Event licks 

Sometime between the time NYC Ghosts & Flowers redefined Beat Generation—fellating uselessness and al-Qaida terrorists flew planes into the towers, Sonic Youth — or somebody on Sonic Youth's management team — had an epiphany: Why not roll out each SY opus as though it were a summer installment in a blockbuster franchise? Put the word on the street in early spring, roll the disc out in June, then launch a huge, momentum-riding tour.

Given that SY excursions mimic hazy, dog-day atmospheres, anyway — heat-exposure prose unspooling into bouts of sweaty, noisy fret-copulation — this gambit made sense. While The Eternal hews to this post—Memorial Day schedule, it pulls the storied sequel trick of shuffling the deck without actually shifting the paradigm: new label (Matador), new sidekick (ex-Pavement member Mark Ibold on bass) and new-and-improved schtick (all three singers harmonize at times). Draped in what appears to be a swirling portal to hell — a John Fahey ass painting, as it happens — Eternal is Sonic Youth's most self-indulgent album since Flowers. No longer under the corporate-rock whip, they forgo even the appearance of mainstream capitulation, drifting into a water-treading, if enlivened, limbo that shrugs off the (largely) battened-hatch creep of 2004's Sonic Nurse and 2006's Rather Ripped. Ripped ended with rote interview-query murmurs, and the punk-lite "Sacred Trickster" kicks Eternal off with one more as Kim Gordon yelps, "What's it like to be a girl in a band?/I just don't understand!"

From there, we're off to SY's bohemian paradise, all urgent verse-chorus-verse buildups surging into manicured noise-pop gullies. Immediate crowd-pleasers — like the barbed, stinging "Malibu Gas Station," which perpetuates Gordon's celeb fetish by drooling over Britney Spears through the paparazzi's massed camera eye — yield to fare like the drowsy, adoring Thurston Moore ballad "Antenna," the is-it-stalking-or-caring-too-much? snarl of "What We Know" and the sunnysided "Walkin Blue," which finds Lee Ranaldo at his most unashamedly hippie yet. Eternal earns its place in your six-disc changer by degrees, and does its next-installment duty just well enough. You'll laugh, you'll sigh, you'll check for Sonic Youth's next comfort-food ear-flick whenever it's on the horizon.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, 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

Orlando Weekly 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 Central Florida.

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 Orlando’s true free press free.

More by Raymond Cummings


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

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

Read the Digital Print Issue

April 21, 2021

View more issues


© 2021 Orlando Weekly

Website powered by Foundation