Music News

Snob Talk: Nobody Really Likes Sonic Youth

Welcome to the first installment of Snob Talk, where we ask different writers to wax philosophic, and self-indulgent, about a new topic each week. This week, we had folks write about bands that they're pretty sure people laud more than listen to.

Every hipster—who’s as mysterious and obscure as the band buttons(1) on his vintage leather coat—owns a copy of every Sonic Youth record ever released(2) This cultural phenomenon occurs organically, despite the trivial handful of good songs the group wrote over the course of its painfully over-appreciated career. Sure the band was innovative(3) and unique(4) but that doesn’t always equate with “good” or even “listenable.”

That’s why it’s always been much cooler to claim you listen to Sonic Youth than to actually listen to the band—the former activity will earn you the respect of cute, bespectacled hipster chicks; the later, a sneaking urge to listen to something better. Even at Sonic Youth shows, the mood is morose. If look at expressions plastered on the respective faces of the crowd, you will osmotically gain a profound understanding of the difference between “enjoying” music and “enduring” it. Sonic Youth performances are like funerals(5)—you only go for two reasons: A) to make an appearance. And B) so you can tell people you were there.

Of course, I could be wrong(6) Maybe Son-You is one of those bands you have to hear a hundred times before you can even begin to like it. But if that’s the case, then how could so many fickle hipsters with their flavor-of-the-month get-ups invest sufficient time and effort to justify placing a Sonic Youth pin on their fancy attire? It seems they’d too busy finding a place to park at Urban Outfitters. -- Brian Polk

Footnotes: 1) Hipsters always prefer buttons to sew-on patches. They claim the latter are too immature and punkish for someone with tastes as refined as theirs. But mainly it’s because sewing a piece of cloth on a vintage leather coat is too much of a commitment, and of would lessen its resell value. 2) If the vinyl is from the SST days, add at least another ¾ an inch of hipster boner. 3) If you consider a gratuitous amount of distortion and noise “innovative.” 4) Mainly because no other band possessed the gall or fortitude to disguise bland melodies underneath walls of clamor. 5) Very loud funerals where the subject of attention is not a dead person. Still, everyone dresses up and no one can figure out why they paid good money for it. 6) Admittedly, everyone who likes this band likes tons of good bands. Strange.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Sean Cronin