It used to be that people struggled to place Sonic Youth's music within some kind of context. Was it avant-garde improv or pop-culture pastiche? Was it fueled by theoretical abstraction or punk-rock impulse? Self-indulgence or self-negation? Now that Sonic Youth has become a bona fide institution, the band has lapsed into a weird insularity. Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo, Kim Gordon and Steve Shelley are compared to no one but themselves and, accordingly, they seem to draw influence from no one but themselves. Their last few albums have reflected this through plodding tempos, half-assed mumbling that slips from "slacker disaffection" to just plain boredom, and protracted noise jams that teeter between cacophony and caricature. The "youth" in Sonic Youth had always been sort of a joke — eldest member Gordon was already 27 when the group formed in 1980 — but by the turn of the millennium, the band no longer could even legitimately... More >>>