Sonic Youth (DGC 24485)
Anyone who thinks Ross Perot's candidacy represented the full range of political disaffection in America today obviously hasn't been listening to Sonic Youth's new album, "Dirty." It isn't just that its songs are angry and edgy, topping dense squalls of guitar noise with snarling, in-your-face lyrics; the real power here stems from the Youth's steely determination, a not-gonna-take-it insistence that adds realism and resonance to every track. And that's as true of the searing social commentary on "Swimsuit Issue" (about sexual harassment) or "Shoot" (about the right to choose) as it is of such pointedly political material as "Chapel Hill" (about Jesse Helms) or "Youth Against Fascism" (about politics as usual).
THIS ONE'S GONNA HURT YOU
Marty Stuart (MCA 10596)
Even though it sometimes seems that modernization is pushing country music further and further from its roots, it doesn't have to be that way. For instance, Marty Stuart's "This One's Gonna Hurt You" opens with a song that borrows its basic riff from "I'm a Man," invokes the Stones' "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and even includes some rap-style sampling. Yet Stuart uses those tricks not to sneak onto the pop charts, but to transport himself and his fans to hillbilly heaven. And it works, too -- in part because Stuart has as much heart as he has audacity, but mostly because he's able to evoke the length and breadth of true country music, from the moaning pedal steel on "Just Between You and Me" to the lonesome harmonies of "High On a Mountain Top." This one's gonna bowl you over.