Murray Street (album)

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Murray Street
Studio album by Sonic Youth
Released June 25, 2002
Recorded August 2001 – March 2002 at Echo Canyon, New York City, United States
Genre Alternative rock, noise rock, experimental rock
Length 45:37
Label DGC
Producer Sonic Youth
Sonic Youth studio album chronology
NYC Ghosts & Flowers
Murray Street
Sonic Nurse

Murray Street is the twelfth studio album by American alternative rock band Sonic Youth. It was released on June 25, 2002 by record label DGC.

Background and recording[edit]

Murray Street is the first album by the band to feature Jim O'Rourke as an official fifth member to bolster the group's sound.[1]

Recording began in August 2001 in Echo Canyon, New York City following the band's final NYC Ghosts and Flowers/Goodbye to the 20th Century tour. The first release of material from the sessions was the song "Plastic Sun" which became a sampler. However, due to an error in the pitch, the band re-released the song on their website. Recordings sessions reached an unexpected halt on September 11, 2001 following the terrorist attacks, as the band instead lead a Trade Center benefit festival on October 9.[2] Several other benefits and gigs lead them to their rescheduled March 17, 2002 All Tomorrow's Parties festival in Los Angeles, California. By then, recording and mixing for the LP was complete and all seven tracks (first revealed on the band website) were played at the festival.[3] The new material was hailed as a return to the style that made the band underground favorites with their distorted and complex instrumentals.[4]


Art director Frank Olinsky lead the concept of the cover designs. The young blonde-haired girl to the right on the album's cover is Coco Hayley Gordon Moore, Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon's daughter. Her friend, Stella, is featured on the left as the two are picking strawberries. No title is seen on the cover, just "SONIC YOUTH" in a scrawl. The CD booklet is three pages, double-sided including the cover which features a reverse color image of the CD cover. Included are liner notes, photographs, and album credits. The back cover depicts the Murray St. street sign.[5]


In early June 2002, Murray Street was released in Japan with the bonus track, "Street Sauce".[6] June 10th was the release date in Europe and June 25th was the release to North America. There were 500 French copies that came with a limited edition bonus blue 10", featuring three exclusive tracks from their recent soundtrack developments: "Derniere Minute Electrifee" on one side, "Le Paysage Zim Zum" and "Coca Neon Kamera Sutra on the other. In North America, the disc is enhanced, comes with a screen saver, and a link to a "secret" link on the Sonic Youth website that offered promo photographs, music videos, and all three songs from the Kali Yug EP. The gatefold vinyl addition was released on the Smells Like Records Goofin imprint.[7]

Upon release, Murray Street was a moderate success, peaking at #126 on the Billboard 200.[8]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 82/100[9]
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[10]
Robert Christgau (3-star Honorable Mention)[11]
Entertainment Weekly A−[12]
NME 6/10[13]
Pitchfork 9.0/10[14]
PopMatters 8/10 stars[15][9]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[16]
Stylus Magazine B+[17]
Trouser Press favorable[18]

Murray Street, as of now, has a score of 82 out of 100 from Metacritic based on "universal acclaim".[9] Entertainment Weekly wrote that, with the album, "Sonic Youth find a balance – between formlessness and structure, melody and cacophony – that's eluded them for a while."[12] Playlouder gave the album four-and-a-half stars out of five and said, "There is just enough balance between the tune, and the unexpected jazz chords, ear-splitting squeals, and lovely harmonic noises to make it forever listenable."[19] The A.V. Club gave it a favorable review and said the album "doesn't mark an epochal moment for Sonic Youth, but its familiar nods and new ingredients--from Steve Shelley's occasionally near-funky drumming to O'Rourke's tingly laptop textures--stake out another high point for a band achieving self-realization by reconciling self-absorption with a sigh and a smile."[20] gave it a score of eight stars out of ten and stated: "Written with some basic, inviting rock structures, the album replaces the hyper energy and angst of older material with slowed-down, complex textures and delicate grooves -- but still rocks out intermittently."[21] Nude as the News gave it a score of eight out of ten and said, "Whether they came on board at Daydream Nation or Experimental Jet Set, true believers will relish this one."[9] Uncut gave it four stars out of five and said that the album "contains some of the best music Sonic Youth have recorded since the landmark Daydream Nation in 1988."[9] Blender also gave it four stars out of five and said of Sonic Youth, "They've got more sweet-and-bitter guitar muscle than ever."[9] Q likewise gave the album four stars and called it "An essay in coolly assured, sophisticated leftfield rock, occasionally laden with trademark discordance yet also full of scintillating tunes."[9] Billboard gave it a favorable review and said the album "features some of the group's most focused and seductive work ever."[22] Mojo also gave the album four stars while labeling it as the "Album of the Month" and said, "The band's conventional elements are even more conventional while the boundary-pushers stretch as far as ever."[9] Spin likewise gave the album a score of eight out of ten and said, "This time around, the band square their artier tendencies with their sweet tooth for classic psych-rock."[9] No Ripcord gave it eight stars out of ten and said, "If you doubt the importance of Sonic Youth then a few listens to Murray Street will make you think again. Yes, there are only seven rather lengthy tracks here but you'll have to look elsewhere for signs of indulgence."[23]

Alternative Press gave the album three-and-a-half stars out of five and said it "features less avant-garde noodling and more straight-up Youth."[9] However, The Village Voice gave it a mixed review and said, "The new album isn't terrible, just dull."[24]


Pitchfork Media placed Murray Street at number 108 in their list of the two hundred greatest albums of the 2000s.[25]

Track listing[edit]

All music composed by Sonic Youth (Thurston Moore, Kim Gordon, Lee Ranaldo, Steve Shelley, Jim O'Rourke).

