For a few years I was lucky enough to work as a staff writer at Type In Stereo where I got to voice all my strange and needlessly in-depth opinions about music. It was a great time. So I’m happy to announce that some of my fellow writers from Type In Stereo are dusting off their keyboards and joining me for 2015’s musical year-end-review. We’ve each laid out our top five albums of the year plus one special mention that didn’t qualify for our lists but that we couldn’t leave out. But enough about our little reunion. It’s review time.
- EP 1 by Polyenso. I had a very difficult time leaving Dustin Kensrue’s Carry the Fire off of my list, although – knowing my cowriters as I do – I feel confident that he’ll be making an appearance later in the post. In lieu of that record, Polyenso’s most recent EP makes the cut with its incredible mix of styles and structures. The EP opens with ’17 New Years’ which sounds like it was written and produced by Peter Gabriel for Into the Flood-era As Tall As Lions and sung by Thom Yorke. That’s a captivating mix and it doesn’t relent across the next three songs. As it is, the whole EP approaches the pinnacle of the groovy, relaxed vibe that Polyeno has cultivated with all their work, perhaps best encapsulated by the soothing ‘Osaka Son.’
- Act IV: Rebirth In Reprise by The Dear Hunter. Most of The Dear Hunter’s contemporaries seem to have grown in progressive phases, moving and developing from one sound to another. But The Dear Hunter was always different. The band and its sound seem to have burst forth, fully formed, from the head of band-leader/genius/Zeus-in-this-metaphor Casey Crescenzo. The result of that early maturity is that TDH hasn’t so much progressed its sound as aggregated new elements into it. Act IV is brilliant and full of wonderful moments but its core is not far removed from that of its predecessors so if you’re not a fan of TDH’s prior work, this album probably won’t convert you. And yet if you’ve appreciated the rollicking, baroque prog-pop of prior TDH records, you won’t be able to resist the soaring melodies of ‘Waves,’ the heaviness of ‘Wait’ or the majesty of ‘At the End of the Earth.’ Plus there’s a whole slew of audio call-backs scattered across the album, none more impressive than the repurposing of a b-side during ‘A Night On the Town’ in a moment that’s so goddamn triumphant it feels like Leia should award medals to Luke and Han at the end of it.
- What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World by The Decemberists. It seems like they should be running out of fuel by now but The Decemberists just kind of keep doing their folksy, Portlandia-but-in-real-life thing. And even though I didn’t love every minute of their newest release (‘Cavalry Captain’ and ‘Philomena’ just aren’t cutting it for me) some of the songs on this record are immediate classics. ‘Make You Better’ is a deserving single and ‘Mistral’ could be as well. But it’s the album’s more morose moments that have kept me coming back all year: the graceful ‘Lake Song’ and the haunting pair of ‘Til the Water’s All Gone’ and ‘Carolina Low.’ Not to mention the lyrically powerful ’12/17/12′ which tackles the Sandyhook tragedy in a way that only master lyricist Colin Meloy could.
- Surface Tension by Hidden Hospitals. To be totally frank, it kind of breaks my heart that this this album isn’t popping up on more year-end lists. No other band sounds like Hidden Hospitals who on this record mix intricate, counterpart clean-guitar noodling with absolutely ferocious breakdowns and totally unique melodies. Plus, the truly phenomenal production makes for an album that leaps out of your speakers. From the moment of that first distorted blast in album-opener ‘Pulp’ it’s hard not to be hooked. And the album just doesn’t relent. ‘Modern Saints’ is entrancing with its rolling drumbeat, ‘Trilogy’ brings a hard rock equivalent of “the drop” and album finale and eponymous track ‘Surface Tension’ is an absolute masterpiece. If you like melody and guitar work, you simply have to have this album.
- The Money Pit by The Money Pit. Well this is no surprise. Earlier this year I wrote a lot about The Money Pit’s excellent self-titled debut. And there’s still more to say. This is an album that delivers on every front. It’s catchy, it’s clever and it’s completely fresh. The guitars and bass are driving, the drums are rhythmic and the vocals and lyrics engage the listener in a way that no other album – from this year or any other – does. This is an album for an aging demographic – my demographic – that is beginning to realize that youthful rebellion does not always mold the world as you would hope. “Yeah, at first you think you’re getting a paycheck for all the work that you do,” Nic Newsham sings in ‘Killing Time In Hawaii,’ “No, but you, you’re just selling your life off in blocks like a timeshare.” The laments of the disenfranchised have never been so memorable.
