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Murray Street is the twelfth studio album by American rock band Sonic Youth, released on June 25, 2002 by DGC Records.

Murray Street
Murray Street (album).jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedJune 25, 2002
RecordedAugust 2001 – March 2002
StudioEcho Canyon, New York City
ProducerSonic Youth
Sonic Youth chronology
In the Fishtank 9
Murray Street
Sonic Nurse


Background and recordingEdit

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 the band's Echo Canyon studio in New York City, following their final NYC Ghosts and Flowers/Goodbye to the 20th Century tour. The first release of material from the sessions was the song "Plastic Sun", on a promotional CD included with an issue of Jane magazine. However, due to an error in the pitch, the band re-released the song on their website.[2] Recording sessions reached an unexpected halt on September 11, 2001 following the terrorist attacks, as the band instead led a Trade Center benefit festival on October 9.[3] Several other benefits and gigs led them to their rescheduled March 17, 2002 appearance at the All Tomorrow's Parties festival in Los Angeles, California. By then, recording and mixing for the album was complete and all seven tracks (first revealed on the band website) were played at the festival.[4] The new material was hailed as a return to the style of distorted and complex instrumentals that made the band underground favorites.[5]


Art director Frank Olinsky led the conception of the cover designs. The young blonde-haired girl pictured to the right on the album's cover was Coco Hayley Moore, Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon's daughter, picking strawberries with her friend, Stella, who was on the left. No title was shown on the cover, just a scrawled "SONIC YOUTH". The three-page, double-sided CD booklet, whose cover featured a reverse color image of the CD cover, included liner notes, photographs and album credits. The back cover depicted the Murray Street street sign.[4]


In early June 2002, Murray Street was released in Japan with the bonus track, "Street Sauce".[6] June 10 was the release date in Europe and June 25 was the release in North America. In France, 500 copies came with a limited-edition bonus blue 10" EP, 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 was enhanced, including a screen saver and 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 edition was released on the Smells Like Records Goofin imprint.[4]

Upon release, Murray Street was a moderate success, peaking at number 126 on the Billboard 200.[7]

Critical receptionEdit

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
AllMusic     [9]
Blender     [10]
Entertainment WeeklyA−[11]
The Guardian     [12]
Los Angeles Times    [13]
Q     [16]
Rolling Stone     [17]

Murray Street received a score of 82 out of 100 from Metacritic based on "universal acclaim".[8] 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".[11] Playlouder gave the album 4.5 out of 5 stars 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 8 of 10 stars 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 8 out of 10 and said, "Whether they came on board at Daydream Nation or Experimental Jet Set, true believers will relish this one".[8] Uncut gave it 4 of 5 stars, and said that the album "contains some of the best music Sonic Youth have recorded since the landmark Daydream Nation in 1988".[8] Blender also gave it 4 of 5 stars and said of Sonic Youth, "They've got more sweet-and-bitter guitar muscle than ever".[8] Q likewise gave the album 4 stars and called it "an essay in coolly assured, sophisticated leftfield rock, occasionally laden with trademark discordance yet also full of scintillating tunes".[8] 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 4 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".[8] Spin likewise gave the album a score of 8 out of 10 and said, "This time around, the band square their artier tendencies with their sweet tooth for classic psych-rock".[8] No Ripcord gave it 8 of 10 stars 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 3.5 out of 5 stars and said that it "features less avant-garde noodling and more straight-up Youth".[8] However, The Village Voice gave it a mixed review and said, "The new album isn't terrible, just dull".[24] Kludge included it on their list of best albums of 2002.[25] Robert Christgau, who was somewhat unimpressed in his original Village Voice review, later said that "Murray's song-soundscape fusion ... sounded strong" in retrospect.[26]


The Wire named Murray Street its record of the year for 2002.[27] Pitchfork placed Murray Street at number 108 in their list of the 200 greatest albums of the 2000s.[28]

Track listingEdit

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

1."The Empty Page"Moore4:20
2."Disconnection Notice"Moore6:24
3."Rain on Tin"Moore7:56
4."Karen Revisited"Ranaldo11:10
5."Radical Adults Lick Godhead Style"Moore4:27
6."Plastic Sun"Gordon2:14
7."Sympathy for the Strawberry"Gordon9:06
Total length:45:37

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

Chart positionsEdit


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


  1. ^ "Murray Street - Review". Retrieved March 21, 2015.
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  5. ^ "Sonic Youth Biography". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on December 2, 2013. Retrieved September 18, 2018.
  6. ^ "Sonic Youth Strolls Down Murray Street". Retrieved February 21, 2015.
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  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Reviews for Murray Street by Sonic Youth". Metacritic. Retrieved April 27, 2013.
  9. ^ Phares, Heather. "Murray Street – Sonic Youth". AllMusic. Retrieved April 27, 2013.
  10. ^ Wolk, Douglas (August 2002). "Sonic Youth: Murray Street". Blender (8): 122. Archived from the original on August 15, 2004. Retrieved July 9, 2016.
  11. ^ a b Hermes, Will (June 28, 2002). "Murray Street". Entertainment Weekly (660–661): 142. Retrieved June 22, 2013.
  12. ^ Perry, Andrew (June 14, 2002). "Sonic Youth: Murray Street (Geffen)". The Guardian. Retrieved January 15, 2016.
  13. ^ Kuipers, Dean (June 23, 2002). "Sonic Youth 'Murray Street' Geffen". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 15, 2016.
  14. ^ Naylor, Tony (June 14, 2002). "Sonic Youth : Murray Street". NME. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved April 27, 2013.
  15. ^ Mitchum, Rob (June 25, 2002). "Sonic Youth: Murray Street". Pitchfork. Retrieved April 27, 2013.
  16. ^ "Sonic Youth: Murray Street". Q (191): 123. June 2002.
  17. ^ Powers, Ann (July 2, 2002). "Murray Street". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 27, 2013.
  18. ^ Gross, Joe (August 2002). "Guided By Voices: Universal Truths and Cycles / Sonic Youth: Murray Street". Spin. 18 (8): 110–13. Retrieved January 15, 2016.
  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. ^ "The Best of 2002". Kludge. Archived from the original on July 22, 2004. Retrieved November 25, 2015.
  26. ^ Christgau, Robert (June 13, 2006). "Rather Exhilarating". The Village Voice. Retrieved February 3, 2017.
  27. ^ "Rewind 2002: 50 Records of the Year". The Wire. No. 227. London. January 2003. p. 45 – via Exact Editions.
  28. ^ Harvell, Jess (September 29, 2009). "Staff Lists: The Top 200 Albums of the 2000s: 150–101 | Features | Pitchfork". Pitchfork. Retrieved April 27, 2013.
  29. ^ "Sonic Youth – Murray Street". (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved January 16, 2013.
  30. ^ "Sonic Youth – Murray Street". Ultratop (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved January 16, 2013.
  31. ^ "Sonic Youth – Murray Street". (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved January 16, 2013.
  32. ^ "Album – Sonic Youth, Murray Street". Media Control Charts (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved January 16, 2013.
  33. ^ "Discography Sonic Youth". Hung Medien. Retrieved January 16, 2013.
  34. ^ "Sonic Youth – Murray Street". Hung Medien. Retrieved January 16, 2013.