Ciccone Youth - The Whitey Album
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Ciccone Youth
The Whitey Album

This marks the second time that The Whitey Album has been reissued since its original release about 18 years ago now. At the time, Sonic Youth threw a couple recorded wanks alongside a b-side that Mike Watt had recorded and put it out as a 7", but eventually the side project experiments grew into a full album. It's always been viewed as a weird curiosity, and still comes across that way all this time later.

Basically, the album is about half wank and half spooky guitar / drum machine experiments that should be heard by just about anyone who appreciates a good blistering fuzz of guitar atmospherics. The disc opens with the rather oppressive "Needle-Gun" as increasingly-loud walls of fuzz gain in intensity alongside ringing beat loops and sound samples of street noise. Tracks like "Platoon II" and "Macbeth" stand out as some of the best work on the entire release, mixing more programmed beats with some squalls of guitars that are dense and haunting. In a way, those two tracks seem to forecast a lot of the shoegazery experiments that would follow some time later.

"Children Of Satan / Third Fig" follows a somewhat similar structure and the ringing guitars and overdriven drum sounds mesh up nicely. The aforementioned tracks are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what you get with the release, though, and unfortunately they're about the most engaging as well. The aforementioned Mike Watt-involved track of "Burnin' Up" sounds like about what you'd expect, kinda like a boombox-recorded, more mellow Minutemen extended jam. The attempts at humor on the disc are pretty wink-nod and don't manage to hold up so well, including tracks like the completely wanky spoken-word, new wave noise disaster of "Two Cool Rock Chicks Listening To Neu" and the obligatory one minute of silence on the appropriately-titled "Silence."

There are a couple covers on the disc as well, and they're both about as flat as can be. Kim Gordon does vocal duties on Robert Palmer's "Addicted To Love" and turns the track into a bad karaoke number while Thurston Moore ends up doing just about the same thing to Madonna (hence the adopted band name) on "Into The Groovey." At seventeen tracks and almost an hour in length, The Whitey Album has a couple things going for it, but because of all the weird diversions mostly remains as a large piss-take of popular music at the time it came out by some avant rock artists who were just starting to really make a name for themselves.

rating: 6.510
Aaron Coleman 2006-03-30 20:28:26