by Eric Hill @surgeryradio
Here’s some crazy rock and roll math for you… Bad Moon Rising was released in 1985, which is thirty years ago, yeah? If we go thirty years prior to this Sonic Youth cornerstone that puts us in 1955, a year BEFORE Elvis Presley put out his first full length album. That seems completely strange, and I can’t even fully explain why.
While we’re pondering this temporal puzzle why not consider the 30th anniversary reissue of Sonic Youth’s Bad Moon Rising on their own Goofin’ label? While it was the band’s third full studio album (if you count the expanded self-titled debut) it is arguably the first where they began to sound like the band they would for the next decade or more.
On this first blow of the one-two-three punch (Bad Moon Rising, EVOL, Sister) that sets up the roundhouse that is Daydream Nation, Sonic Youth finds a way to disentangle the various hooks and melodies that were twisted beneath noisy piles of malfunctioning ¼ inch guitar patches and distortion pedals. With reverence for the loosely related tropes found in 70s punk, 60s fuzzy psychedelic, modern composition, and the multiverse of Dadaist art impulses, the band created a sound that seemed a piece with the No Wave scene they graduated from, but also one that broke new ground.
This new broken ground was fertile space for every new artist since whose desire was to write a rock song that could be both catchy and challenging at the same time; and listening to Bad Moon Rising is a little like hearing the open bracket to our current era of rock music.