🎵 Brave Men Run
Although tensions that included marital infidelity forced them apart, no-wave hipsters Sonic Youth lasted longer than most bands. By the end of their 30-year run, members were musing that they would be making more money touring if they had broken up and gotten back together again, like many of the alternative bands of their generation (see Pixies, Dinosaur Jr.).
Alas, the rifts came late in the game for the band, but they came nonetheless. That is partly what makes their upcoming live album, Live in Brooklyn 2011, so special. The album preserves the band’s last real show (though technically, they had a contractually obligated festival run in South America a few months later).
Fittingly, the setlist is a mishmash of songs from their entire career, starting off with some of their oldest material. “Brave Men Run (In My Family)” is in the pole position, showcasing Sonic Youth’s strengths, both from their early incarnation and those they built over time. There are the retuned droning guitars that start off the track, followed by harder hitting chords with some pounding drums keeping an unusual time signature (though the band said they were never into the math of it). That builds into a screeching, deafening wall of sound, only to die off as quickly as it starts to make way for Kim Gordon’s to chant her verses. Gordon brought her unique, hoarse but powerful vocals, that come across almost more like an agro recitation of beat poetry than traditional rock vocals. The song eases out with some hushed harmonics, preparing listeners for an equally blistering rendition of another early Youth song, “Death Valley ’69.”
Twelve years after the legendary band’s dissolution, this release seems like an appropriate encapsulation of Sonic Youth’s career.