Special Mention: Since Before Our Time by Wolves & Machines. Though I spent a lot of time listening to the collected works of Morning Parade this year, I have to briefly talk about Since Before Our Time, the masterwork by Michigan natives Wolves & Machines. It’s an unrelenting record that evokes the best parts of Further Seems Forever and Moving Mountains. That’s high praise but it’s earned. From the get-go this 2014 release comes at you with pounding guitars and thumping melodies and it doesn’t let you go until its end…which conveniently feeds back into its beginning. There’s really no reason to ever stop listening.
- The Color Before the Sun by Coheed & Cambria. Coheed has something of a unique position in the history of Type In Stereo. We are all big fans of In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth: 3, but any discussion of their other albums quickly descends into rage-fueled poop-flinging. Some of us like the first Good Apollo but not the second; some like the Afterman albums while others only listen to ‘Time Consumer’ on endless repeat. One of us even enjoyed Year Of The Black Rainbow, for God’s sake. Clearly anything short of a return to the power and complexity of their golden era would result in further disparagement. So what of The Color Before The Sun? Is it the great moment of reconciliation we have been waiting for? No. It’s not. But it is worth your time. It’s not as heavy as In Keeping Secrets, not as nuanced as The Second Stage Turbine Blade, and not as experimental as either of the Good Apollo albums; in fact, I feel disingenuous calling it anything but an eccentric rock album. It prominently features the catchy melodies the band has always relied on and it embraces a simplicity I find oddly endearing. Though it could do with a time signature shift once and a while, I’m impressed by how powerful this album is. The opening trio of ‘Island,’ ‘Eraser’ and ‘Colors’ presents a beautiful mix of tones, especially considering how formulaic their structures are. They’re brilliantly catchy. ‘The Audience’ is the heaviest song on the album by a long shot, and it delivers a moody and occasionally fierce effort that manages to feel natural despite its place on an album so laced with sugar. And though the middle of the album contains a couple of songs that are practically unlistenable, it’s still an album I’ve kept in heavy rotation over the past two months. Give it a shot. It may be something of a guilty pleasure, but I bet you find yourself humming these tunes when you least expect it.
- Pale Horses by mewithoutYou. mewithoutYou is an intensely strange band. I have always enjoyed their work, but I never really got deeply into any of their albums until Ten Stories back in 2012. That album was as gorgeous as it was eclectic. The narrative structure, the blending of seemingly irreconcilable musical genres and the album’s general emotive power showed that mewithoutYou was not just talented but profoundly innovative. So I was pretty excited when Pale Horses, the follow-up to Ten Stories, arrived this year. This record is far less ambitious but still remarkable in its own way. In truth, it reminds me of the way I felt listening to Thrice’s Beggars after the wild ride that was The Alchemy Index – the complexity was diminished but the creative tone remained. There are times when Pale Horses roars with aggression and there are times when it’s grand and sweeping, but more often than not it’s hauntingly beautiful, swaying lightly from song to song on a tide made of fuzzed distortion, twinkling lead lines and the tremulous vocals of Aaron Weiss. The entire album sounds like one long piece but if you don’t have time to take it all in, give yourself over to the final two tracks: ‘Birnam Wood’ and ‘Rainbow Signs.’ They are the pinnacles of what this album has to offer and they close it out in grand style.
- Strangers to Ourselves by Modest Mouse. Of all the albums on this list, this is the one I have actually listened to the most this year. From the first note to the last, it sounds as though the gap between We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank and Strangers to Ourselves could have been two weeks instead of eight years. ‘Lampshades on Fire,’ ‘The Best Room,’ ‘Ansel,’ ‘Wicked Campaign’…take your pick, any one of them could have been on 2007’s We Were Dead or even 2004’s Good News For People Who Love Bad News. The only downside is ‘Pistol,’ which I think we can all agree is a terrible, terrible song. With that said, the album sometimes feels a bit stale, simply because it sounds so familiar. Good News For People Who Love Bad News and We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank are two of my all-time favourite albums, so the fact that their new album sounds so similar to those two is fine by me, but I can’t deny that I get the most excited by ‘Sugar Boats,’ a song that fits nicely into the Modest Mouse canon without really sounding like anything they have ever done before. I’m happy to hear that Isaac Brock and the boys haven’t lost their touch, but I would love to see them take things further.
