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Sonic Youth was an American rock band based in New York City, formed in 1981. Founding members Thurston Moore (guitar, vocals), Kim Gordon (bass, vocals, guitar) and Lee Ranaldo (guitar, vocals) remained together for the entire history of the band, while Steve Shelley (drums) followed a series of short-term drummers in 1985, rounding out the core line-up. Jim O'Rourke (guitar) was a member of the band from 1999 to 2005.

Sonic Youth emerged from the experimental no wave art and music scene in New York before evolving into a more conventional rock band and becoming the most prominent of the American noise rock groups. Sonic Youth have been praised for having "redefined what rock guitar could do"[1] using a wide variety of unorthodox guitar tunings and preparing guitars with objects like drum sticks and screwdrivers to alter the instruments' timbre. The band is considered to be a pivotal influence on the alternative and indie rock movements.

After gaining a large underground following and critical praise through releases with SST Records in the late 1980s, the band experienced mainstream success throughout the 1990s and 2000s after signing to major label DGC in 1990 and headlining the 1995 Lollapalooza festival. In 2011, Ranaldo announced that the band was "ending for a while" following the separation of married couple Gordon and Moore.[2] Thurston Moore updated and clarified the position in May 2014: "Sonic Youth is on hiatus. The band is a democracy of sorts, and as long as Kim and I are working out our situation, the band can't really function reasonably."[3] Gordon refers several times in her 2015 autobiography Girl in a Band to the band having "split up".


 

Excerpt from their wikipedia page. These guys have always been a top 3 band for me, their entire discography is riddled with great albums. If you've never listened to them,  Daydream Nation and Goo are great starting points. Daydream Nation is my all-time favorite album (yes above any official Zeppelin release) and is generally considered to be their greatest work. Goo is another great album and a little easier to get into if you've never heard their type of music before.

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Sonic Youth were amazing. There are many posts of mine here where I mention Sonic Youth but since the response was usually negative or nil, I never bothered to start a thread topic about them, figuring it would just be for an audience of one...me.

So I am happy to see another Sonic Youth fan here. I discovered them in 1983. I was with my girlfriend in Berlin for Halloween weekend in 1983. On October 29 we saw Einstürzende Neubauten. On October 30 we saw Sonic Youth. This was when Bob Bert was the drummer.

Still raw and unformed around the edges and the songs weren't quite there. But, my god, what a glorious unholy racket they made with their guitars. It was as if the sky had cracked open. And Kim Gordon had this sexy-nerd aura about her. This was long before she turned into the Goo-era Kool Goddess with the short skirts and go-go boots.

It wasn't until 1985's "Bad Moon Rising" that their albums started to gel into something more than random noise, in my opinion. Songs like "Death Valley '69" showed a marked improvement over their earlier albums. By this time I was back in Los Angeles and started seeing them every time they toured. Those SST years were incredible...watching them build up to their magnum opus "Daydream Nation".

That is still my favourite SY album. And while "Goo" has some great songs..."Tunic (Song for Karen)" being my favourite...it is a little uneven. I think "Dirty" is an even better introduction for Sonic Youth novices. The songcraft is tighter without losing the weird guitar tunings and soundscapes that people expected from the band. "Shoot" is a creepy masterpiece and "JC" (written for the late Joe Cole) is one of their most touching songs.

Their last truly great album was "Washing Machine" with the stupendous epic side-long "Diamond Sea".

Later albums would still have a few good tracks but also some filler and some duds. But they were always good in concert no matter the album. I saw them close to 30-40 times.

It all came crashing to an end when Thurston Moore cheated on Kim and they divorced and the band split up.

Thurston, Kim, Lee, and Steve each have their own solo projects and I still keep tabs on them. I just saw Kim a couple weeks ago. But I miss the band terribly.

Sonic Youth's music, via albums and in concert, is intertwined with many memorable times in my life.

