Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Daydream Nation Deluxe Anniversary Edition

Posted By on Wed, Jul 18, 2007 at 12:00 AM

Four years before Nevermind made alt-rock mainstream, Daydream Nation put alt-rock in the underground unconscious. Until then, Sonic Youth was a regional phenomena, a New York art-damage combo whose droning guitar tunings and dirge-y songwriting saw them lead a soon-to-influence scuzz-rock scene that included Swans and Live Skull.

Twenty years on, Daydream Nation sounds more important than it was good. Sonic Youth's constant touring meant its songs could grow and take shape on the road, and for most of the band's catalog the results could be amazing. But with DN, the touring meant exposure to more conventionally rock and punk bands — the album has a love-hate relationship with the pre-grunge sound and its hardcore punk roots that influence it. The Anniversary Edition here features live versions of the album's songs, and almost all become amped-up thrash versions pushed into blurry races to some unseen finish line.

The Youth's trademarks of spindly, oddly-tuned hooks and ebb-and-flow arrangements are here. But the faster, rocking songs such as "Silver Rocket" and the so-cool-it's-cold "Total Trash" make for an even sloppier catapult for the live versions. And the live takes rarely capture the studio versions' cohesive blend of manic and melancholy.

The Youth hit its stride in the early '90s on Dirty. But Daydream Nation is still much better, even with its sloppy live cuts, than its 1990 major-label debut, Goo. In an era where other bands do Sonic Youth better than Sonic Youth (Blonde Redhead for its melancholy guitar, Trail Of Dead for its sprawling bee-hive-to-lullaby epics), Daydream Nation is the Youth at its most "alt"-rocking, sure, but it's not the band's best.

Hobey Echlin writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to


We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

More by Hobey Echlin

Read the Digital Print Issue

April 7, 2021

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2021 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation