Never Heard of 'Em: Sonic Youth


did the guitar riff sound familiar because it's "i wanna be your dog" by the stooges?
Sonic Youth are important to many people, including myself, for doing exactly what you describe here - awakening strange new feelings that can start you down the path to appreciating "weirder" musics. Mazel tov!
Happy to see this column back, Anna! :)

Sonic Youth is in my library, but I usually skip to the next song. Apparently my youthful angst has mellowed out.
"I quickly realized that these songs sound like the soundtrack to a fever dream, as I kept having weirdly vivid instant associations with the songs. It's like the score of a lo-fi late-'80s/early-'90s horror movie with a child protagonist."

I think Greil Marcus writes about CiS being creepy songs sung by kids (or something to that extent) in the 90's Geffen reissue.
It's all Grant's fault!
@1: You are asking a person who has never heard Sonic Youth about the Stooges. You may as well be asking Mitt Romney about SpaceGhostPurrp.
I'm glad you liked the album but whoever is picking these for you is being especially cruel. Just about every single Sonic Youth record is a better introduction than Confusion is Sex.
Reading your column kind of makes me not hate the idea of having children. (you're the child). good stuff!
I once read that Sonic Youth was specifically using certain tunings that were considered in medieval Europe to be evil, possibly that Lee Renaldo actually went to music school, and of course the godfather of this type of guitar noise Glenn Branca would know these tunings. The singer for "Big Black" said that Sonic Youth essentially lost their edge and became a tongue-in-cheek humor rock band. This is their early non-humorous rock. "I dreamed a Dream" and "The Burning Spear" are two other good songs from Sonic Youth not on this album. Strangely I listen mostly to ambient music or weird newwave music now like Zero Zero Glasherz:…
Confusion is Sex isn't exactly the quintessential Sonic Youth record. I'm guessing even a lot of die-hard fans don't even own it—or care to. Couldn't ya at least have flowed her a copy of Sister or Daydream Nation?

I do love this column.
@5 it was me this time
I call bullshit...EVERYONE has heard a a Sonic Youth song
Well Julie, maybe you should read before you comment:

The title of this column isn't technically true here—I have heard the name Sonic Youth before (I had the rock under which I have been living drilled with air holes a few years ago), but I've never listened to them on purpose.

Sorry..can't read.
P.S. This column was cute w/ it's just stupid
You have become very negative.
Do another sonic youth album. something to contrast the insanity of confusion. something more melodic like a thousand leaves or washing machine or you pick.
No..just toss her something actually considered obscure to a non music lover. 13th Floor Elevators, maybe..or Landspeed Record.
make her listen to kylie minoise
Ditto, it's unfortunate that this was her first exposure to SY. This is one of their earlier pieces, much easier on the ears:…
sonic youth shared this shit on their facebook page. weird. a pulitzer and now sonic youth recognition cred? the stranger's moving up in this world!
I started Sonic Youth with Washing Machine, hearing them play what I consider the best live version of the Diamond Sea live on tv, and I then bought my first SY cd: Bad Moon Rising. I had a rough start with that one, but some songs grew on me (Halloween, Flower, the obvious Death Valley '69). From there I bought Washing Machine (with a bonus 4 track live cd) and worked my way up: EVOL, Sister, Daydream Nation, Goo, Dirty, EJSTNS (and at some point Confusion + Kill Yr Idols and even Made in USA and Screaming Fields of Sonic Love while on a school trip in Greece) at which point I had caught up with them, and bought the albums since. I'm glad I heard Diamond Sea first, maybe hearing She's in a bad mood first wouldn't have sparked as much enthusiasm as it did.
I am a music nerd and I have to say that all of the albums thus far given to Anna are really challenging, even for a music lover. I look back on my history with music and I definitely had a foundation of knowledge before I could appreciate something like Confusion is Sex (and I think of it as a lesser work in the Sonic Youth cannon, so really puzzling to me why this was picked.) I think it's awesome that Anna dug this album, so early in the process.

I would suggest changing it up and giving her some Flying Burrito Brothers or Sketches of Spain. Or if you continue down this path, go for the gold and unleash some Meshuggah.
@21: I have a feeling the whichever unpaid intern that runs Sonic Youth's FB page will re-post anything inflammatory about Sonic Youth leading fans to defend them and thus try to recall why they liked them in the first place. The any news is good news department.

The next "Never Heard Of 'Em" should obviously be Merzbow's '1930'. The series could then be retitled "Never Made It All The Way Through" or "Never Hear Again".
@24: Jesus, why subject ANYONE to Merzbow? It's just cruel.
Why not bust out some Cosmic Psychos or The Meanies, or get really freaky and bust out Mr Bungles first album or even Disco Volante.
@15: DId you like any of the earlier "Never Heard of 'Ems"? Or did you only like the one?
@27 Only saw these 2
@25 I love Merzbow. and Boris. the dissonance is...i don't know, provocative?
@10 This was always my favorite album from Sonic Youth. I bought it when I was 14 years old or so. Let's hear another song from Sonic Youth that is gut:…
just, please, no rap
Maybe do never heard of some old Wolfgang Press or The Pop Group.…
By far, the worst column the Stranger has ever published and that's saying something.
They say if you can reach just one person...
Confusion was my intro to SY. I think it gives you a great idea of what they are fringe to do in later albums. I got this when I was 16 and only played it once in a while because it freaked me out. You should listen to Bad Moon Rising next. Probably their last "scary" album. Then of course their best, Sister. But who knows, you might find those totally boring :)
@35 Yes, Brave Men Run hits some high notes from Bad Moon Rising. They are really Beatniks. Allen Ginsburg liked them.