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^ Wow, that's all reallllly fucking cool. I'd kill to have been able to see them back in the mid to late 80s, and it's not exactly easy to find boots of them either (other than the "official" bootlegs of course), but what I have heard from the era is nothing short of mind blowing. Nobody else was doing what they at the time, that's for sure. I'm only 18 and I got into them at 15, so of course I never had the chance to see them live. However, last year when they released that video commemorating Daydream Nation, I went to the screening and nearly met Steve Shelly. Wish I had bothered to talk to him, I was just too nervous. I've mostly followed Thurston's solo career but Lee's and Kim's are pretty great from what I've heard as well. Whenever any of them come to Philly they always seem to play at bars that are 21+, which is a huge bummer. 

I agree that Goo is a little uneven. My favorite song off the album would probably be "Disappearer" although I'm also a huge fan of "Mote" and "Titanium Expose". Of course that's kind of a given, I can count the songs I truly don't like by them on my left hand. Dirty and Washing Machine are phenomenal albums as well, although Dirty's wheels may have spun in the tracks at a few points. I have seen people refer to it as more accessible than Goo, but I've always been a little iffy on that. I think a typical grunge fan may find Dirty a nice easy listen, but if the alt rock style isn't as much your thing I think Goo has a more popish sensibility to it.

I would also say I think A Thousand Leaves deserves to be mentioned in their best albums. Even amongst their catalog of strange sounds and ideas, it's a total oddity with a very soothing sound. I love every second of that one, although I've seen much criticism of too much filler sometimes. Also Murray Street and Sonic Nurse are too great ones as well. I don't hold them in as high of regard as I used to, but I think they both feature some great jams and compositions. But each one did here and there until The Eternal. I'd still do anything to hear that those two buried the hatchet and would do one last tour. Alas, that's wishful thinking.

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^You're only 18? Damn. From your avatar name I thought you were born in June 1972 or maybe you first saw Led Zeppelin in June 1972, so I thought you were close to my age. 

Not only did you miss the SST years but you were even too young for the "Daydream Nation" 20th anniversary tour in 2008. Damn shame. But there are some good bootlegs out there. I have some Sonic Youth shows that I taped in 1998...the "A Thousand Leaves" tour. Unfortunately all the earlier SY shows I taped in 1987, '88, '90, '92 and '96 were stolen or lost over the years.

Speaking of "A Thousand Leaves", "Hoarfrost" is one of my top 10 SY songs of all time (Lee really knocked it out of the park with that song), so I have a soft spot for that album even though I think Kim's songs (which I usually like) are some of the weakest she ever wrote.

Now, if you haven't seen it yet keep an eye out for this music documentary called "Desolation Center". It's all about these crazy shows put on in the Mojave Desert in the early '80s. There is cool footage from the January 5, 1985 show where Sonic Youth, Meat Puppets, and Redd Kross played and everyone was on acid. I think SY even had to borrow the Meat Puppets' gear because someone had stolen all of SY's specially tuned guitars and amps. Here is the trailer...

 

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^ Ha, yes my username is simply because the NA '72 tour would be my favorite Zeppelin tour. With my taste in music and age I've unfortunately never seen almost any of my favorite acts in prime form or lineup (I believe the sole exception would be Dinosaur Jr. Saw em two years ago, they've aged but they put on one a helluva show).

Yeah, the last show SY ever played in Philly I would've been 8 years old for I think. It fucks with my head that I really just barely missed them. I digress, I still have plenty to listen to. 

I'd love to hear those tapes you have from the ATL tour if you have them uploaded. That's a damn shame that all of your earlier tapes are gone, they're holy grails to me. I would agree that A Thousand Leaves isn't exactly Kim's strongest album. French Tickler is a fantastic song, but her others can definitely be seen as hit or miss. Hoarfrost is definitely a great track, as is Karen Koltrane. Lee is a wonderful writer and those songs have a very nice icy vibe to them. Although personally I think Thurston steals the show on the album, Sunday, Wildflower Soul, and Hits of Sunshine are mind-blowing tracks, the latter two are probably in my top 15.

Desolation Center sounds awesome! I'm about to go look into that right now, I'm always looking for more footage of the band playing back then and this sounds very promising. I also love that version of Brother James they included in the trailer, I think I've seen that before but I could be delusional.

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