- Popular Demain by Alarmist. Math-rock has been my white whale for the past few years. For about one month of every year, I drop everything and search for a band that will combine layered tapping, mind-bending rhythms and lyrical melodies in the perfect ratio of math to rock. Minus The Bear came close (somewhere, a hipster is very angry at me). TTNG upped the math part brilliantly, but I find the vocals annoying and it distracts me from how awesome everything else is. Last year I discovered Rooftops, and I was extremely pleased. Still, a desire for more vocals kept them from ending the discussion altogether. This year’s endeavour brought me to Alarmist’s Popular Demain. Is the search over? Certainly not – there are no vocals and far more keyboard than tapping. But it has been a truly pleasant experience immersing myself in the soundscapes that Alarmist creates. From the jaunty rhythms of ‘Petrichor’ to the electronic warbles of ‘Boston Space,’ this record sounds like the soundtrack to a science fiction movie from the ’80s. It is less of a straightforward math-rock album than the lovechild of Kid A and BioWare’s Mass Effect but all the essential elements are still accounted for. The final track, ‘Cordillera,’ has become the backdrop for my late-night writing sprees. It may not be my white whale, but it is undoubtedly one of the best instrumental albums I have ever heard.
- Kintsugi by Death Cab for Cutie. My choice for top album of the year is one that I very nearly did not pick up at all. Death Cab For Cutie’s Codes and Keys from 2011 left a bad taste in my mouth. It wasn’t even a bad album, really, but it lacked heart. It traded in the atmosphere of their previous works for hollow pop melodies. The production value was far too clean for my liking, and it lacked any pretence of emotional impact. I didn’t like it, is what I’m getting at. So when Kintsugi arrived, I ignored it with vigour, and the radio play of ‘Black Sun’ did very little to improve my disposition. But when I finally gave the rest of the album a spin, I was extremely surprised. ‘No Room In Frame’ Is vintage Death Cab, while ‘The Ghosts of Beverly Drive’ does Codes and Keys the way it should have been done in the first place. What really hooked me though was the ’80s throwback work on ‘Little Wanderer’ and ‘Everything’s a Ceiling.’ I know, I know, everyone is doing ’80s throwback stuff right now. And to make matters worse, I absolutely loathe the music of that decade. But it works so damn well on this album that I can’t help but dance, just a little bit. It’s not Transatlanticism. It’s not Plans. But it’s a breath of fresh air for a band that desperately needed it.
Special Mention: ‘Mene’ by Brand New. Oh Jesse, why won’t you just put out an album already? ‘Mene’ is the first release from Brand New in six years, and the more perceptive of you out there will have noticed that it is a single track, not an album. Still, it’s pretty good. And that raised all manner of hope for a return to the glory days of The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Of Me. It’s fast-paced, full of tortured vocals and biblical lyrics about…being sad, I guess? It’s chock full of angst and frustration and a search for deeper meaning. Surely this new album they have been working on since before Game of Thrones was on the air will be intensely satisfying…except that I read recently that ‘Mene’ isn’t a new song. It was written – you guessed it – during the sessions for The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Of Me, but was only recently rediscovered by the band. Now, I’m still pleased that they took the time to go back into a recording studio, but I must admit that re-hashing a song almost a decade old is not going to cut it. Please Jesse, just tell me the truth: are you guys breaking up? Or are you actually writing anything? Just give me something I can work with!
- Dealer by Foxing. Foxing is the only band on my list that is completely new to me. Since I had never heard Foxing’s debut, The Albatross, I came to Dealer with a clean palate and no expectations. From what I can tell, many of their fans were expecting something sounding more along the lines of The Albatross and thus were disappointed with the different direction the band took this time out. And though Dealer is definitely more mellow than its predecessor, there are still some truly “heavy” moments here. Conor Murphy’s vocals are outstanding and do a lot to carry the album while ranging from an Andy Hull-type aggression to a more mellow croon. Meanwhile, the instrumental part of Dealer is unique in its own right and seems to be an amalgam of post-rock, late 90’s emo and Local Natives-esque indie rock. The guitars sparkle with reverb like Explosions in the Sky and yet the heart of the songs never get lost. Experiencing Dealer through a decent set of headphones allows you to appreciate some of the nuances that would otherwise be missed. For one, the bass is stellar, keeping a unique line while also not being distracting. The drums also standout as excellent and keep things fresh with interesting beats and fills that defy genre expectations. Add in trumpets and strings and Dealer amounts to an impressive sophomore effort.
