MADELEINE BRAND, host:

The rock band Sonic Youth has been around long enough to no longer be youthful, but they're still going strong. They've just released a new album of previously unreleased tracks and B-sides. It's called “The Destroyed Room.” John Brady has our review.

(Soundbite of song, “Fire Engine Dream”)

JOHN BRADY: That bit of anxious cacophony is called “Fire Engine Dream.” A 10-minute swirl of sound, it opens Sonic Youth's latest release. What immediately grabs you on this and other tracks are the band's signature bursts of noise. What keeps you listening are the shadings of emotion and feeling that emerge amidst all the fuzz and distortion.

(Soundbite of song, “Fire Engine Dream”)

BRADY: Oftentimes, bands who release collections of B-sides and rarities are just seeking to get rid of musical marginalia. They might as well title their output Junk We Found Lying Around the Studio and Decided to Pawn Off on Our Fans.

(Soundbite of song, “Queen Anne Chair”)

BRADY: Thankfully “Destroyed Room” departs from this regrettable trend. Admittedly, there are a few toss-off clunkers here and there, but the vast majority of tracks are worthwhile and strong. Here's "Queen Anne Chair," which shimmers with off-kilter, angular beauty.

(Soundbite of song, “Queen Anne Chair”)

BRADY: Earlier this year, Sonic Youth released the album “Rather Ripped.” It delightfully blended the band's penchant for experimentation and their quirky, but keenly developed pop and rock sense. Here's the song “Reena,” the first track from “Rather Ripped.”

(Soundbite of song, “Reena”)

SONIC YOUTH (Rock Band): (Singing) When you were gone, I met a friend. She taught me how to live again. She keeps me coming home again…

BRADY: “The Destroyed Room” focuses to a much greater degree on musical experimentation, and in this regard is a good companion to the more conventional “Rather Ripped.” On “The Destroyed Room,” you can hear the band play with samples and odd guitar tunings for the pure love of sound.

(Soundbite of music)

BRADY: Sonic Youth has been around for a quarter of a century. The band mates started out on the fringes of New York City's art and music scene. They've been recording for the music powerhouse Geffen Records for the last 16 years. This move toward the mainstream hasn't dulled their ability to find new ways to express their take on contemporary life and culture, especially urban life. With their noisy, fractured guitar lines, the band captures the anxiety and loneliness of the city. But they also appreciate the exuberance, even sublime pleasure, of life. Their ringing melodies tell us that. Call it hipster modernism. It's wonderful.

(Soundbite of music)

BRAND: John Brady is a writer living in Santa Monica, California. You can hear songs from the new Sonic Youth album, “The Destroyed Room,” at our Web site, npr.org.

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