Sonic Youth (EP)

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Sonic Youth
EP by Sonic Youth
Released March 1982
Recorded December, 1981 – January, 1982 at Radio City Music Hall Studios, New York City, New York, United States
Genre No wave, post-punk
Length 24:16
Label Neutral
Producer Sonic Youth
Sonic Youth chronology
Sonic Youth
Confusion Is Sex

Sonic Youth is the debut EP by American noise rock/alternative rock band Sonic Youth. It was released in March 1982 by Glenn Branca's Neutral label. It is the only recording featuring the early Sonic Youth lineup with Richard Edson on drums. Sonic Youth differs stylistically from the band's later work in its greater incorporation of clean guitars, standard tuning, crisp production and a post-punk style.


Sonic Youth is the only Sonic Youth release in which the guitars predominantly use standard tuning. The album is also largely representative of their early no wave roots. The production is also professional, with a crisp sound quality that wouldn't be heard in the band's music until their early-1990s major label releases. Drum-wise, the songs feature the more "downtown" roto-tom-addled stylings of Richard Edson, approaching the quasi-funk/hip-hop rhythms of 99 Records bands like ESG and Liquid Liquid. The bass guitar, though often playing minor key riffs, is almost funk-based, which was a common feature of post-punk and no wave music. The clean guitar tones contain little of the trademark noise that Sonic Youth would eventually become known for.

Although the original record clocks in at under 25 minutes in length, Sonic Youth is considered by the band to be their first studio album.[1]

Track listing[edit]

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

Side A
No. Title Lyrics Vocals Length
1. "The Burning Spear"   Thurston Moore Moore 3:28
2. "I Dreamed I Dream"   Richard Edson, Lee Ranaldo Kim Gordon, Ranaldo 5:12
3. "She Is Not Alone"   Moore Moore 4:06
Side B
No. Title Lyrics Length
4. "I Don't Want to Push It"   Gordon Moore 3:35
5. "The Good and the Bad"   Instrumental Instrumental 7:55
2006 CD reissue bonus tracks
No. Title Lyrics Vocals Length
6. "Hard Work (Live)"   Gordon Moore 3:19
7. "Where the Red Fern Grows (Live)"   Instrumental Instrumental 5:47
8. "The Burning Spear (Live)"   Moore Moore 3:23
9. "Cosmopolitan Girl (Live)"   Gordon Gordon 3:35
10. "Loud and Soft (Live)"   Ranaldo Ranaldo 6:48
11. "Destroyer (Live)"   Instrumental Instrumental 5:32
12. "She Is Not Alone (Live)"   Moore Moore 3:29
13. "Where the Red Fern Grows (Studio)"   Instrumental Instrumental 6:45
  • The bonus tracks were recorded live at the Music for Millions Festival at the New Pilgrim Theatre in New York on September 18, 1981 except for the studio version of "Where the Red Fern Grows" which was recorded at the Radio City Music Hall Studios sometime between December 1981 and January 1982.


Sonic Youth was released on 12" vinyl in March 1982 on then-mentor Branca's record label Neutral. It was released in Europe on the German Zensor label in 1984.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 2.5/5 stars[2]
Robert Christgau C[3]
Pitchfork 8.2/10[4]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 2/5 stars[5]

Sonic Youth has received a mixed reception from critics. In its review of the 2006 reissue, Pitchfork called the EP "obviously more primitive than the quartet's later work", noting that "the recordings offer a ghostly, mesmerizing locked groove" and that "this is SY at their most icy; it's an erudite, windswept set, wrapping distortion inside danceable half-frozen Liquid Liquid beats."[4] AllMusic wrote, "Awkward and rather formative, the record sounds like a fusion of no wave and an early Factory band."[2] Trouser Press wrote of the album, "This disc is no fun."[6]


In 1987, SST reissued the album in its original vinyl format, as well as on cassette with all five tracks running on its first side. The flip side of the cassette featured the same five tracks on the other side, but played backwards from last to first, and the printing on both the J-card and cassette matched this: side 1 had the band name and song titles printed forwards, side 2 had them printed as a mirror image. That same year, the EP saw its first CD release by SST in the U.S. and by Blast First in the UK.[7]

Sonic Youth was reissued by Geffen Records in 2006 on CD and as a double LP, with a number of bonus tracks that brought the running time to 63:04. Added were seven songs from a live performance recorded on 18 September 1981. Most of the tracks played were based on pieces composed by the band for the Noisefest festival held earlier in 1981, while others predate the band itself, such as Kim Gordon's song "Cosmopolitan Girl". Several of these pieces are quite different from their studio counterparts, in particular the noisy early version of "She Is Not Alone". Among the tracks is the instrumental "Destroyer", previously coveted by bootleg collectors. Also added was a studio recording of a song that also appeared in a live version, "Where the Red Fern Grows". The song, an early version of "I Dreamed I Dream", was recorded in October 1981. The studio version was an instrumental, while on the live take, Lee sang two lines towards the end. The 2006 booklet contains new photos and extensive liner notes from Branca, Edson and Byron Coley, as well as a "few notes" concerning the album from Thurston Moore. On the CD reissue, the tray card is double-sided – the side that faces out contains the track listing with a bar code and an RIAA anti-piracy notice, and the opposite side has the same track listing without a bar code or an RIAA warning. Despite the CD reissue on Geffen, logos for Neutral Records, which the album was originally released on, can still be found in numerous places in the package.


Sonic Youth


  1. ^ " Discography – Album: Sonic Youth". Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Kellman, Andy. "Sonic Youth - Sonic Youth: Songs, Reviews, Credits, Reviews: AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved September 8, 2012. 
  3. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Robert Christgau: CG: Sonic Youth". Retrieved September 8, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Stosuy, Brandon (5 April 2006). "Thurston Moore: Sonic Youth / The Whitey Album / Psychic Hearts | Album Reviews | Pitchfork". Pitchfork. Retrieved September 8, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Sonic Youth: Album Guide". Rolling Stone. Retrieved June 18, 2013. 
  6. ^ Kot, Greg; Leland, John; Sheridan; Robbins, Ira; Pattyn, Jay. " :: Sonic Youth". Retrieved April 10, 2013. 
  7. ^ " Discography". Retrieved February 28, 2013. 

External links[edit]