''Sonic Youth'' was a legendary NoiseRock / AlternativeRock band known chiefly for its noisy, experimental avant-garde tendencies and extensive use of prepared guitars, unorthodox tunings, heavy distortion, and feedback in their songs. They've been a significant influence on Alternative Rock in TheEighties and were a key influence on Music/MyBloodyValentine and, by extension, the entire {{Shoegazing}} movement. Formed in 1981 in UsefulNotes/NewYorkCity, their final lineup was as follows:

* Thurston Moore - Guitar, vocals
* Lee Ranaldo - Guitar, vocals
* Kim Gordon - Bass, vocals, nowadays guitar
* Steve Shelley - Drums (1985-2011)
* [[Music/{{Pavement}} Mark Ibold]] - Bass (2006-2011)

Past members include:

* Richard Edson - Drums (1981-1982); left the band for an acting career, [[HeAlsoDid better known as]] Vito from ''Film/DoTheRightThing.''
* Bob Bert - Drums (1982-1983, 1983-1985);
* Jim Sclavunos - Drums (1983); played on the ''Confusion is Sex'' album
* Jim O'Rourke - Guitar, bass, synthesizer (2000-2005)
* Anne [=De=]Marinis - Keyboards (1981-1982); left before the band ever recorded anything, making her Sonic Youth's very own [[ThePeteBest Pete Best.]]

Thurston's explanation for the name is that it's a combination of Music/{{MC5}} guitarist Fred "Sonic" Smith's nickname and the tendency of contemporary reggae acts to include "Youth" in their names (such as "Big Youth"). The "youth" part has kind of become bitterly ironic since Thurston, Kim, and Lee are in their fifties now, with Shelley and Ibold (the youngest members) not far behind. In a magazine interview, Bob Mould of Music/HuskerDu fame remarked (at least ten years ago) that "Old Youth" would be a more appropriate name. The song "Granny Cool" -- by his other former band, ''Sugar'' -- is probably a TakeThat aimed at Kim Gordon. Mould apparently regards Sonic Youth as pampered and overexposed; however, he's more or less [[HypocriticalHumor the same age as Sonic Youth's core members, and he too]] continues to release rock recordings.

Drawing on a wide variety of influences ranging from proto-punk acts like Music/TheStooges and the Music/VelvetUnderground and HardcorePunk to avant-garde musicians Glenn Branca, Rhys Chatham, and Music/JohnCage, Sonic Youth's early career was spent largely being a SensoryAbuse NoiseRock band and struggling with lack of recognition and cycling through a succession of drummers. Notably, the band sparred with music critic Robert Christgau over a dismissive review (renaming their song "Kill Yr Idols" to "I Killed Christgau with My Big Fucking Dick" in concert), had a disastrous debut in UsefulNotes/{{London}} ending in instrument destruction ([[NoSuchThingAsBadPublicity which paradoxically got rave reviews]]) and released a mediocre debut suffering from horrible production, ''Confusion is Sex,'' that hardcore fans love but everybody else tends to ignore.

Starting with 1984-1985, the band managed to sort out their career, finally obtaining a permanent drummer with Steve Shelley of The Crucifucks (whose hyperactive style fit the group very well indeed), getting {{Record Producer}}s with actual ears to work on their albums and toning down their extreme TrueArt-iness in favour of a middle ground between avant-garde noise and energetic Alternative Rock. With albums like ''Bad Moon Rising,'' ''EVOL,'' ''Sister,'' and its universally acclaimed double album ''Daydream Nation,'' the band refined its SignatureStyle, striking the perfect balance between arty, experimental Noise Rock and accessible, catchy Alternative Rock. Thurston and Kim also got married in this period and remained together until late 2011. However, not all was fun and games: The band suffered from distribution and payment issues from its indie record labels, Homestead, SST and Enigma -- Thurston had some particular choice words for Enigma, deriding it as a "cheap-jack Mafioso outfit" and trashing them over their difficulty in supplying ''Daydream Nation'' to stores.

