NME ARTISTS

Sonic Youth

Biography

Sonic Youth was an American alternative rock band from New York City, formed in 1981. Their most recent lineup consisted of Thurston Moore (guitar, vocals), Kim Gordon (bass guitar, vocals, guitar), Lee Ranaldo (guitar, vocals), Steve Shelley (drums) and Mark Ibold (guitar, 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.

The band experienced relative commercial success and critical acclaim throughout their existence, continuing partly into the new millennium, including signing to major label DGC in 1990 and headlining the 1995 Lollapalooza festival. Sonic Youth have been praised for having "redefined what rock guitar could do", 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 rock and indie rock movements.

In 1999 their music reached a new audience interested in 20th-century classical music and experimental music with the release of SYR4: Goodbye 20th Century, a double album of covers of avant-garde recordings that featured works by avant-garde classical composers such as John Cage, Yoko Ono, Steve Reich, Pauline Oliveros, George Maciunas, Cornelius Cardew, Nicolas Slonimsky and Christian Wolff as played by Sonic Youth along with several collaborators from the modern avant-garde music scene, such as Christian Marclay, William Winant, Wharton Tiers, Takehisa Kosugi and others.

In 2011, Ranaldo announced that the band was "ending for a while" following the separation of Moore and Gordon. 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 Kim and I are working out our situation, the band can't really function reasonably."

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