Reviews REWIND

REWIND: Post-Punk Band Sonic Youth ‘Walls Have Ears’

  • February 18, 2024
  • 3 min read
REWIND: Post-Punk Band Sonic Youth ‘Walls Have Ears’
Sonic youth, walls have ears, post-punk, shadow of a doubt

Sonic Youth’s Walls Have Ears is a fascinating dive into the band’s early experimental ethos, capturing a raw and unfiltered moment in their storied career. Recorded live in 1985, this album serves as a sonic snapshot, encapsulating the band’s live energy and their exploration of noise, dissonance, and unconventional song structures that would later become their hallmark.

The album kicks off with a sense of urgency, its opening tracks characterized by frenetic guitar work and Kim Gordon’s distinctive vocals, which oscillate between spoken word and melodic singing. Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo’s guitars weave a complex tapestry of sound, at times clashing in a cacophony of noise, at other times aligning in melodic harmony. Steve Shelley’s percussion work provides a steady backbone to the chaos, driving the music forward with precision and energy.

What stands out in ‘Walls Have Ears’ is Sonic Youth’s willingness to experiment and push the boundaries of what rock music could be. The album’s live recording aspect adds a rawness and immediacy to the music, making it feel like a fleeting moment captured in time. The sound quality, while not polished, adds to the album’s charm, giving it an authenticity and a palpable sense of being in the room with the band.

Tracks like ‘Shadow of a Doubt’ and ‘Brother James’ showcase the band’s ability to balance melody with noise, creating a soundscape that is as haunting as it is beautiful. The album also hints at the direction Sonic Youth would take in future releases, with moments of ambient noise foreshadowing their later work.

However, ‘Walls Have Ears’ is not without its flaws. The experimental nature of the album means that it can be challenging to listen to, with some tracks feeling more like sonic experiments than fully realized songs. This may alienate listeners who prefer more traditional song structures and melodies. Additionally, the live recording quality, while adding character, can sometimes detract from the music’s impact, with certain nuances getting lost in the mix.

‘Walls Have Ears’ is a compelling document of Sonic Youth’s early years, offering a glimpse into the band’s creative process and their foundational experiments with sound. It’s a must-listen for fans of the band and aficionados of alternative and experimental rock, serving as a reminder of Sonic Youth’s influential role in shaping the genre. While it may not be the easiest entry point for new listeners, it remains an important piece of the band’s discography, showcasing their raw talent and innovative spirit.”

Share Button
About Author

Chris Ryan

Chris Ryan is an accomplished promoter, event planner, producer, activist, counselor, poet and blogger. Within the course of two and a half years Chris Ryan has worked with some of NYC's most established promoters/event planners, been named 2007′s GaySocialite of the year, granted a promoter of the year award from NYC's most famous gay establishment, Splash. He's worked in some of NYC's top venues including; Avalon, Capitale, Cipriani, Cielo, Pacha, Element, Le Poisson Rouge, XL, G Lounge, Plumm, Hilton Hotel, Indigo Hotel, Spirit, Myst/Quo, Splash, The Ritz, Vlada, Roseland Ballroom, Heaven, etc. In 2008, Chris Ryan has begun to unveil some of the most innovative & unique parties New York City has ever seen. The Fusion events "fuse" together all disciplines of art into an event that remains diverse yet cohesive at the same time. won best gay promotions website from NYC Event Patrons in 2008 & he was granted an award from the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, Gov. Patterson & Michelle Clunie (QAF) saluting him for his hard work in nightlife. Chris Ryan has also begun working with many renown companies, including; doctors, lawyers, physicians, modeling agencies & more. Chris Ryan has been responsible for wide-scale promotions for all these companies & generating tremendous business. Chris Ryan has even started to become National with events taking place in LA & Miami this year. In May of 2009 Chris Ryan received the very prestigious honor of being named a "40 Under 40″ Gays in America by the Advocate Magazine. He also created three successful parties that generated over 1,500 patrons each. In January of 2010 Chris Ryan was featured as one of the top promoters to look out for in Noize Magazine Chris Ryan joined forces with legendary promoter/event producer, Lee Chappell and created one of the most talked about events of all 2010, Desire @ Capitale. Chris Ryan and Lee featured one of the most outstanding artists NYC has ever seen, "Oh Land." Her performance coupled with an exquisite and unforgettable set design added to this extravagant event that held over 1,000 patrons in one of NYC's most successful PRIDE events! Chris Ryan then joined forces with legendary Pacha promoter, Rob Fernandez in addition to Jake Resnicow and Tommy Marinelli to bring one of the largest and most successful parties worldwide to NYC, MATINEE. The event on Governor's Island saw over 2,000+ attendees and one of the most ambitious productions ever. In 2011 Chris Ryan started Emerge Music Promotions with business partner Darren Melchiorre. Emerge Music promotions began signing artists with plans to develop and market the artists to the community at large. Emerge Music promotions has big events planned for 2012 and 2013. Chris Ryan debuted the IMAGE events which took place on top of two of NYC's most beautiful rooftop venues, Rare View and Indigo Hotel. The events were blogged everywhere and featured the fashion designs of several clothing designers, artists and photographers. Chris Ryan felt that fashion and art should be displayed at every event and attracted the likes of Malan Breton, Calvin Klein and even Katy Perry. Chris Ryan began an extremely successful event which incorporated the concept of a house party into a nightclub atmosphere. The event Twist'D at G Lounge has been one of the most talked about events in NYC and allows it's audience to play nearly-naked Twister, beer pong, flip cup & more with other attendees. Chris Ryan was granted an excellence in volunteering award from AVP (Anti-Violence Project) for all his efforts in supporting the organization. 2013 has a very promising landscape on the horizon and Chris Ryan is complacent in saying "you haven't seen anything yet!"

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.