Sonic Youth – Teenage Riot


The lead track from Daydream Nation, considered by many (but not by me*) to be Sonic Youth’s finest album.

I’d just turned 21 when this came out in October 1988. I wasn’t a teenager. But neither were Sonic Youth. In fact, they were suspiciously old.

They were in their early thirties. Teenage Riot indeed.


It’s an absolutely glorious slab of punk pop. Like a cross between New Order and The Ramones. But better than both.


I love the way that it starts: all the elements – all the instruments – coming together and warming up, before launching full on into the song.

It’s the way that everything kind of crashes and is kind of loose but somehow manages to stay together. It rolls and thunders and stops and starts and stubbornly refuses to turn itself into an anthem.

But it is an anthem. It’s just that it’s not Bruce Springsteen or Nirvana.

Which could be all the recommendation you need.

This is driving music for arty New York hipsters by arty New York hipsters. Driving music, essentially, for people who don’t drive.

As with You Trip Me Up, I used to play this song full blast through the headphones. I wanted it to carry me away somewhere. To New York, to loft apartments and to poetry birds.

It’s got that feel about it. The feel of potential and energy and hope and youth.

All that bollocks.

All that glorious rock and roll bollocks.

(Great video too. Sonic Youth and some of their heroes. Look out for Mark E Smith around 1:10.)

* The best Sonic Youth album is Bad Moon Rising, from 1985.


About Paul Saxton

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One Response to Sonic Youth – Teenage Riot

  1. Nick says:

    I think it’s probably Sister for me. Very difficult, because they seem to not quite overlap the albums so they all have a distincy personality, from dissonance right through to pop tones and back again…

    and as you say all that (glorious rock and roll) bollocks.

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