Sonic Youth

The Year Punk Broke

It's been 20 years since Nirvana's Nevermind was released, which means its also been 20 years since their meteoric rise to fame. It was during this time however that Nirvana were on tour with the band responsible for them signing to the major DGC label and featured them in the tour video, 'The Year Punk Broke" along side other such notable acts as Dinosaur Jr and Babes In Toyland. All of these bands owed, in some way, some debt to the headliner of the tour, Sonic Youth.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the tour documentary its being re-released later this year, but here is a quick guide to the real stars of the show.

Forming in 1981 and drawing influence from the no-wave scene happening in New York at that time, Sonic Youth would forge their own unique career path. Where contemporaries like REM had a far more traditional sound, Sonic Youth lent more towards the forward thinking punk leanings of Black Flag with out falling onto that genre either. Through forging their own musical soundscape they came up with 3 of the (possibly) most important indie records of the 80's and won themselves a legions of new fans, critical appraisal and even the backing of DGC.

So incase you've missed the last 30 years of Sonic Youth's career, here is a crash course in which record to go buy:

  Goo (1990)

This was their first record for a major label and managed to maintain the cathartic noise that made them popular to begin with whilst adding an almost 'pop' edge. This is easily their most accessible record.

  Daydream Nation (1988)

This album is regarded as the true masterpiece of sonic youth's work, perfectly showcasing their ability to switch from furious noise and feedback to a rhythmic indie song without ever letting up the pace.

  Evol (1986)

The first moves from the avant-garde and more towards rock. The first album with Steve Shelly on drums helping to add a new layer to the almost eerie feel of the album.

  Murray Street (2002)

Named after Sonic Youth's recording studio. This is the first album to feature Jim O'Rouke as a full time member. This album has a more psychedelic feel, focusing more on textures than noise.

  Confusion Is Sex (1983)

Sonic Youth's debut album is not something for the faint of heart, its a pretty hard listen especially for new comers to the band. But this is where it all started and its great to hear all the ideas that would later blossom.

So there you have it my top 5 Sonic Youth albums. Alternatively you could just purchase the new 'Hits' compilation, compiled by musicians and actors picking their favourite tracks (Including selections from Mike D, Eddie Vedder, Radiohead, David Cross and Chloe Sevigny among others). Hits Are For Squares will be out on the 26th of September.


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