It's too bad that the position of "America's Oldest Teenager" is already occupied by Dick Clark, as Thurston Moore could give him a serious run at the throne. Granted, Moore's band Sonic Youth has always suggested an evergreen state tucked within its noise, but even in his intermittent solo career, the guitarist is enthralled by the restorative fountain-of-youth powers of punk rock.
It's been a dozen years since the release of Moore's first solo album, Psychic Hearts, but thematically, Trees Outside the Academy picks up as if no time had passed between the two. On opener "Frozen Gtr" he intones about that singular thrill when instruments get hit and "people everywhere feel your basement jam." "The Shape Is in a Trance" revisits the similar rush of an "abandoned bass amp blowing love to starlight dream/Boxes of blood plugged into an awesome sick machine." For all that talk about unfettered electricity, however, Moore plucks out these songs on an acoustic guitar, buoyed by the sawed violin of Samara Lubelski (ex–Hall of Fame and Tower Recordings) and longtime Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley. As on Hearts, Thurston gives shout-outs to his favorite female artists. The CD booklet contains a photo of a rail-thin Moore holding up Patti Smith's epochal Horses LP and a fanzine article he wrote about cow-punk singer Jayne County. Moore ends Academy with a weird tape recording made when he was just 13 revelling in the noise of spray cans and clanging coins, proving that despite pushing fifty, he's still giddy about that "awesome sick" sound.