Sick of being jerked around by distribution deficient indie labels, ''Sonic Youth'' jumped ship and signed on to Creator/GeffenRecords' sublabel DGC in 1990. Their first album for Geffen DGC, ''Goo'', represented a concentrated blast of alt-rock noise, and accordingly sold better than previous albums and spawned the band's biggest hit: "Kool Thing." In the same year, Kim's staunch support persuaded Geffen to also bring on board devoted Sonic Youth fans Music/{{Nirvana}}, making them indirectly responsible for the popularisation of {{Grunge}} in TheNineties. Nirvana and Sonic Youth quickly became friends too (Sonic Youth's ''Whores Moaning'' EP was a blatant ShoutOut to Nirvana's ''Hormoaning,'' and its cover showed one of Music/KurtCobain's toys). Their follow-up, ''Dirty,'' was produced by Butch Vig and engineered by Andy Wallace (the guys behind ''Music/{{Nevermind}}'') and also proved to be a decent success.

Many fans predictably whined ItsPopularNowItSucks after Sonic Youth went to a major label and gradually began abandoning the band in droves. This didn't initially affect their popularity much, as the band managed to pump out more successful albums and underwent a stylistic evolution starting with ''Washing Machine,'' abandoning their PunkRock roots and indulging more freely in [[EpicRocking long]] noise jams. Kim also began playing guitar more often and eventually abandoned the bass entirely. They also found enough free time to release experimental records on their SYR label and collaborate with experimental noise musicians such as John Cage, Music/YokoOno, Steve Reich, Christian Marclay, and Mission of Burma.

''Sonic Youth'' hit a ''huge'' speedbump when all of their instruments, amps, and gear were stolen on July 4, 1999 during their tour and their new album ''NYC Ghosts & Flowers'' quickly got a massive panning due to its self-indulgent jamming and pretentious, humourless, {{Narm}}y lyrics. However, they managed to recover quickly through the addition of new member Jim O'Rourke and releasing ''Murray Street,'' which was roundly hailed as a return to form. Most of their material since has been more accessible and melodic, with the avant-garde freakouts reserved for the SYR releases. Ever since, they've recovered their stolen gear, lost O'Rourke in 2005, recruited former Music/{{Pavement}} bassist Mark Ibold in 2006 and left Geffen in 2008, moving to indie label Matador Records. In 2011, Moore and Gordon divorced, and the band went on hiatus shortly afterward.

!! Discography:

* 1982 - ''Sonic Youth'' EP
* 1983 - ''Confusion is Sex'' (Bundled together with the ''Kill Yr Idols'' EP on re-release by Geffen)
* 1985 - ''Bad Moon Rising''
* 1986 - ''EVOL''
* 1987 - ''Sister''
* 1987 - ''Master-Dik'' EP
* 1988 - ''Music/DaydreamNation'' (Double album, considered their masterpiece)
* 1988 - ''The Whitey Album'' (released as Ciccone Youth, a parody of pop and alternative rap with tongue in cheek covers of "Into the Groove" by Music/{{Madonna}} and "Addicted to Love" by Robert Palmer)
* 1990 - ''Goo'' (First album released on a major label)
* 1992 - ''Dirty''
* 1993 - ''Whores Moaning'' EP (An attempt to out-{{Pun}} Music/{{Nirvana}}'s ''Hormoaning'')
* 1994 - ''Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star''
* 1994 - ''TV Shit'' (Recorded with Yamatsuka Eye)
* 1995 - ''Washing Machine''
* 1995 - ''Screaming Fields of Sonic Love'' (Compilation of material up to ''Daydream Nation'')
* 1995 - ''Made in USA'' (Soundtrack recorded in 1986, released in 1995)
* 1998 - ''A Thousand Leaves''
* 1998 - ''Silver Session for Jason Knuth'' EP (Its name is a tribute to a ''Sonic Youth'' fan who committed suicide)
* 2000 - ''NYC Ghosts & Flowers''
* 2002 - ''Murray Street''
* 2002 - ''In the Fishtank 9'' EP (Recorded with Music/TheEx)
* 2004 - ''Sonic Nurse''
* 2006 - ''Rather Ripped''
* 2006 - ''The Destroyed Room: B-sides and Rarities'' (Compilation)
* 2009 - ''The Eternal'' (First album after returning to an indie label)

Sonic Youth Recordings series:

