Here’s an imaginary compilation for a band that surprisingly enough, have never featured on TVV – a definite oversight from JC!

Anyway, they’ve released 15 studio albums and recorded hundreds of songs so a Sonic Youth ICA seems like a pretty daunting task – except I don’t own all those tracks and of those I do own, I only keep about 25 on my Ipod, so they are the ones I am most familiar with.

As a band they were always experimenting and always pushing their sound to new limits and because of this I think they are one of those bands that the more you listen, the more you get out of – there’s so much depth and texture to their music. They are a band that I’ve listened to for nearly 30 years (yikes!) and are the one that I always gravitate to when I am a bit drunk on long train journeys home – they just seem to make sense to me in that state.

I don’t really know the stuff from before Daydream Nation too well either so my ICA will mainly be from then onwards – maybe someone else can do me an ICA of earlier stuff from Sister/EVOL etc? Anyway, here goes – not necessarily the best, just my favourites…

01 TEEN AGE RIOT  (From Daydream Nation)

Best to get this one out of the way early – the opening track on their masterpiece and in my opinion one of the greatest songs ever recorded. I never tire of the Kim Gordon beginning whisper to this song – or the rest of it really. I saw them perform the whole of Daydream Nation a few years ago – one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to (the accompanying picture is from that show – in my opinion, one of the best rock photos ever taken – even if it was on an old Nokia phone) – you know that any show that starts with this song isn’t going to let you down. And it’s the last song that Sonic Youth ever performed together – and sadly will probably never be performed by them again – I can’t see there being a reunion any time.

BEST BIT: 1.22 When Thurston’s guitar kicks in – all euphoria excitement and adrenalin and the promise of what’s to come.

02 SUNDAY  (From A Thousand Leaves)

Sonic Youth are so good at the whole quiet/LOUD/quiet thing – heaven knows how they make all that noise with just their guitars – but they do and I love it.

BEST BIT: 2.21 When it kicks off into that noisy squall – magic.

03 THE EMPTY PAGE (From Murray Street)

I really got into this song after Kim Gordon used it as a reference point in her autobiography. Again it’s got that quiet/LOUD thing going on – there’s a bit of a theme developing here!

BEST BIT: 3.34 Thurston’s voice when he sings “The empty page has wasted down”

04 OR (From Rather Ripped)

Almost my favourite Sonic Youth song – probably no2 after Teenage Riot mainly as that’s got history and it’s the songs you love in your early years that are generally the ones that influence you most. Anyway, I digress – I love the words and the sense of menace and yearning and resignation in this song – I think that’s what it is anyway!

BEST BIT: 2.28 The way Thurston says “Rock” – it really does rock.

05 BROTHER JAMES (From Death Valley 69)

Time for a Kim Gordon song – I’ll admit I first listened to this song because of the name – I’m a sucker for songs with my name in them and believe me there’s loads. This is kind of the opposite of the previous song – Kim Gordon sounds seriously pissed off – screaming the lyrics. Sonic Youth are one of those bands where they are all such great musicians and such a unit that it’s hard to say what stands out – on this track it’s all perfect.

BEST BIT: 2.30 Kim screaming “I don’t wanna hang around” and then things just get faster

06 DIRTY BOOTS (From Goo)

Ok lets play the hits. I remember leaping around indie discos to this song and moshing when they played it – I’m sure there’s plenty of TVV readers that did the same. I’m in danger of repeating myself – Thurston Moore sounds great, Steve Shelley nails it, Lee Ranaldo does his thing and Kim Gordon holds it all together impeccably – almost the perfect Sonic Youth track, if there weren’t so many classics to choose from. Every one of them was at the top of their game when they recorded this and it shows.

BEST BIT: 3.05 HA! Enough said.

07 CANDLE (From Daydream Nation)

I could’ve chosen pretty much any song off Daydream Nation – they are all good but this is one that I played to death in my youth and so was a real highlight for me when I saw them perform it.

BEST BIT: 0.00 The beginning – I love the melody that leads into the song.

08 SACRED TRICKSTER (from The Eternal)

Another Kim song. Where the title of her book ‘Girl In A Band’ comes from.

BEST BIT: 1. 14 Uh-huh Uh-huh. Just because.

09 I LOVE YOU GOLDEN BLUE (From Sonic Nurse)

Sonic Youth do dreamy. Kim Gordon whispering the words – none of their trademark distortion – and in her book it’s a song she says she loved singing.

BEST BIT: 5.46 You expect it to get faster and drown you in feedback but Kim Gordon just whispers the title of the song.

10 THE DIAMOND SEA (From Washing Machine)

At 20 minutes long this is the song that just keeps giving – it’s a showcase for the whole band and encompasses just about every aspect of the Sonic Youth sound. An epic to end my ICA.

BEST BIT: Seriously? All of it.

mp3 : Sonic Youth – Teen Age Riot
mp3 : Sonic Youth – Sunday
mp3 : Sonic Youth – The Empty Page
mp3 : Sonic Youth – Or
mp3 : Sonic Youth – Brother James
mp3 : Sonic Youth – Dirty Boots
mp3 : Sonic Youth – Candle
mp3 : Sonic Youth – Sacred Trickster
mp3 : Sonic Youth – I Love You Golden Blue
mp3 : Sonic Youth – The Diamond Sea

Love from jimdoes



  1. Wow nothing at all from ‘Sister’ I would have included ‘Hotwire My Heart’ at the expense ‘Candle’ I think. I’d also have to make room for ‘Kool Thing’ just because and as a secret track some twenty minutes after the end of The Diamond Sea I’d have Get Into the Groove(y). Excellent band.

  2. Agree with Bakersvlle about Kool Thing. A brave attempt at an ICA for a band which 20 different people probably would probably come up with something completely different for. Except Teen Age Riot – that’s mandatory for everyone!

  3. i was trying to keep it to one song from one album with the exception of daydream nation – so kool thing got sacrificed for the sake of dirty boots – maybe it can be my bonus track!

  4. I’m impressed when anyone takes on an ICA of a band with 20+ years of material to choose from. No way I could have picked only 10 songs from Sonic Youth. I’m sure everyone has their own S/Y favorite they would have included (mine is ‘Disappearer’) but this is a really great selection — can’t fault any of the choices. Nice work Jimdoes.

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