**** Making Your First Million

*** Saving A Life

** Volunteering

* Holding The Door



SONIC YOUTH
Sonic Nurse
DGC/Interscope

***

The best thing about the new Sonic Youth record is the sense it gives that some things can be counted on not to change. That doesn't mean that SY are stagnant. It just means their artistic trajectory is intact. If their 20-year career can be divided clearly into three phases--the scary noise avatar phase, the '87-'94 pop miscegenation phase, and now--the current era of mellow, jam-based songs is just as rewarding as their golden ages (if less culturally necessary).

As on their previous few LPs--not counting the instrumental SYR releases from a few years back--the songs and sounds on Sonic Nurse are clean and distinct, even in the noise freak-out sections, the better to hear the anxious energy of the now three-guitar interplay. Though the lyrics are thematically vague (many seem to circle around exploitative relationships) the playing is exemplary. I mean, it's Sonic Youth; what can one say? Drummer Steve Shelley is a complete force of nature. I'm still not crazy about Kim Gordon's non-whisper voice. I still prefer the Lee Ranaldo songs ("Paper Cup Exit" is the only one here). Thurston Moore is a guitar hero. I still don't know what Jim O'Rourke does in the band. It's a Sonic Youth record. It's not Daydream Nation or Sister, but it's pretty good. SEAN NELSON

NEUROSIS
The Eye of Every Storm
(Neurot)

The Eye of Every Storm is dark, but it isn't mind-numbingly morbid. It's heavy, but it isn't overly industrial. Musically, the band has written some of the most dramatic and exhaustive compositions to come from any crew ever tagged with the hardcore/metal label. There's an eerie feel to everything, with guitars and keyboards adding spooky layers that dance around the storm of the deeper bass and drums. It's the soundtrack for murder, deceit, and all things awful. It isn't comforting, something that's made apparent by the painful vocals. Throughout the record, singer Steve Von Till sounds like he's convincing someone to die, and it isn't pretty. MEGAN SELING

KID SPATULA
Meast
(Planet )

***

Kid Spatula's one of the many aliases for British IDM workhorse Mike Paradinas, who's best known as -Ziq and owner of Planet Records. Meast gathers 34 tracks recorded from 1994-'98, a fertile period during which Paradinas must've daily birthed two tracks by teatime. Despite an occasional weakness for teeth-rotting synth tones and tunes, Paradinas creates some of the most swoonworthy orchestrations and otherworldly, exotic atmospheres in electronic music (he's surprisingly funky, too). Meast flaunts these attributes, but the double disc's mainly for Paradinas completists who can't get enough of his zanily warped textures and fascinatingly finicky beat programming. The 140 minutes here reveal a workaholic so creative, he compels even with a 70 percent success rate. DAVE SEGAL