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Sonic Youth 

Sonic Youth EP (DGC/Universal)

Rescued from the out-of-print wilderness, Sonic Youth's self-titled debut reveals itself as quite the opposite of the festering, tonal Hades delivered by such subsequent records as Confusion Is Sex or Bad Moon Rising. Instead, we find a diminutive blond Art Forum contributor picking up a bass, a pair of Glenn Branca-affiliated guitar soldiers, and a not-long-for-this-lineup drummer, thoughtfully laying the groundwork for a quarter-century of aural expansion and redecoration. Lee Ranaldo and Thurston Moore come correct with uniquely tuned guitar clangs and crashes, throwing down tasteful washes of effects-pedal screech on occasion. Kim Gordon's basic but bold bass parts are distinctly audible in the mix and more integral than they later became, driving forward with the help of Richard Edison's precise wallop. Sonic Youth's true Holy Grail? The live bonus tracks from 1981, particularly "Cosmopolitan Girl," a dissonant, scintillatingly simplistic bit of sarcastic Gordon punk, echoed by riot grrrls for decades to come.

More by Ray Cummings

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