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NYC Ghosts & Flowers

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Editors’ Notes

Recorded soon after all of Sonic Youth's customized gear had been stolen, NYC Ghosts & Flowers shows the band searching for its sound. The beatnik poetry of "Small Flowers Crack Concrete" falls a bit short, but the Kim Gordon–led "Side2Side" does a much better job capturing the mystic allure of the band's more subdued work. Around the time of the new century, Sonic Youth was getting back to its avant-garde roots, with a series of off-label releases aimed directly at its most dedicated audience. NYC Ghosts & Flowers is an effort toward balancing the band's artful, noisy side with its songwriting efforts. The sound on this album, produced by future member Jim O'Rourke, is a tad dry. Lee Ranaldo's title track unintentionally sounds like an aggressive take on Smog's Bill Callahan, courtesy of Ranaldo's deliberately flat voice delivering spoken word. Prepared guitars influence several tracks. The album is both loved and disliked, inspiring critics to rank NYC Ghosts & Flowers among the band's best and worst releases. Like many of Sonic Youth's albums, it takes time to grow on you. 

Customer Reviews

Unrecognized brilliance

Definently one of my favourite Sonic Youth albums, though no one really gives them enough credibility for their more avant-garde works. It's ethereal.


Based on my introduction, I think it is more related to the spirit of sonic youth. I did take the time to listen to it. guess i'm "ghey."

a great record, credit where due

Okay, so few would call this the very best SY wax. It's in the top 40 or 50%, though. That may not sound like a 'hoorah', but considering the other albums... I have to laugh (sadly) when people take shots at Sonic Youth. Few, if any, rock musicians have set goals so high (without taking their cue). Well, I guess you love noisy, emotional, psychotic rock epics or you don't. I do.


Formed: 1981 in New York, NY

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Sonic Youth were one of the most unlikely success stories of underground American rock in the '80s. Where contemporaries R.E.M. and Hüsker Dü were fairly conventional in terms of song structure and melody, Sonic Youth began their career by abandoning any pretense of traditional rock & roll conventions. Borrowing heavily from the free-form noise experimentalism of the Velvet Underground and the Stooges, and melding it with a performance art aesthetic borrowed from the New York post-punk avant-garde,...
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