- Hospital Handshakes by Rocky Votolato. I was a huge fan of Makers, and ‘White Daisy Passing’ in particular, but didn’t give Rocky Votolato’s newer stuff too much thought until it was announced that he had signed with No Sleep Records. I decided to check out Hospital Handshakes on Spotify because why the hell not, right? At first listen I was actually a bit surprised by how much the album rocked because I typically think of Votolato as a folksy, acoustic-type artist. There really aren’t many of those “acoustic” moments on Handshakes, though. Instead the album consists mostly of moody rock songs that focus on electric guitars or piano. The album’s first four tracks in particular are incredible and sound nothing like what I would had expected. Its easy to get lost in Votolato’s smooth voice on a song like ‘Boxcutter’ which is built on a simple arrangement. ‘The Hereafter’ follows that up with one of the more rocking songs on the album before the title track and ‘Royal’ close out this powerful opening suite. As it is, ‘Royal’ features some of my favorite lyrics off the album and is based around the movie The Royal Tenenbaums, a personal favorite of yours truly. All told, Hospital Handshakes is far from what I would have expected from a singer/songwriter like Votolato. Its more in line with something by a full rock band or by a seasoned genre-busting vet like Ryan Adams. If you are into music that has lots of layers without becoming too involved, Hospital Handshakes is an album you’ll want to hear.
- Nonstop Feeling by Turnstile. I was going to pick Sufjan Stevens’ Carrie & Lowell but there’s really nothing to say about that record and I’ve actually spent more time listening to Nonstop Feeling anyway. So here’s one for all my hardcore friends. Despite their generically hardcore band name, Turnstile hardly sounds like a typical hardcore band. Fronted by Brendan Yates, the drummer of D.C. hardcore outfit Trapped Under Ice, Turnstile definitely focuses on the late ’90s NYC hardcore sound much like TUI did. But while TUI typically stuck to that sound, Turnstile merely uses it as a starting point. Part of what makes Turnstile so unique is the vocal delivery of Yates. It’s is rooted in that NYHC style but also includes flavors of Zach De La Rocha and Anthony Kiedis. There are a lot of twists and turns on Nonstop Feeling as well. ‘Blue By You’ sounds like it came off of Title Fight’s Hyperview and ‘Out of Rage’ would sound at home on Rage Against the Machine’s self-titled debut. Despite all that, Turnstile doesn’t abandon their hardcore roots as this album includesvplenty of head bobbing breakdowns and, ultimately, if you aren’t into NYHC, this probably isn’t an album for you. That being said, if you’re a hardcore purest, you might not like it either due to all that variation. But if you’re a hardcore fan who welcomes innovation and creativity in the genre, Nonstop Feeling may be your next favorite album.
- Permanence by No Devotion. I suppose at this point I can be considered a fanboy of Geoff Rickley’s. My cred? I thought Thursday’s last album, No Devolucion, was among their best material. I delved into both United Nations albums like a fat kid with a cupcake. I also really enjoy the few solo cuts Rickley’s released. When it was announced that he was involved in a collaboration with the members of Lost Prophets I was instantly excited, even though I had never been a fan of LP. No Devotion release two EPs that were promising if only for the potential on display. Permanence realizes that potential and falls somewhere between Joy Division, Depeche Mode, The Smiths and My Bloody Valentine. It’s a perfect album for anyone wanting a modern incarnation of the dark sounds of a bygone era. It sounds very much like something that would have come out in the ’80s but not in a cheesy, video-game synth pop type way. Rickley’s voice hardly resembles what it was in Thursday, which is a bit ironic considering all the Morrissey comparisons he got early on in his career. He usually keeps it in a lower register across Permanence, which lends itself to the ambiance created by the rest of the music. Musically, some of the tracks sound 100% electronic while others sound like a typical 5-piece rock band. The album is well produced and blended so that a sense of cohesion remains but it’s this diversity that has held my interest since the album first dropped.