No. Title Length
1. "The Empty Page"   4:20
2. "Disconnection Notice"   6:24
3. "Rain on Tin"   7:56
4. "Karen Revisited"   11:10
5. "Radical Adults Lick Godhead Style"   4:27
6. "Plastic Sun"   2:14
7. "Sympathy for the Strawberry"   9:06
Total length:

Note: On the LP edition of the album, "Karen Revisited" is ordered before "Rain on Tin".

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (2002) Peak
Austrian Ö3 Top 40 52[26]
Belgian Albums Chart (Vl) 28[27]
French SNEP Albums Chart 48[28]
German Albums Chart 63[29]
Irish Albums Chart 67[30]
Norwegian Albums Chart 16[31]
UK Albums Chart 77
US Billboard 200 126


Sonic Youth
Additional musicians
Technical personnel
Design personnel
  • Frank Olinksy – art direction
  • Monique Voorhout – photography, artwork
  • Stefano Giovannini – photography


  1. ^ "Murray Street - Review". Retrieved March 21, 2015. 
  2. ^
  3. ^
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  6. ^ "Sonic Youth Strolls Down Murray Street". Retrieved February 21, 2015. 
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Critic Reviews for Murray Street – Metacritic". Metacritic. Retrieved April 27, 2013. 
  10. ^ Phares, Heather. "Murray Street – Sonic Youth : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards : AllMusic". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 27 April 2013. 
  11. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Robert Christgau: CG: Sonic Youth". Retrieved 27 April 2013. 
  12. ^ a b Hermes, Will (June 28, 2002). "Murray Street Review". Entertainment Weekly (660–661): 142. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
  13. ^ Naylor, Tony (June 14, 2002). "NME Album Reviews – Sonic Youth: Murray Street –". NME. Retrieved April 27, 2013. 
  14. ^ Mitchum, Rob (June 25, 2002). "Sonic Youth: Murray Street | Album Reviews | Pitchfork". Pitchfork. Retrieved April 27, 2013. 
  15. ^ Thill, Scott (July 25, 2002). "Sonic Youth: Murray Street | PopMatters". PopMatters. Retrieved April 27, 2013. 
  16. ^ Powers, Ann (July 2, 2002). "Murray Street | Album Reviews | Rolling Stone". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 27, 2013. 
  17. ^ Panzner, Joe (September 1, 2003). "Sonic Youth – Murray Street – Review – Stylus Magazine". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved April 27, 2013. 
  18. ^ Kot, Greg; Leland, John; Sheridan, David; Robbins, Ira; Pattyn, Jay. " :: Sonic Youth". Trouser Press. Retrieved April 27, 2013. 
  19. ^ Jeres (June 12, 2002). "Murray Street by Sonic Youth". Playlouder. Archived from the original on August 3, 2002. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
  20. ^ Battaglia, Andy (July 22, 2002). "Sonic Youth: Murray Street | Music | MusicalWork Review | The A.V. Club". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 27 April 2013. 
  21. ^ Tatone, Jenny (2002). "Sonic Youth: Murray Street". Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
  22. ^ "Sonic Youth: Murray Street". Billboard. July 6, 2002. Archived from the original on July 6, 2002. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
  23. ^ Coleman, David (July 4, 2002). "Sonic Youth: Murray Street". No Ripcord. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
  24. ^ Phillips, Amy (July 9, 2002). "Sonic Euthanasia". The Village Voice. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
  25. ^ Harvell, Jess (September 29, 2009). "Staff Lists: The Top 200 Albums of the 2000s: 150–101 | Features | Pitchfork". Pitchfork. Retrieved April 27, 2013. 
  26. ^ "Sonic Youth – Murray Street". (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved January 16, 2013. 
  27. ^ "Sonic Youth – Murray Street". Ultratop (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved January 16, 2013. 
  28. ^ "Sonic Youth – Murray Street". (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved January 16, 2013. 
  29. ^ "Album – Sonic Youth, Murray Street". Media Control Charts (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved January 16, 2013. 
  30. ^ "Discography Sonic Youth". Hung Medien. Retrieved January 16, 2013. 
  31. ^ "Sonic Youth – Murray Street". Hung Medien. Retrieved January 16, 2013. 
Preceded by
Vespertine by Björk
The Wire's Record of the Year
Succeeded by
Cuckooland by Robert Wyatt