Fire Note Says: After a long career playing bass in Sonic Youth, Kim Gordon steps out solo on an artful, noisy piece of self-expression that has a beat you can dance to.
Album Review: Pretty sure the first time I saw Kim Gordon’s band Sonic Youth live was in 1991 when they toured opening for Neil Young with Social Distortion, between their albums Goo and Dirty, two of their most commercially successful. Young’s audience was likely not familiar with either band, but was pretty patient and into Mike Ness’ Social D., because their raucous punk played by pop song rules, plus who wouldn’t love their cover of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire,” but it was a different story with Sonic Youth. The band’s no-wave, punk ethos embraced noise and distortion, and stretch the boundaries on what works as a traditional rock song in a way that sent a great number of Young’s audience running for the venue’s lobby bars. When they reached that part of the show, where Gordon, Thurston Moore and second guitarist Lee Ranaldo sank to the floor and began sliding around the stage, rubbing the strings of their bass and guitars against the monitors and mic stands, those that had remained went scampering for the doors, except for a faithful few of us. It was both predictable and hilarious. Young had been quoted saying he’d been looking for an opening act that his fans would either love or hate, and we all agree Sonic Youth totally fit the bill.
After art school on the West Coast, Gordon traveled to NYC to pursue a career as an artist, but soon took up playing bass in Sonic Youth, producing 6 indie albums before signing to DGC, making 9 more records for the major label. A few years in, Gordon and Moore were married, and the band broke up in 2011 shortly after their marriage ended. Throughout her musical career with Sonic Youth and a variety of side projects, Moore continued to work as a visual artist and fashion designer, and in 1991 she was the producer on the band Hole’s debut album, Pretty On The Inside. No Record Home is Gordon’s solo debut, an idea she is said to have embraced after an accidental meeting with producer Justin Raisen at an Airbnb, which no doubt played a role in the creation of her track, “Air Bnb.”
While Raisen is perhaps best known for work with pop & hip-hop acts, like Angel Olsen and Charli XCX, he’s also worked with Billy Corgan, Michael Stipe and indie rock band Sunflower Bean. Raisen, while providing a crisply produced recording, let’s Gordon be her predictably artsy, noisy self. “Murdered Out,” which dates back to 2016, is about as close as she gets to Sonic Youth’s rock song sound, else where she delves into hip-hop loops and dub mix dance tracks like “Don’t Play It,” while some of her spoken word pieces, laid over interesting musical beds, recall the art recordings of the likes of Laurie Anderson (“Paprika Pony” and “Cookie Butter”), but definitely have Gordon’s edge and grit.
Noisy and feedback driven “Get Yr Life Back” mixes a spoken word piece that was inspired by an actual street sound Gordon saw advertising “Get Your Life Back Yoga,” an arty commentary on the commercialization of modern life. Similarly, “Air Bnb,” with a fun bassline and crash & burn guitar accents, celebrates the amenities as “rustic, romantic.” Gordon’s musical art is a fun commentary on everyday life in America, and surprisingly, it has a beat and you can dance to it. So it has that going for it.
Key Tracks: “Air Bnb” / “Murdered Out” / “Cookie Butter”
Artists With Similar Fire: Sonic Youth / Sleater-Kinny / L7
Kim Gordon Website
Kim Gordon Facebook
– Reviewed by Brian Q. Newcomb
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