Sometimes all I feel like listening to is Sonic Youth. Curiously enough, they’re the only band that I never get sick of and I never realized before why this was. This afternoon it finally dawned on me. Sonic Youth is Picasso. They’re really good musicians that choose not to play standard music. Thurston Moore can whip up a bluesy solo driven by pentatonics without blinking. Just as Pablo had the ability to sketch with fantastic realism, Kim Gordon has the ability to sing in standard rock keys with standard rock melodies. Yet, instead of subscribing to inhibiting standards, Sonic Youth has consistently broken the rules in ways Lou Reed never dreamed. Sure, Yoko Ono may have come close in some esteems, but she could never “really” play in the first place. Without the ability to reflect your idols and cohorts one cannot dismiss them. The depth of Sonic Youth only exists because they quite literally transcend their idols.

The Sonic Youth quandary is the main ingredient that is missing from every top 10 list Pitchfork has released since the magazines inception. Pick any “next big thing”, they haven’t anything on Sonic Youth. Today’s fad is in imitation. Well, maybe not imitation per se, but imitation is at the root, then some conscience hip stuff is thrown in to “reinvent” what was already pretty damned good in the first place. Look at Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (Talking Heads), Interpol (Joy Division), Postal Service (Pet Shop Boys). That whole “freak folk” fad (also termed “New Weird America” with examples being Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom, and CocoRosie) that’s taking the hipsters by storm is made up entirely from imitations of Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I really enjoy a lot of these artists but I’m discouraged when I realize most fall flat with repeat listens. There’s just no substance beyond exploitation and imitation. On top of that, a lot of these “artists” are pretentious bastards that feel just because they were the first one to re-re-rediscover some obscure Jimmy Reed b-side and then re-re-rerecord it with their home ProTools setup they’re entitled to something more than a nod of trivial appreciation (OK, that might have been a complaint).

I don’t know what I’m expecting. A Sonic Youth only comes around once in a long while. It’s just frustrating to constantly hear puffy words from over-enthused bloggers about Arcade Fire, Arctic Monkeys, Wolf Parade, or whoever else. It’s always the same claims about how The Hold Steady or Black Rebel Motorcycle Club will, “change your life.” All these bands are really good and most put on very entertaining shows, but I just can’t get into their music past the point of vague passive interest. But eh, what do I know.