* 1997 - ''[=SYR1=]: Anagrama''
* 1997 - ''[=SYR2=]: Slaapkamers Met Slagroom''
* 1998 - ''[=SYR3=]: Invito Al Ĉielo''
* 1999 - ''[=SYR4=]: Goodbye 20th Century'' (Double album of covers)
* 2000 - ''[=SYR5=]''
* 2005 - ''[=SYR6=]: Koncertas Stan Brakhage Prisiminimui'' (Live recording)
* 2008 - ''[=SYR7=]: J'accuse Ted Hughes''
* 2008 - ''[=SYR8=]: Andre Sider Af Sonic Youth'' (Live recording from the Roskilde festival with Music/{{Merzbow}})
* 2011 - ''[=SYR9=]: Simon Werner a Disparu'' (Soundtrack for the French film ''[[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin Simon Werner a Disparu]]'')

In 2011, the band announced they were taking an indefinite hiatus following the divorce of [[CreatorCouple Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon.]]

!! "Confusion is Tropes:"

* AlbumTitleDrop: ''Daydream Nation'''s title comes from the line "Daydreaming days in a daydream nation", from the "Hyperstation" section of the suite which closes the recording, "Trilogy".
* AllGirlsWantBadBoys: "Unmade Bed".
* AlliterativeTitle: ''Rather Ripped''.
* AuthorAppeal: Kim likes writing songs about Karen Carpenter, for some reason.
** Lee and beat poetry.
* AwesomeMcCoolName: Thurston Moore is a pretty badass name.
* BangingPotsAndPans: Referenced in "Youth Against Fascism".
* CanonDisContinuity: ''Sonic Youth'', and ''Confusion is Sex'' and ''NYC Ghosts & Flowers'' are this as well.
** That said, each has at least one MomentOfAwesome; "The Burning Spear" and "Shaking Hell", in particular are classic Sonic Youth. Even ''NYC Ghosts & Flowers'' has the [[TearJerker unbelievably sad]] title song.
* CaptainObvious: During the chorus of "Total Trash", Thurston finds it necessary to point out that "it's a natural fact that I'm not no cow".
* CarefulWithThatAxe: "Death Valley '69".
* CoverVersion: "I Wanna Be Your Dog" by Music/TheStooges, "Bubblegum" by Kim Fowley, "Hot Wire My Heart" by Crime, "Nic Fit" by The Untouchables, "Into the Groove" by Madonna, "Addicted to Love" by Robert Palmer, "Within You Without You" for a [[Music/TheBeatles Beatles]] tribute album, "Electricity" for a Music/CaptainBeefheart tribute album, "Superstar" for a Music/{{Carpenters}} tribute album, "Touch Me I'm Sick" for a split single with Music/{{Mudhoney}} and the entire ''[=SYR4=]'' album.
** TheCoverChangesTheMeaning: "Superstar".
* ClumsyCopyrightCensorship: The artwork to ''Sister'' was a series of photo collages, which included some copyrighted material. Thus the front and back covers have big black bars over the offending pictures. A recent reissue at least replaced the black bar on the back with something more subtle -- A conveniently placed bar code that only partially covers it up.
* CulturalCrossReference: The school level in ''VideoGame/SilentHill1'' has a list of teachers which says "K. Gordon, T. Moore, L. Ranaldo, S. Shelley". ''VideoGame/SilentHill3'' expands on Gordon's relation to the main characters -- sadly, it's a completely different character with just the NamesTheSame. Also, the name of the main character Renton Thurston from ''Anime/EurekaSeven'' is a combination of Renton from ''Literature/{{Trainspotting}}'' and Thurston Moore.
* CoolBigSis: Kim was a big sister figure of sorts to Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, whom she helped get signed to DGC.
* EarlyInstallmentWeirdness: Their self-titled debut EP has much less of the guitar noise you'd expect from them; it's also the only Sonic Youth release where most songs are in standard tuning. Furthermore, before Steve Shelley joined on ''[=EVOL=]'', their sound was much closer to their no wave influences.
* EpicRocking: "Expressway to Yr. Skull", "Teen Age Riot", "The Sprawl", "'Cross the Breeze", "Trilogy", "Tunic (Song for Karen)", "Washing Machine", "The Diamond Sea" (both versions), "Female Mechanic Now on Duty", "Wildflower Soul", "Hits of Sunshine (for Allen Ginsberg)", "Karen Koltrane", "Free City Rhymes", "[=StreamXSonik=] Subway", "NYC Ghosts & Flowers", "Disconnection Notice", "Rain on Tin", "Karen Revisited", "Sympathy for the Strawberry", "The Dripping Dream", "I Love You Golden Blue", "Massage the History", and so on.
