Sonic Youth is one of the most influential bands in alternative rock, who were garnering critical acclaim with their experimental sounds that incorporate everything from indie rock and punk, and influencing the use of unorthodox guitar. They would serve as an influence for the 1990s alternative rock that would dominate rock throughout the decade.
Formed in 1981 by Thurston Moore, Kim Gordon, and Lee Ranaldo, the band made a series of releases including 1985’s Bad Moon Rising, during the first half of the 1980s. Then in the decade’s later half, the group was signed with SST Records and later Enigma, and released two albums during that period. The first was 1987’s Sister, which brought Sonic Youth to bigger acclaim among modern and college rock audiences. Then in the following year came Daydream Nation, which became one of the greatest albums of the 1980s, topping polls lists from Rolling Stone to Village Voice.
By the time alternative rock had gained large mainstream attention, Sonic Youth were already icons in that genre, especially when they started delivering their biggest hits including albums 1990’s Goo and 1994’s Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star (their first top 40 pop album), as well as singles “Kool Thing”, “Drunken Butterfly” and “Bull in the Heather”. In 2009, they hit the top twenty with The Eternal. Also featured during that period was an experimental cover of the Leon Russell-penned “Superstar”, for the tribute album If I Were a Carpenter.
Having refining the methods of rock guitar, and being one of the first forerunners of the modern rock sound, they would influenced countless artists from the genre including Hole, Pavement, Nirvana, and Cat Power. Sonic Youth ended their run in 2011 following the split of Gordon and Moore, but the work and legacy of the band remains, continuing to be an influence in rock and pop music.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Sonic Youth, eligible since 2006.