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There has never been a rock institution quite like Sonic Youth. Their distinctive, uncompromising sound provided a map for innumerable musicians who followed, and in 2005, CMJ, the bible of the indie and alternative music work, ranked them no. 3 on its list of the 25 most influential artists of the last quarter century. But their impact does not end with their music. The Sonic Youth worldview encompasses punk rock, trashy pulp fiction, pop-art minimalism, contemporary classical composition, glam rock, leftist politics, feminist iconography, and ironic humour. Countless musicians and artists - including Kurt Cobain, Beck, Spike Jonze and Sofia Coppola - were introduced to the world thanks to Sonic Youth. In Goodbye 20th Century, David Browne tells the full glorious story of 'the Velvet Underground of their generation', based on extensive research, fresh interviews with the band and those who have worked with them, and unprecedented access to unreleased recordings and documents. Complete with never before published photos and artwork, Goodbye 20th Century is a richly detailed account of an iconic band and the times they helped create.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780749951641
ISBN-10: 0749951648
Format: Paperback
(235mm x 155mm x 32mm)
Pages: 432
Imprint: Piatkus Books
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publish Date: 5-Jun-2008
Country of Publication: United Kingdom


US Kirkus Review » Alt-rock noise icons of the '80s and '90s receive an exhausting bio.Music scribe Browne (Dream Brother: The Lives and Music of Jeff and Tim Buckley, 2001, etc.) wrestles at unsatisfying length with the music and career of Sonic Youth. Much of the early going is devoted to Connecticut-raised guitarist Thurston Moore's apprenticeship in the '70s New York punk scene and California-bred bassist Kim Gordon's in the L.A. art world. In the East Village, the couple (who would later wed) hooked up with guitarist Lee Ranaldo, whose work with avant-noise axeman Rhys Chatham was mirrored by Moore's tenure with the influential racket-monger Glenn Branca. With first drummer Bob Bert and latter-day skinman Steve Shelley, Sonic Youth created a flurry of forceful, inspired independent-label albums that melded battering detuned guitar work, hardcore punk energy and elusive pop-culture references to make them the darlings of the post-punk indie underground. Following the release of their two-LP 1988 masterwork Daydream Nation, the band began an uneasy but lucrative two-decade stint with major label Geffen Records, whose delusional executives believed their abrasive, experimental music could attain the same immense commercial success as pop-friendly grunge hitmakers Nirvana. Browne's recounting is awash in factoids that swamp the narrative. He is so intent on supplying details, no matter how minuscule or irrelevant, that the forest is swiftly obscured by the multitudinous trees. Judicious editing could have reduced the book's arduous length by a quarter; it could also have cut down on the cliched rock-crit adjective slinging with which Browne attempts to explicate Sonic Youth's complex music. Though the band members and their longtime associates sat for interviews, only Ranaldo is especially self-revelatory; Shelley seems merely petulant, while Moore and Gordon, whose career-long personal and professional relationship is the core of the tale, are extremely guarded.Overwritten yet strangely dispassionate sound and fury, signifying far less than Sonic Youth's ardent, explosive music. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - David Browne

David Browne is the former music critic for Entertainment Weekly, where he worked for over 15 years, and is the author of Dream Brother: The Lives and Music of Jeff and Tim Buckley. A former reporter and columnist for the New York Daily News, he has also contributed to The New York Times, New York magazine, Rolling Stone, MOJO, Spin, Sports Illustrated and other publications. He lives in New York City.

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