- Carry the Fire by Dustin Kensrue. The singer for my favorite band releases the long awaited follow up to his stellar debut album and its my favorite album of the year. A real shocker, that. Anyone that knows me knows that I am huge fan of Thrice and Dustin Kensrue. Worship albums aside, anything thing he releases with his band or by himself is bound to be a favorite for me. Please Come Home was a phenomenal debut that showed Kensrue could stand on his own as a singer and songwriter even as it got lost in the shuffle of albums in the “former hardcore/punk guy puts out acoustic album” mold. And now, all these years later, Carry the Fire outperforms its predecessor in nearly every category. The stellar songwriting remains but is now rounded out by more complex arrangements and forays into broader genres. The result is an album that feels like a true solo album rather than a record built out of some acoustic songs he used to play on his porch. Once again, I’m a big fan of Please Come Home and even danced to ‘Pistol’ at my wedding, but its that album feels like Diet Coke when compared to Carry the Fire. If Please Come Home is The Artist in the Ambulance, then Carry the Fire is Vheissu. Some people enjoy the simplicity of the former to the depth of the latter but this writer, while enjoying that simplicity, will choose the depth every time.
Special Mention: Waves by Moving Mountains. A random pick for my wildcard but hot damn if it’s not a stellar album. When Waves dropped in 2011 I enjoyed the record and was excited to see them open up for Thrice on one of the best line ups I can remember (O’ Brother, MovMou, La Dispute and Thrice). As much as I enjoyed the album, for whatever reason it didn’t really stick with me longer than a month or so. For reasons that would take too long to explain here, I decided to listen to it a few months ago and I was floored by how layered and complex the album is. There are the bangers of course (‘My Life is Like A Chase Dream’ and ‘Alleviate’) but the album has so much more to offer when given the time it deserves. My all-time favorite album is Vheissu and part of the reason why is that, even after hundreds (maybe thousands) of listens, there are still little things that I discover and appreciate on each playthrough that I hadn’t heard before. Waves has the same potential in that regard, especially when wearing a nice pair of headphones. And so, a challenge: if you are unfamiliar with Waves, or Moving Mountains in general, I challenge you put on a nice pair of headphones, turn the lights down low and listen for the xylophone during the intro of ‘The Cascade.’ You can thank me later.
- Dealer by Foxing. It was really tough to predict what path Foxing would go down after their amazingly well-written debut (which was, sadly, rendered almost unlistenable due to incredibly poor production). They took the mellow road. Songs like ‘Indica’ suggest that there may be – ahem – reasons for this. Maybe if they had songs titled ‘White Powder’ we would have been in for a more rocking affair, but Dealer moves ahead at a gentle pace. After my initial listen, I knew this album would grow on me but seeing its songs performed live definitely helped breathe life into many tracks such as ‘Redwoods’ and ‘Night Channels.’ Foxing’s live show took songs that I enjoyed and transformed them into moving overtures that I can’t help but return to time and time again. I also maintain that singer Conor Murphy is one of the most talented vocalists in the scene today. Witnessing the emotion he puts into his live performances will undoubtedly turn you into a fan of the band. Kudos, Foxing. You have followed through on the promise of The Albatross, and done so in spades.
- Another Flammarion Woodcut by Adjy. I’m often reticent to include EPs on ‘Best Of’ lists simply because they aren’t full releases (obvisously), let alone ones like Another Flammarion Woodcut which clocks in at 15 minutes and has only 2 songs. But hot damn, if I didn’t listen to this record as much as or more than any other album this year. Songs are delicately layered and full of vocal overdubs, xylophone, programming, piano and clean guitars. They come together with a combination of perfect songwriting and excellent production that propels these two songs ahead of all but three albums in 2015. This is no small feat. The opening track, ‘Hyperthymesia,’ sets the stage for the title track, a nine-minute epic that I have put on repeat on countless drives home. Too many lengthy epics fall into the trap of either stretching out parts for too long or just sounding like five songs smashed together with transitions. While ‘Another Flammarion Woodcut’ does contain a big shift around minute four, it works and builds back into what the song started out as. I’ll be eagerly awaiting pretty much anything Adjy does from this point forward.
