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Sonic Youth - The Destroyed Room: B-Sides and Rarities Review

by Jeff Krause

When releasing a b-sides and rarities album, its success among its fan base often rests in how much of the band is laid bare, and how much of the not-heard-everyday we as fans are exposed to, as opposed to the often polished, produced and labored over final product that most releases entail. I've always been a fan of the stripped down; the material most bands wouldn't dare allow their fans to hear. Give a band a 4-track and a reel-to-reel, and chances are you will hear some of the most amazing music come from the simplistic approach. It's no surprise, then, that on The Destroyed Room, New York's noise/chaos/alt. rock quintet went this very route in offering what is, while not for the faint of heart, probably one of the most beautiful albums to come out of 2006.

It is no surprise to hear some of the randomness of The Destroyed Room, as well as many tracks that, truth be told, only true fans of the band can probably stomach. After releasing Rather Ripped earlier in the year, to mixed reviews and the chagrin of some who said SY became too melodic, too verse-chorus-verse, ie-too mainstream, SY reminds fans of what they are good at. While at times it might seem overbearing, at others it feels a bit over the top, what lies within these 11 tracks are an SY goldmine. Seldom other places, except for perhaps in a live setting, will you hear an opening track that runs a marathon 10 minutes, seems completely disheveled, and yet makes perfect sense. That's exactly what SY has done. Strewn throughout the release are tracks for the benefit of movie soundtracks ("Blink"), studio jam session free-for-all's ("Kim's Chords", and Beautiful Plateau"), and outright session songs that just didn't make the final cut originally ("Fauxhemians", "Loop Cat").

All in all, this is a brilliant piece if you have been a SY fan at any point over their 25 year career. However, this release is not for the faint of heart, so new listeners might instead look to some of their previous releases like "Rather Ripped", "Dirty", or perhaps, "Daydream Nation". For the rest of us, this is just the dose of SY to keep us going.

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