As a teenager, once I got over the total, utter, complete sell-out of Sonic Youth moving from legendary indie labels like Homestead and SST to undeniably major label Geffen in 1990, it was obvious pretty quickly that nothing had changed for the band. While my interest seemingly waned after Experimental Jetset, a quick scan through the back-catalogue reveals that I have inadvertently absorbed every major release - and none could be described as disappointing or flat. After releasing 9 albums with the label, Sonic Youth left Geffen in 2007, before pulling the typically left-field move of releasing a greatest hits exclusively through Starbucks, then self-re-released Master Dik and finally settling with Matador for the release of The Eternal.
While The Eternal is being promoted as something of a new chapter for the band, there's no need to reset your expectations - and you're certainly in no danger of being disappointed. Early single Sacred Trickster kicks things off, before the abrasive pummel of Anti-orgasm lets you know the band have lost none of their power - or their ability to craft a catchy tune. The sing-a-long style of Leaky Lifeboat (For Gregory Corso) sits comfortably alongside the screeching rock of Calming The Snake, making for a strangely cohesive record.
Jim O'Rourke may have departed in 2005, but the open slot in the line-up made room for former Pavement bassist Mark Ibold and his contribution is note worthy here, providing a focused spine through many of the songs that the guitars swirl closely around. The best songs on the album follow the same pattern that my Sonic favourites always did: a simmering, bubbling pot of sound that harnesses the power of a storm and takes its shape as a subtly catchy leviathan. Antenna, What We Know, Malibu Gas Station - there's more than a handful of excellent tracks on here that will disappoint no one.
While 2006's Rather Ripped and Thurston Moore's own solo album have arguably moved the band into a more conventionally structured sequence of songs, it's easy to forget how much the musical landscape has shifted since the band's early, pioneering albums of the 80s. The feedback drenched sounds of Sister or Daydream Nation are now considered essential listening - due to the popularity of the 90s alternative explosion that Sonic Youth helped enable. As a result, it's easy not to appreciate how radical a custom-tuned 9.43 minute closing track like Massage The History may have once seemed.
While the girls may be commenting how good Kim Gordon's legs are for a 56 year old, I'm just happy that the band have kept their ambition and refusal to conform. It may not be so much of a new chapter, but at least The Eternal is the continuing story of an old favourite.
9th Jun 2009 - Tumblr3.5
Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge
I'm Not There [Music From The Motion Picture]
(dir. Jeff Feuerzeig)
Queen Elizabeth Hall
Turn The Lights Out
Roots & Crowns
Stooges doc that is interesting by default, but dull given that Jim Jarmusch is behind the camera.
28th Apr 2017Read more 2.5 star reviews
Poingiant doc of the latest Bad Seeds album. Still falls into the usual making-of box.
26th Apr 2017Read more 3.5 star reviews
Stylish, thought-provoking indie contemplating the weighty responsibilities of parenthood.
22nd Apr 2017Read more 4 star reviews
Great 90s blockbuster, with Harrison Ford carrying the movie on top finger-wagging form.
18th Mar 2017Read more 5 star reviews
Accomplished character piece. Almost stretches itself a bit thin, but it's stylish enough to transcend.
18th Mar 2017Read more 4 star reviews
Dated indie classic that uses music to create pseudo-sentimental highs of little real substance.
18th Mar 2017Read more 3.5 star reviews
Engaging, nostalgic doc which meanders through the rise and rise of 1995’s greatest band ever.
14th Mar 2017Read more 3.5 star reviews
Quintessential Gus Van Zant. Great art direction, acting and photography. Possibly better with age.
7th Mar 2017Read more 4 star reviews
Confident indie comedy-thriller that pitches itself perfectly.
4th Mar 2017Read more 4 star reviews
Thoughtful character study, with Eddie Marsan standing up for those who slip through the cracks.
26th Feb 2017Read more 3.5 star reviews
Brutally fast paced meta-fest, backed up by the most sensible bat-plot for a long time.
16th Feb 2017Read more 4 star reviews
Tenuous financial hostage thriller, that doesn't add up to the sum of its parts.
11th Feb 2017Read more 3 star reviews
Disappointing punk rock horror thriller, that doesn't make the best of its left field set up.
9th Feb 2017Read more 3 star reviews
Potentially forgettable buddy cop pic, elevated by a killer script and live wire performances.
1st Feb 2017Read more 4.5 star reviews
Accomplished, charming NZ indie comedy that wears its influences well.
1st Feb 2017Read more 3.5 star reviews
The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made
Inspiring doc about the kids remaking Raiders over 7 summers.
24th Jan 2017Read more 3.5 star reviews
Eight Days a Week
Inspiring reminder of the sheer volume of trail blazing laid down by The Beatles.
