NYC Ghosts & Flowers

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NYC Ghosts & Flowers
Studio album by Sonic Youth
Released May 16, 2000
Recorded August 1999 – February 2000 New York City
Genre Experimental rock, noise rock, post-rock
Length 42:18
Label DGC
Producer Sonic Youth, Jim O'Rourke
Sonic Youth chronology
SYR4: Goodbye 20th Century
NYC Ghosts & Flowers
Murray Street

NYC Ghosts & Flowers is the eleventh studio album by American alternative rock band Sonic Youth. It was released on May 16, 2000, through record label DGC.


The album was a slight departure,[citation needed] mainly as a creative reaction[citation needed] to the theft of their instruments while on tour in July 1999.[1] Irreplaceable guitars and effects pedals with numerous modifications were stolen.[1] As a result of this theft, the members of Sonic Youth relied upon "old guitars in their studio, unearthing instruments they hadn't used in years" which "along with equipment purchased to fulfill the remaining [...] dates [of the tour], would serve as the foundation for six new songs written over the next month", in addition to "Free City Rhymes" and "Renegade Princess", which were written prior to the tour.[1] The band members later acknowledged that "the gear theft was somewhat of a blessing, if not a rather unwelcome and unpleasant one, in that it truly forced them to 'start over' and approach creating music with brand new boundaries".[1]

It is also the first Sonic Youth album to extensively use prepared guitars since 1985's Bad Moon Rising, most notably on "Small Flowers Crack Concrete" (a file inserted over the neck pickup) and "Lightnin'" (a bike horn wedged under the strings).[citation needed]

On this album the influence of beat poetry on the band is strongly evident: the lyrics to most songs resemble the beat style; Lenny Bruce and D. A. Levy are name-checked; and the cover art is based on a painting by William S. Burroughs.

A music video was released for the track "Nevermind (What Was It Anyway)". According to the band's official website, it was a proposed single that "never actually found its way into stores."[1]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Sonic Youth (Thurston Moore, Kim Gordon, Lee Ranaldo, Steve Shelley). 

No. Title Lyrics Vocals Length
1. "Free City Rhymes"   Moore Moore 7:32
2. "Renegade Princess"   Moore Moore, Gordon, Ranaldo 5:49
3. "Nevermind (What Was It Anyway)"   Gordon Gordon 5:37
4. "Small Flowers Crack Concrete"   Moore Moore, Gordon, Ranaldo 5:12
5. "Side2Side"   Gordon Gordon 3:34
6. "StreamXSonik Subway"   Moore Moore 2:51
7. "NYC Ghosts & Flowers"   Ranaldo Ranaldo 7:52
8. "Lightnin'"   Gordon Gordon 3:51
Total length:

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 66/100[2]
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 2.5/5 stars[3]
Alternative Press 3/5 stars[4]
The A.V. Club mixed[5]
Chicago Tribune (average)[6]
Entertainment Weekly B[7]
Robert Christgau A[8]
NME 8/10[9]
Pitchfork 0/10[10]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[11]
Spin 8/10[12]

The album so far has a score of 66 out of 100 from Metacritic based on "generally favorable reviews".[2] Pitchfork infamously gave the album a rare 0.0/10 grade, with reviewer Brent DiCrescenzo calling it "an unfathomable album which will be heard in the squash courts and open mic nights of deepest Hell." Commenting on the album's avant-garde roots: "These are not new ideas. These are ideas that were arrogant and unlistenable upon birth thirty years ago."[10] Robert Christgau gave the album an 'A' grade upon its release, though he later claimed to have misjudged it and came to view it in a less favorable light.[13]

Coincidentally, DiCrescenzo also re-evaluated his opinion of the album and remarked of the higher esteem with which he now held it: "I now love the record. It's unlike anything else; eerie and beautiful. [...] No, the lesson here is: beware the opinions of a kid right out of college." He also described Pitchfork's decimal scale as "knowingly silly" and "arbitrary".[14]

Many reviews are also positive, while some are average, mixed or negative. Ink Blot Magazine gave it a favorable review and said it was "Closer than any previous mass-market Sonic Youth album to the avant-garde sound that's always popped up in their extracurricular work."[15] Wall of Sound gave it a score of 71 out of 100 and stated: "The band members unleash meditative, self-consciously poetic jams, solidifying their status as the hipster's Phish."[16] Billboard gave the album a positive review and said it "either encapsulates Sonic Youth's most endearing or annoying qualities, depending on how one feels about the band and the spoken-word poetics from Kim Gordon."[17] also gave the album a positive review and stated, "Even while there isn't a single song here that holds together from beginning to end, even as the music makes only itself felt in halting jigsaw fashion... the album has a gloomy, unaccommodating tenacity that's hard to shake."[18] Mojo gave the album three stars out of five and said that "In the end, it's surprisingly worth it for the few great, strange tracks."[2] Nude as the News gave it a score of 5.5 out of ten and said, "The big downside is the lyrics."[2] Select gave it two out of ten and said, "The songs suffer from a lazy approach and the relentless repetition of unengaging chord patterns."[2]


