Monday, April 20, 2009

Beck / Sonic Youth split 7" - Record Store Day

So I heard about all these exclusive releases from Matador and all the email's from every record store announcing Record Store Day. I thought I might be missing out in one I checked with was a part of this except Permanent Records, thank god, where people were actually waiting outside the store for it to open. There were two boxes of brand new singles...everything I'd been hearing about, including this split single from Beck and sonic youth, or should I say Sonik You*h, covering each other.

Sonic Youth covers 'Pay No Mind', one of the classic Beck tracks from Mellow Gold. It starts out with their trademark looping distortion which changes when Kim Gordon's sultry whisper kicks in. She's backed by Thurston or Lee, I think, both giving their own melodic take on the stream of consciousness... a little out of sync and tune. The crunchy distortion changes key and then a slow tom beat finishes the chorus. Then the time signature completely changes, rounds of fast tom fills ending in piercing feedback and then they repeat the whole thing ending in a wave of reverb feedback. It's perfect Sonic Youth, their amazing take on this insanely recognizable song, that's almost impossible to separate from the original. Sonic Youth does it, and in a totally original way. Lyrically they even make complete deliberate sense. Not enough credit is given to Steve for ever providing the perfect rhythm, keeping everything always together, a little something to hold onto in Sonic Youth's world, keeping Thurston's experimentalism accessible, but unexpected as this cover illustrates perfectly.
It's amazing this was recorded 3 months ago in what must be their new digs in NJ.

Becks cover of 'Green Light' is pretty old school acoustic Beck, I don't recognize the original from EVOL, so he's doing a pretty good job making it his own as well. You can hear him sitting on a stool adjusting the acoustic, hitting it with a hollow thump. He's focused on the vocal delivery, singing it with all kinds of inflection, unlike Thurston's mumbled deadpan. He's actually got a great voice when he wants to. The melody line on an acoustic is accompanied by what I think is a harpsichord, lending a weird harmonic to the single string acoustic picks, giving it a Sonic Youth dissonance alongside beck's own slightly off stuttered strumming. I could use more of this, it's a throwback to the Pay No Mind days and brings it back around to replaying the B-side Sonic Youth cover. Actually they are both labeled B-side...even in the gutter.

These MP3's are ripped and out there already with a couple of google searches, so if you missed out, they are pretty easy to find.

This whole thing brings up something I'm torn about, all of this record store day stuff is on ebay of course, for way inflated it now's for 29.99, 49.99. Hopefully not for sale from the record stores themselves, but they can't always on the up and up. I was tempted to pick up extra copies myself, but if I happened to be a little late and some asshole ahead of me had a stack of the same single I'd be pissed. I wasn't going to be that dick. At the same time maybe you are giving an opportunity for someone who couldn't make it to the store that day for whatever reason to get one, even if it is at an inflated price. I could imagine being sick or out of the country and being so glad to even come across a copy for sale on ebay. I just think you have to use some judgement. I just can't live with myself being such a son of a bitch opportunist. But if you are...well I can't fault that either. You went to the store, maybe waited in line, so sell it to someone who really want's it, and has no other way to get it.

It actually was briefly for sale on Becks merch site too, for about a minute.

In honor the 2nd annual Record Store Day, we’ll be releasing the following limited edition vinyl titles, only available at independent retailers taking part in RSD.

OLE-864-7 Jay Reatard “Hang Them All” 7″ b/w Sonic Youth - “No Garage”
OLE-865-7 Sonic Youth - “Pay No Mind” (Beck cover) b/w Beck - “Green Light” (Sonic Youth cover) 7″
OLE-855-1 Pavement Live In Germany LP

We’re making 2500 each of the above. After they’re gone, as the Bard Of Hookset, NH might’ve said (if he collected records), tough fuckin’ shit.

I heard there were color copies of these thrown in, I got one on black.


  1. that is definitely Lee Ranaldo doing the backing vocals. Very lucky to get a copy of this, Canada was only reserved 100 copies. Seriously, 100 copies!! I work in a record store and even we didn't get any. Had to call in a favor to another record store. Next year the labels really need to get their shit together if they wanna release a bunch of limited singles. Apparently there were dozens of other things that were supposed to be released that day but never made it to the stores.

  2. Mark,
    I thought I heard there was trouble getting them overseas in the Rough Trade shop...but Canada! That sucks...I figured Matador would just take care of the stores that were part of their regular customer base. It seemed like a bunch of different labels releasing stuff, so I'm sure it can't all come together.
    I heard of other singles from mailing lists that weren't at the place near me in Brooklyn, but I'm just glad I didn't miss out entirely. I couldn't find anywhere participating in this...or admitting they were.