurston broke up in 2011, effectively ending any new work by the band, I was devastated. It was like my own parents broke up, given the amount of texts and calls I received and how I felt. Their relationship is no one’s business, particularly mine, but I found them so aspirational – the band! The art! The creative partnership!
Now as an adult, years out from the first notes of “No Queen Blues,” I get it. They’re human. Galaxies split off into their own worlds, sometimes. Cool doesn’t make you immune to the human condition, it’s just something you can put on like an old cassette.
WOWEE ZOWEE: Stephanie Burt on UNISEX | Anindita Basu Sempere on UNDER THE PINK | Mark Kingwell on DUMMY | Bill Nericcio on AMOR PROHIBIDO | Sherri Wasserman on HIPS AND MAKERS | Mimi Lipson on THANK YOU | John Overholt on BEN FOLDS FIVE | Jordan Ellenberg on GET LOST | Chelsey Johnson on PERSONAL BEST | Marilyn Snell on MAXINQUAYE | Dan Fox on DIFFERENT CLASS | Devin McKinney on IF YOU’RE FEELING SINISTER | Alice Boone on MTV UNPLUGGED (ALICE IN CHAINS) | Rob Wringham on SPICE | Joe Alterio on BEATS, RHYMES AND LIFE | Jason Loeffler on SECOND TOUGHEST IN THE INFANTS | Rick Pinchera on EITHER/OR | Josh Glenn on THE LONESOME CROWDED WEST | Jennifer Krasinski on SUPA DUPA FLY | Sara Ryan on DIG ME OUT | Luc Sante on MEZZANINE | Molly Wright Steenson on I CAN HEAR THE HEART BEATING AS ONE | Franklin Bruno on ENGLAND MADE ME | Michael Campochiaro on IS THIS DESIRE? | Adrienne Crew on CALIFORNICATION | Drew Daniel on I SEE A DARKNESS | Veda Hille on THE SOFT BULLETIN | Vanessa Berry on TEENAGE SNUFF FILM | Tom Kipp on GET SKINTIGHT | David Hirmes on DOPETHRONE | John Hilgart on YORK BLVD. | Deborah Wassertzug on JOURNEY TO THE END OF THE NIGHT | Adam McGovern on INVINCIBLE SUMMER | Brian Berger on TIRED SOUNDS OF… | Michael Grasso on MUSIC HAS THE RIGHT TO CHILDREN | Jen Collins on HURRAH | Flourish Klink on THE TEACHES OF PEACHES | Judith Zissman on TALLAHASSEE | Lauren Oliver on SOUND-DUST | Jason Cohen on IS THIS IT | Matthew De Abaitua on THE RAINBOW CHILDREN | Jenny Davidson on TIME (THE REVELATOR) | Crystal Durant on LIVE THROUGH THIS | Gordon Dahlquist on GARBAGE | Erin M. Routson on WASHING MACHINE | Carl Wilson on TEMPTING | Jessamyn West on ALL HAIL WEST TEXAS | Kaleb Horton on STREETCORE | Tom Nealon on BAZOOKA TOOTH | Erik Davis on DOPESMOKER | David Levine on FEVER TO TELL | Deb Chachra on MASS ROMANTIC.
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