Sonic Youth is an American alternative rock band from New York City, formed in 1981. The current lineup consists of Thurston Moore (vocals and guitar), Kim Gordon (vocals, bass, guitar), Lee Ranaldo (vocals and guitar), Steve Shelley (drums) and Mark Ibold (bass, guitar). In their early career, Sonic Youth was associated with the No Wave art and music scene in New York City. Part of the first wave of American noise rock groups, the band carried out their interpretation of the hardcore punk ethos throughout the evolving American underground that focused more on the DIY ethic of the genre rather than its specific sound. As a result, some consider Sonic Youth as pivotal in the rise of the alternative rock and indie rock movements. Sonic Youth has expressed a wide variety of influences, ranging from the influential protopunk musician Patti Smith to composer John Cage. The band has been praised for using a wide variety of unorthodox guitar tunings and preparing guitars with objects like drum sticks and screwdrivers to alter the instrument’s timbre.
In 1981 Sonic Youth signed with Neutral Records, and released its eponymous debut EP “Sonic Youth” the next year. The band's first full-length album was “Confusion is Sex,” released in 1983. “Kill Yr Idols” was released the same year, under the German label Zensor Records.
“Bad Moon Rising” was released two years later on Blast First, a label created specifically for Sonic Youth releases. In 1986 Sonic Youth signed to SST Records and released “EVOL” later the same year. The album gained the band increasing critical acclaim and exposure, and the group released “Sister” and the double LP “Daydream Nation” in 1987 and 1988 respectively, the latter on Enigma Records.
In 1990 the band signed to major label Geffen Records, and released “Goo” the same year. “Goo” featured the single, “Kool Thing” which reached #7 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. The band's 1991 tour with the then little-known band Nirvana was documented in the film “1991: The Year Punk Broke.”
In 1992, Sonic Youth released “Dirty.” The album included the single, “100%” which peaked at #4 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart, becoming the bands only Top 5 single to date. Two years later, the group released “Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star,” which became their first Top 40 appearance on the Billboard 200 Albums charts and “Washing Machine” the following year.
Forced to start from scratch after its instruments and equipment were stolen, the band released “NYC Ghosts & Flowers” in 2000. Sonic Youth released “Murray Street” in the summer of 2002, followed in 2004 by “Sonic Nurse.”
“Rather Ripped” and “The Destroyed Room: B-sides and Rarities” were released in 2006, the latter featuring tracks previously available only on vinyl, limited-release compilations, B-sides to international singles, and other previously unreleased material.
In 2009 they released the studio album, “The Eternal,” which was their first release for Matador Records. The album reached #18 on the Billboard 200, their highest peak to date.