22nd Jan 2017Read more 3.5 star reviews
Seminal kids movie that I underrated in '85. Shot with an easy pace, until the free-swim at the end.
Halliwell says: The bottomless pit of the Spielberg genre, a silly tale which takes forever to get going and is acted by children who have not studied elocution. The trick effects when they come are OK, but it's a long annoying haul to that point.
22nd Jan 2017Read more 3.5 star reviews
Glacially paced, pretentious arthouse fluff, that fritters away a potentially interesting set up.
21st Jan 2017Read more 2 star reviews
Unremarkable potboiler from Le Carre, with a disappointingly bland turn from Ewan McGregor.
17th Jan 2017Read more 2.5 star reviews
Small scale period drama, anchored around strong central performances.
15th Jan 2017Read more 3 star reviews
Ambitious small scale sci-fi that drags a bit before it all gets a bit wacky.
11th Jan 2017Read more 3 star reviews
Tarantino zeros in on the most-tedious-film-ever award. Someone get the guy a new editor.
7th Jan 2017Read more 2 star reviews
Inventive ensemble drama, as David O. Russell takes another shot at Scorsese's crown. Great soundtrack too.
7th Jan 2017Read more 4 star reviews
Dawn of Justice
Mind-boggling, convoluted actioner that seems to have been written by picking ideas out of a hat.
4th Jan 2017Read more 1 star reviews
Extended super hero punch up, not dissimilar to the news man brawls of 'Anchorman'.
1st Jan 2017Read more 2.5 star reviews
Seamless CGI remake, lacking in humour and executed with the seriousness of LOTR or Apocalypse Now.
30th Dec 2016Read more 3.5 star reviews
Text-book rom-com that rebooted the genre and set the template for the next 3 decades.
26th Dec 2016Read more 4.5 star reviews
Decent enough animated parable from Disney. Lacking the usual emotional Pixar punch.
25th Dec 2016Read more 3 star reviews
A Star Wars Story
Second viewing and it's still holding together well. The third act is incredible.
22nd Dec 2016Read more 4 star reviews
A STAR WARS STORY
Impeccable world building and a nail biting finale mark a solid expansion of the universe.
18th Dec 2016Read more 4 star reviews
Solid Cold War drama. Unfortunately lacking the impact of both Spielberg and Hanks' best.
18th Dec 2016Read more 3.5 star reviews
From 3 minutes in this was the best film I've seen in ages. Nostalgic indie sci-fi.
13th Dec 2016Read more 4 star reviews
Arkward and occasionally hilarious Duplass-esque LA comedy. And only 75m long.
26th Nov 2016Read more 3 star reviews
Worthy, watertight journo movie. Full of great performances, but staying well between the lines.
21st Nov 2016Read more 4 star reviews
Derivative, badly cast cops + robbers pic. A pale imitation of Heat, without the style or performances.
12th Nov 2016Read more 2.5 star reviews
Glacially paced re-hash/follow up to Dazed and Confused, with moments of fun. Great music.
11th Nov 2016Read more 3 star reviews
Stupid action movie that never stops winking at the audience.
4th Nov 2016Read more 2.5 star reviews
LA Confidential meets The Big Lebowski in the best way possible. Great turns from Reynolds and Crowe.
4th Nov 2016Read more 4 star reviews
A classic story and allstar cast, but John Sturges' vintage western seems slow and dated now.
2nd Nov 2016Read more 3.5 star reviews
Beard-heavy special ops bloodbath, with more than a passing nod to the equally impartial Black Hawk Down.
26th Oct 2016Read more 2 star reviews
Boring, meandering re-tread of The Departed. Wannabe Scorcese, with a typically OTT Johnny Depp.
19th Oct 2016Read more 3 star reviews
Smart-ass financial drama. OTT Bale, reasonable turn from Pitt, Reynolds steals the show.
2nd Oct 2016Read more 3.5 star reviews
Terrifying post-nuclear drama. Dated to the mood of its era, but still effectively realistic.
30th Sep 2016Read more 3.5 star reviews
Intense indie drama. Pacing is a little lopsided, but the sentiment and strong performances carry it through.
24th Sep 2016Read more 4 star reviews
Electrifying script, captivating performances and effortless, accomplished direction. Outstanding.
18th Sep 2016Read more 4.5 star reviews
It's only episode 2, but it's Dirty-Harry-by-numbers. Luckily those numbers still add up to something.
Halliwell says: Toned-down sequel to Dirty Harry; the violence is still there but the hero no longer commits it.
18th Sep 2016Read more 3.5 star reviews
Superior kids movie. ET meets King Kong. Bit slow, but ten times deeper than the wafer thin original.
1st Sep 2016Read more 3.5 star reviews
Half baked British thriller. Some decent ideas, but it's all a bit studenty.
28th Aug 2016Read more 2 star reviews