* GriefSong: Gordon and Moore respectively wrote "JC" and "100%" about friend and roadie Joe Cole after his never-solved murder.
* HappilyMarried: Thurston and Kim ([[http://pitchfork.com/news/44318-kim-gordon-thurston-moore-separate/ well until 2011 anyway]]), Lee and his wife Leah.
* HugeGuyTinyGirl: The 6"6" Moore is a foot taller than Kim
* IncrediblyLamePun: ''Master-Dik'', ''Whores Moaning'', ''The Whitey Album'', "Society Is A Hole" (a play on the phrase "society as a whole").
** Actually, "dik" is the Dutch word for fat; most of the ''Master=Dik'' EP was recorded for radio in Amsterdam. Which makes the song/album title a very weird BilingualBonus.
* IntentionallyAwkwardTitle: In their early years, they were sometimes billed as Fucking Youth.
* InTheStyleOf: "Eliminator Jr." tries to sound like Music/ZZTop.
* LastNoteNightmare: "Becuz Coda".
** On some level, "The Diamond Sea", which begins as one of the band's prettiest songs and slowly devolves into an epic-length noise jam. Terrifying for the uninitiated.
** The transition in "Freezer Burn/I Wanna Be Yr Dog".
* LiteraryAllusionTitle: "The Sprawl" and "Pattern Recognition" are Creator/WilliamGibson references.
* LongRunnerLineUp: Their four-piece line-up of Thurston, Kim, Lee and Steve lasted fifteen years, from 1985 to 2000. After that, they gained Jim O'Rourke and later Mark Ibold, but kept their four "core" members.
* MohsScaleOfRockAndMetalHardness: ALL OVER THE FREAKING PLACE. Seriously, they've done everything from 1-10 and even bordered on 11 at times due to sheer noisiness and chaos. However, as a general rule, 5-7 is more typical- as typical as Sonic Youth ever get, anyways.
* MundaneMadeAwesome: "Take a walk in the park? SHIT YEAH!" from "Eliminator, Jr."
* NewSoundAlbum: ''Bad Moon Rising'', ''EVOL'', ''Goo'', ''Washing Machine'', ''Murray Street''.
** They changed their sound somewhat on each of those, but none is an extremely radical departure- more a case of a each representing a subtle refinement and slight reshuffling of their sound rather than a full-out, abrupt change.
* NoTitle: The ninth track of ''Washing Machine'' is officially untitled -- the back cover track-listing doesn't even ''include'' a track 9, going straight from 8 to 10. It's usually referred to as "Becuz Coda", due to being a reprise of (and the originally intended ending to) the album's opening track, "Becuz".
* NonindicativeName: They are called ''Sonic Youth'' even though many band members are in their mid to late fifties.
* OneWomanSong: "Reena", "Helen Lundeberg", "Marilyn Moore", "Mary Christ", "Sugar Kane".
* PerishingAltRockVoice: Every. Single. Song.
** Maybe on later albums. Not so much their earlier albums.
* PissTakeRap: "Master-Dik", "Into the Groovey".
* PunctuatedForEmphasis: The final lyrics of "Pipeline/Kill Time" are an almost-whispered "We. Should. Kill. Time."
* RapidFireNo: The chorus of "No Queen Blues".
* RockMeAsmodeus: Averted. See "Satan Is Boring".
* SelfTitledAlbum
* ShoutOut: Frequent in their songs, both in titles and lyrics -- "Hey Joni", "Marilyn Moore", "Expressway to Yr. Skull"'s alternate title "Madonna, Sean and Me", "Master-Dik", "Teenage Riot" (a humorous jab at J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr's reputation for laziness), "Tunic (Song for Karen)", "My Friend Goo", "Hits of Sunshine (for Allen Ginsberg)", "Karen Koltrane", "Mariah Carey and the Arthur Doyle Hand Cream" (it had its title changed to "Kim Gordon and..." for legal purposes), "New Hampshire" (the Steve and Joe mentioned are the guys from Music/{{Aerosmith}}), "Leaky Lifeboat (for Gregory Corso)", "Thunderclap (for Bobby Pyn)", "Eliminator Jr" (meant as a nod to Music/ZZTop's ''Eliminator'' and Music/DinosaurJr).