- I Love You, Honeybear by Father John Misty. Here is a comprehensive the things I hate about this album: 1) Pretentious Band/Artist Name/Album Title; 2) Pitchfork adores it; 3) Way too much hype from the hipster community (see above); 4) Too much unnecessary swearing and purposely provocative talk. I’m not a prude by any means, but I hate vulgarity simply for its own sake. Bukowski is overrated; and 5) A singer with the swagger to say he is very aware that he is a ‘cool guy.’ All of those things aside, I hate that I love this album as much as I do. Its closest comparison in my mind is The Suburbs if it was written in the mid 1970s. The songs cover a wide stretch of musical landscape yet sound perfectly at home next to one another. ‘Bored in The USA’ is worth the price of admission alone; a perfect piano ballad that doubles as a scathing send up of modern American life (complete with sitcom laugh-track). It’s a song incredibly close to being buried by its own pretense, yet it comes off as incredibly moving. I begrudge how much I like this record for some reason, but I keep coming back to it time and time again. Father John Misty can write the shit out of a song.
- The Money Pit by The Money Pit. I loved Gatsbys American Dream and Volcano just might be one of the most perfect records to come out of the mid 2000s scene. So I was excited to hear that Bobby Darling and Nic Newsham – maybe the most sonically recognizeable members of GAD – were getting back together to make new music. And they came back with force on their debut. They eschew one of the main Gatsbys tropes, a lack of choruses, and instead craft pop songs full of standard song structure. This, however, does not detract from them essentially continuing where GAD left off but rather allows The Money Pit to go in a fresh new direction as well. Album opener, ‘I Want My Money Back,’ is a perfect opener with Newsham lamenting the onset of his thirties, feeling like the societal train has left him behind. It showcases just how good of a lyricist he is, and moreover, just how insanely talented he is with writing vocal melodies that fit like a glove within Darling’s frequently left-of-center guitar riffs. ‘Blackout’ is my favorite track on the record, the simple drum beat propelling the song forward into the arena-rock-fist-pumping stratosphere, while ‘Lawrence, KS’ has me wishing I had liner notes so I could memorize the complicated chorus and sing along perfectly in the car (I haven’t done this since I memorized the lyrics to ‘Loser’ in 1994). I feel like this album came and went in too many people’s minds, because it is fantastic. It was my number one album of the year. At least until…
- Harmlessness by The World Is A Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die. This album was the clear standout this year and, truth be told, it wasn’t that close. Harmlessness took everything that was solid about TWIABPAIANLATD’s debut and ditched everything that detracted from it (screaming, needless complexity, general avant-garde weirdness). The result is a rock record that soars to heights I never thought the band capable of. The amazing part of Harmlessness is that in spite of having upwards of eight band members, TWIABPAIANLATD knows exactly when to scale their sound back. This in turn emphasizes those moments when they unleash the fury of all members playing at once. The opening track, ‘You Can’t Live There Forever,’ showcases exactly this as it begins quietly with a guitar playing softly in the background for two whole minutes before slowly adding in vocal harmonies, strings, percussion and the rest of the band, swelling to a heated crescendo, before scaling it back again. The end result is an opener as good as any I’ve heard in recent memory. It’s then onto ‘January 10th, 2014′ which is the immediate standout not only due to its subject matter – a near legendary folk hero named Diana The Hunter who murdered two murderers in Juarez – but also due to the fact that it gallops along, changing pace at will, yet sounding incredibly cohesive. It’s the signal that TWIABP… have spent the last three years honing their craft. They have evolved out of the “emo-revival” label and into a legitimate powerhouse rock band. Even the seven and eight minute tracks that close the album seem far shorter than their play times due to the fact that they are so much fun to listen to. Harmlessness represents a collective of musicians, operating at the top of their game, who have released an amazing album.
Special Mention: Goo by Sonic Youth. I went through a phase this year. I decided to check out all those bands from the ’90s that I should have been into. Dinosaur Jr, Sebadoh, Slint and most importantly Sonic Youth. I don’t know why I always thought I didn’t like them or that they were too far out in left field for me, but I never even gave them a listen. This year I changed that. Goo is a seminal record that holds its ground in today’s musical landscape despite being released 25 years ago. Even more impressive is how easily you can hear Sonic Youth laying the ground work for Nirvana and the rest of grunge. It’s a timeless alternative record, and a new favorite of mine, even if I was a quarter century late to the party.