Year Chart Position
2000 French Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique 61[19]
Norwegian VG-lista 37[20]
UK Albums Chart 113[21]
US Billboard 200 172[22]


Sonic Youth
Additional personnel
  • Jim O'Rourke – bass guitar ("Free City Rhymes", "Small Flowers Crack Concrete"), electronics ("Side2Side"), production, additional recording, additional mixing
  • William Winant – percussion ("Side2Side")
  • Rafael Toral – Spacestatic guitar ("Renegade Princess")
  • Wharton Tiers – recording
  • Greg Calbi – mastering
  • Frank Olinsky – sleeve art direction
  • Dan Graham – sleeve artwork (video still from Rock My Religion, 1980)
  • D. A. Levy – sleeve spiral drawing (1967)
  • Joe Brainard – sleeve painting (Flower Painting IV, 1967)
  • Robert Mooney – sleeve painting (untitled, 1992)
  • William S. Burroughs – sleeve painting (X-Ray Man, 1992)


  1. ^ a b c d e " Discography – Album: NYC Ghosts & Flowers". Retrieved January 20, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Critic Reviews for nyc ghosts & flowers – Metacritic". Metacritic. Retrieved January 20, 2013. 
  3. ^ Phares, Heather. "NYC Ghosts & Flowers – Sonic Youth : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards : AllMusic". Allmusic. Retrieved January 20, 2013. 
  4. ^ Burgess, Aaron (July 17, 2000). "Sonic Youth: NYC Ghosts & Flowers". Alternative Press: 81. Archived from the original on April 30, 2001. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
  5. ^ Thompson, Stephen (May 16, 2000). "Sonic Youth: NYC Ghosts & Flowers | Music | MusicalWork Review | The A.V. Club". The A.V. Club. Retrieved January 20, 2013. 
  6. ^ Kot, Greg (June 4, 2000). "Sonic Youth NYC Ghosts & Flowers (Geffen)". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
  7. ^ Brunner, Rob (May 26, 2000). "nyc ghosts & flowers Review". Entertainment Weekly (542): 74. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
  8. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Robert Christgau: CG: Sonic Youth". Retrieved January 20, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Album Reviews - NYC Ghosts & Flowers". NME: 41. May 23, 2000. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
  10. ^ a b DiCrescenzo, Brent (April 30, 2000). "Sonic Youth: NYC Ghosts & Flowers | Album Reviews | Pitchfork". Pitchfork. Retrieved January 20, 2013. 
  11. ^ Kot, Greg (June 8, 2000). "NYC Ghosts & Flowers". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 20, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Sonic Youth - NYC Ghosts & Flowers CD Album". CD Universe. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
  13. ^ Christgau, Robert (June 13, 2006). "Rather Exhilarating". The Village Voice. Retrieved January 20, 2013. 
  14. ^ DiCrescenzo, Brent (January 10, 2013). ""I Gave Sonic Youth a 0.0 Rating on Pitchfork." – Arts + Culture – Time Out Chicago". Time Out. Retrieved January 20, 2013. 
  15. ^ Mayer, Bill (2000). "Sonic Youth: NYC Ghosts & Flowers". Ink Blot Magazine. Archived from the original on August 18, 2000. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
  16. ^ McCarthy, Jackie. "NYC Ghosts & Flowers". Wall of Sound. Archived from the original on February 4, 2001. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Sonic Youth: NYC Ghosts & Flowers". Billboard. June 3, 2000. Archived from the original on October 29, 2000. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
  18. ^ Hampton, Howard (July 20, 2000). "Sharps & Flats". Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
  19. ^ " – Sonic Youth – NYC Ghosts & Flowers". Retrieved April 27, 2013. 
  20. ^ " – Sonic Youth – NYC Ghosts & Flowers". Retrieved January 20, 2013. 
  21. ^ "Sonic Youth | Artist | Official Charts". Retrieved April 27, 2013. 
  22. ^ "NYC Ghosts & Flowers – Sonic Youth | Billboard". Retrieved January 20, 2013. 

External links[edit]