* SomethingBlues: "Winner's Blues" and "No Queen Blues".
* SpokenWordInMusic: "Providence", a song where the only vocals are a message [[TheMinutemen Mike Watt]] left on Thurston Moore's answering machine.
* StepUpToTheMic: Lee sings noticeably fewer songs than Thurston and Kim, usually only singing lead vocals on one or two songs per album.
* SubduedSection
* SurprisinglyGentleSong: ''Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star'' opens with "Winner's Blues," a solo acoustic song by Thurston.
* TakeThat: "Youth Against Fascism" is 3 and a half minutes of Thurston insulting UsefulNotes/GeorgeHWBush (''Yeah, the president sucks/He's a war pig fuck/His shit's out of luck'' etc. etc.), "Kim Gordon and the Arthur Doyle Hand Cream" lampoons MariahCarey, "Peace Attack" is a mellower but still pretty ripshit pissed indictment of UsefulNotes/GeorgeWBush. "I Killed Christgau With My Big Fucking Dick" is self-explanatory.
** "Youth Against Fascism" is more of a TakeThat to political rock songs that were so prevalent at the time with most of the bands not even knowing what they're protesting.
*** Those not recognizing it as a piss take: either they didn't pay attention to the refrain, or over-applied [[WildMassGuessing WMG]] to make it mean whatever they hoped it meant. Self-explanatory, though:
--> It's the song I hate \\
It's the song I hate
** Thurston still sneaks in an actual TakeThat:
--> I believe Anita Hill\\
The judge'll rot in hell!
** "Swimsuit Issue" is one to [[CasanovaWannabe a rather loathsome former Geffen employee]]; "The Ineffable Me" is similar in subject.
** "Kool Thing" was a TakeThat directed at ''Music/LLCoolJ'' (of all people), apparently prompted by an interview Kim Gordon had with him.
** For those who were wondering, Robert Christgau and Thurston Moore have since sorted out their differences and made up. Christgau even gave ''A Thousand Leaves'' an A+, his highest rating.
** Then there's their "cover" of Music/YokoOno's "Voice Piece For Soprano", which is just the newborn Coco Gordon-Moore mewling for a few seconds. This could also be considered AffectionateParody; Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore would later collaborate with Yoko Ono on the album ''Yokokimthurston'', and Moore called one of his solo songs "Ono Soul" as a ShoutOut.
* TwoFirstNames: Kim Gordon and Steve Shelley. Lee Ranaldo arguably applies, as the given name is pronounced the same, but spelled "Renaldo".
* VocalTagTeam: Aside from a few exceptions, the vocals tend to be done by whoever wrote the lyrics, giving the band three different lead singers.
* WhoNamesTheirKidDude: Gibby Haynes of the Music/ButtholeSurfers loved to mock Thurston for this, saying at one point "Did you have an actual mom?". Thurston and Kim also may possibly qualify, since they named their daughter Coco Hayley Gordon Moore.
* WordSaladLyrics: Especially prominent on songs where Lee sings, with lines like "He's a steel drum wedding ring Pontiac doorknob ten" and "She's a beautiful mental jukebox -- a sailboat explosion/A snap of electric whip crack."
** Self-awarely parodied in Lee's "Skip Tracer".
--->the guitar guy played real good feedback and super sounding riffs\\
with his mild mannered look on, yeah he was truly hip\\
the girl started out in red patent leather\\
very "I'm in a band" with knee pads\\
we watch her fall over and lay down\\
shouting the poetic truths of high school journal keepers\\
row house row house pass through, let the city rise up\\
twister, dust buster, hospital bed, I'll see you see you see you on the highway
* XtremeKoolLetterz: Some of their song titles, such as "Tuff Gnarl", "Kotton Krown", "White Kross", and "Kool Thing".
** Also, the band (and their fans) have an idiosyncratic habit of always writing "yr" instead of "your".
* [[YourCheatingHeart Yr Cheating Heart]]: Moore had an affair, the discovery of which ended his marriage to Gordon and the band itself.