THURSTON MOORE: THE BEST DAY
Thurston Moore must be in a good place now: he’s named his new record The Best Day! The last few years have been quite tumultuous for the former Sonic Youther; he has experienced the very public breakdown of his marriage to fellow band-mate Kim Gordon and in doing so has seen Sonic Youth come to an unfortunate end. In the wake of that misery Moore has kept himself busy with a variety of musical projects. Just last year he was touring in support of the excellent debut record he released as part of the band Chelsea Light Moving (the future of which is up in the air) and he also joined the black metal group, Twilight, contributing guitar to what wound up being their final album. Interestingly, Moore pulled a 180 on that collaboration a few months ago when he went on a very public tirade against the merits of black metal and its supporters.
All the negativity seems firmly behind Moore now though, as he has relocated to London to live with his new girlfriend and he has put together a new band for the expressed purpose of recording and touring The Best Day. The Thurston Moore Band has the same member breakdown as both Sonic Youth and Chelsea Light Moving: two guitars, drums and a female bass player. This time the band is an evenly split London/New York venture with Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley crossing the pond to play drums along side the bass playing of My Bloody Valentine’s Deb Googe and guitarist James Sedwards of the band Nought.
Clocking in at a combined nineteen minutes, “Speak To The Wild” and “Forevermore” open the album in typically guitar-centric fashion. At once thrilling and sprawling, these two tracks perfectly capture Moore and Sedwards’ ability to take a collage of riffs through a wormhole of beauty and menace only to have them end up right where they started. Moore has proven to be remarkably consistent as this style of songwriting dating back as far as SY’s Daydream Nation.
Like the opening two tracks on the album, the closing two follow similar routes of pure guitar bliss. “Grace Lake” and “Germs Burn” are ample fretboard workouts and perfect examples of why Moore’s work remains so exciting. “Germs Burn” is another in a line of references Moore has used over the years as an homage to early 80s L.A. punkers The Germs. You can hear these shout-outs to Darby Crash and Pat Smear in everything from Sonic Youth’s 1994 “Screaming Skull” all the way up to Chelsea Light Moving’s “Communist Eyes”.
Not to sound like a broken record, but it also on the title track and the volatile “Detonation” that Sedwards has taken to filling the role that Lee Ranaldo once held; and that is to spur and spar with Moore’s Jazzmaster in thoroughly compelling ways. Shelley and Googe play admirable support roles, acting as the songs’ spinal column and never coming off as showy.
God only knows what the future holds for Sonic Youth. Can Gordon and Moore put aside their personal differences for the sake of the band? Do they even care to at this point? It would be unfortunate to not get another chance to experience that band, or at the very least, to not give them an appropriate send-off salute for their pivotal and instrumental role in the evolution of alternative rock music. But though we mourn the possible passing of Sonic Youth, we must rejoice in the glory of the continued excellence of Thurston Moore’s solo material…he has remained relevant for long enough to inspire multiple generations of music fans to pick up a guitar and start exploring!
- Johnny Hooper