I discovered indie rock in the 90s and you couldn't listen to bands like Pavement, Dinosaur, Jr., or Nirvana without being aware of Sonic Youth, who were the sort of cool older siblings to what the media idiotically dubbed "alternative." More than any band though they bridged the gap between the 80s punk/post-punk underground and the 90s indie/"alt" rock scene. I've always respected them more than liked them, but like a lot of music fans, I was surprised and saddened when the couple at the center of the band, Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore, broke up, taking the band with them. (For more about this, check out Gordon's excellent recent memoir "Girl in a Band.") They did sign to a major label (DGC), which some criticized them for, but they retained their integrity and independence and if anything the mainstream moved towards them rather than the other way around. If their previous 3 90s albums saw them as "popular" as they would ever be, 1995's "Washing Machine" feels like a re-assertion of their strangeness and refusal to conform, favoring longer, more abstract songs and nothing really resembling a single, aside from "Little Trouble Girl," featuring Kim Deal on vocals. They'd push ever farther afield with their next album, "A Thousand Leaves," released in 1998.
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