Sonic Youth—under the counter, over the top.

SONIC YOUTH TRIES TO START fires in a field of corn. Their name is pure corn; their new signature tune, “Expressway to Yr. Skull,” combines corny punk misogyny with ’60s psychedelia, and nothing could be cornier than that—when I first heard the song, the words drowned in nightclub acoustics, I thought it might be a cover of the Amboy Dukes’ 1968 Korn Klassic, “Journey to the Center of the Mind.” The way “Expressway” trails out of a noise rave-up with quiet feedback drifting into silence is as corny as the surge of suspense music when the detective stumbles on the body in a third-rate murder movie.

Rather than trying to lead an audience into a suspension of disbelief, cornball artists who get their own joke hope everyone will play along, or anyway enjoy the joke, which suggests that successful corn involves a suspension of embarrassment, or else a revel in it. Cornballs who don’t get the

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