A Thousand Leaves

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A Thousand Leaves
Studio album by Sonic Youth
Released May 12, 1998
Recorded 1997–1998 at Echo Canyon, New York City, United States
Genre Alternative rock, noise rock, experimental rock, post-rock
Length 73:36
Label DGC
Producer Sonic Youth, Wharton Tiers
Sonic Youth chronology
SYR3: Invito al ĉielo
A Thousand Leaves
Silver Session for Jason Knuth
Singles from A Thousand Leaves
  1. "Sunday"
    Released: April 23, 1998

A Thousand Leaves is the tenth studio album by American alternative rock band Sonic Youth. It was released on May 12, 1998 by record label DGC.

Recording and content[edit]

A Thousand Leaves is the group's first major album to be recorded in their private Manhattan studio, dubbed Echo Canyon. There are several references to France on A Thousand Leaves. On the CD label the phrase "mille feuille" is crossed out and "a thousand leaves" is written under it. The name of the first song, "Contre le sexisme", means "against sexism" in French. "French Tickler" refers to a sex toy of the same name.

It was Thurston Moore who came up with the title of the album, which is inspired by Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass.[1]


A Thousand Leaves was released on May 12, 1998 by record label DGC. The song "Sunday" was released as a single. As of July 1999, the album has sold 54,000 copies in the U.S. according to Nielsen SoundScan.[2]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[3]
The A.V. Club unfavorable[4]
Robert Christgau A+[5]
Entertainment Weekly C+[6]
People favorable[7]
Pitchfork 7.1/10[8]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars (1998)[9]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 5/5 stars (2004)[10]
Spin 7/10[11]
The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music 4/5 stars[12]

A Thousand Leaves has generally been well received by professional critics. Robert Christgau praised the album, giving it the highest score of any Sonic Youth album to date, A+, and calling it "mature, leisurely, rather beautiful, perhaps content. But it's neither complacent nor same-old, and after it's settled into their, I'm sorry, oeuvre, it will rank toward the top for everybody except permanent revolutionaries [...] Awash in connubial ardor and childhood bliss, undergirded by the strength-through-strangeness of angry tunings grown familiar, it's the music of a daydream nation old enough to treasure whatever time it finds on its hands. Where a decade ago they plunged and plodded, drunk on the forward notion of the van they were stuck in, here they wander at will, dazzled by sunshine, greenery, hoarfrost and machines that go squish in the night."[5]

Rolling Stone opined, "their best-made records radiate the thrilling feeling that they stopped shy of adding finishing touches. It's why everybody has a different favorite disc of the band's: They all seem so unprogrammed, so highly suggestive. But A Thousand Leaves loses that delicate balance between whimsy and craft in favor of the former. Rather than the idea-every-minute of the last few albums, the songs plod for long stretches. It really does sound like a demo – eleven songs waiting for better organization and cliché removal."[9] Pitchfork called the album "the prettiest Sonic Youth record yet", praising its subtle textures" and calling the songs "aromatherapy, relaxing and vaporous", but that "you get the idea that by this point Sonic Youth can just walk in their studio and crank this stuff out in an afternoon. That's where the resulting inconsistency comes from. The band is too content to merely experiment and jam."[8] The A.V. Club commented, "too rarely does A Thousand Leaves contain fully formed songs [...] Here's hoping Sonic Youth [...] starts completing its ideas before recording them for posterity."[4]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Sonic Youth. 

No. Title Vocals Length
1. "Contre le sexisme"   Gordon 3:55
2. "Sunday"   Moore 4:52
3. "Female Mechanic Now on Duty"   Gordon 7:43
4. "Wildflower Soul"   Moore, Gordon (background vocals) 9:04
5. "Hoarfrost"   Ranaldo 5:01
6. "French Tickler"   Gordon 4:52
7. "Hits of Sunshine (For Allen Ginsberg)"   Moore 11:05
8. "Karen Koltrane"   Ranaldo, Moore (background vocals) 9:20
9. "The Ineffable Me"   Gordon 5:21
10. "Snare, Girl"   Moore 6:38
11. "Heather Angel"   Gordon 6:09
Total length:


Year Album Chart Position
1998 A Thousand Leaves French Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique 32[13]
Norwegian VG-lista 37[14]
UK Albums Chart 38[15]
Swedish Sverigetopplistan 43[16]
US Billboard 200 85[17]
Belgium Ultratop 28[18]


Sonic Youth


  1. ^ McCutchen, Andrew (June 1, 2000). "Sonic Youth: An Interview with Thurston Moore – Spike Magazine". Spike Magazine. Retrieved April 27, 2013. 
  2. ^ Mike Boehm (1999-07-01). "Emerging From Under Rock". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-09-17. 
  3. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "A Thousand Leaves – Sonic Youth : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards : AllMusic". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved April 27, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Thompson, Stephen (March 29, 2002). "Sonic Youth: A Thousand Leaves | Music | MusicalWork Review | The A.V. Club". The A.V. Club. Retrieved April 27, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Christgau, Robert. "Robert Christgau: CG: Sonic Youth". robertchristgau.com. Retrieved April 27, 2013. 
  6. ^ Considine, J.D. (May 15, 1998). "A Thousand Leaves Review". Entertainment Weekly (432). Retrieved June 21, 2013. 
  7. ^ Dougherty, Steve; Foege, Alex; Grisby, Lorna (May 11, 1998). "Picks and Pans Review: A Thousand Leaves". People 49 (18). Retrieved April 27, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b DiCrescenzo, Brent (June 1, 1998). "Sonic Youth: A Thousand Leaves: Pitchfork Record Review". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on June 16, 2007. Retrieved April 27, 2013. 
  9. ^ a b Ratliff, Ben (May 6, 1998). "A Thousand Leaves". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 27, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Sonic Youth: Album Guide". Rolling Stone. Retrieved July 8, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Sonic Youth - Thousand Leaves CD Album". CD Universe. Retrieved June 21, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Acclaimed Music – A Thousand Leaves". Acclaimed Music. Retrieved April 27, 2013. 
  13. ^ "lescharts.com – Sonic Youth – A Thousand Leaves". lescharts.com. Retrieved April 27, 2013. 
  14. ^ "norwegiancharts.com – Sonic Youth – A Thousand Leaves". norwegiancharts.com. Retrieved April 27, 2013. 
  15. ^ "Sonic Youth | Artist | Official Charts". officialcharts.com. Retrieved April 27, 2013. 
  16. ^ "swedishcharts.com – Sonic Youth – A Thousand Leaves". swedishcharts.com. Retrieved April 27, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Sonic Youth – Chart History | Billboard". billboard.com. Retrieved April 27, 2013. 
  18. ^ "ultratop.be – Sonic Youth – A Thousand Leaves". ultratop.be. Retrieved April 27, 2013. 

External links[edit]