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A Thousand Leaves

58 customer reviews

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Audio CD, May 12, 1998
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

The ageless Sonic Youth return with a new, yet familiar, excursion into their own particular brand of ultra-amplified, dissonant rock. The quartet's CD A Thousand Leaves evokes fond memories of yesteryear's noisy, now-classic, avant-garde approach, while retaining snippets of traditional pop elements heard on several of their previous major-label releases. As Sonic Youth's music has gained a larger audience, they've preserved doses of the crunched melody and meandering structure that has always been their trademark. The new release sounds relatively unabashed, with wandering songs like "Female Mechanic Now on Duty" spewing extended barrages of feedback and Kim Gordon's dry, unsettling scowls at the listener. Look deeper, however, and there's a quiet resonance among the racket, with tracks like "Sunday" and "Snare, Girl" making use of Thurston Moore's cooler vocal tone and jagged, cascading guitar passages. --Matthew Cooke

Review

Packed with blank beats, squalling distortion, and ear- torturing discord, Leaves is bracing and abrasive in ways rock records rarely are. Easy listening it ain't. But neither is it much fun, and that's the problem. Although the Youth can balance consonance and dissonance to striking effect ... such slyly subverted pop is scarce. Instead, what we get are dour drones and self-indulgent noise- feats. -- Entertainment Weekly

Several of the chugging mid-tempo songs sound like half-baked garage jams badly in need of editing.... [T]oo many tracks beg for the strong hooks and the sonic youthfulness that marked earlier releases. -- USA Today

The 11 songs stretch out--literally: average track duration is seven minutes. Jams are kicked out, but only after they've been kicked back, in, and subjected to a most awesome battery of atonal abuse.... [H]ere we have rock at its most elemental, with no constraints or reservations.... Rarely has this band's philosophical schizophrenia--enthralled by rock tradition, yet impelled by the instinct to freak--been so cherishably realized.... [T]hey have built the most inspirational, poetic and beautiful temple to noise you're likely to encounter in 1998. Message from "the Youth" to "the Kids": disregard all previous sightings--this is hardcore. -- NME

The title of Sonic Youth's tenth album, A Thousand Leaves, betrays the reflective autumnal feel of the music. Kim Gordon has never sounded less demure and more riot grrrl angry than she does here.... [W]hat really keeps A Thousand Leaves vital is the continually inventive fretboard effects of Moore and Lee Ranaldo.... [Sonic Youth have not] outdone themselves here ... but they certainly have done themselves justice. Sonic Youth ... [is] still here because even when they're reaching within themselves, they're reaching way farther than most. -- Spin

Utilizing all manner of sound effects, from what seems like snatches of radio static and pumping steam pistons to dissonant guitar feedback, the band creates eerily hypnotic soundscapes over which [Kim] Gordon's vocals sound ethereal, angry or bemused, as if she's talking out loud during a bad dream. Moore's vocals, meanwhile, sound like those of Neil Young, whose disdain for traditional pop song structure he also seems to share. Some tracks are standouts ... and they demonstrate why this ... band has survived so long. -- People


Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Samples
Song Title Time Price
  1. Contre Le Sexism (Album Version) 3:55$1.29  Buy MP3 
  2. Sunday (Album Version) 4:52$1.29  Buy MP3 
  3. Female Mechanic Now On Duty (Album Version) 7:43$1.29  Buy MP3 
  4. Wildflower Soul (Album Version) 9:04$1.29  Buy MP3 
  5. Hoarfrost (Album Version) 5:01$1.29  Buy MP3 
  6. French Tickler (Album Version) 4:52$1.29  Buy MP3 
  7. Hits Of Sunshine (For Allen Ginsberg) (Album Version)11:05Album Only
  8. Karen Koltrane (Album Version) 9:20$1.29  Buy MP3 
  9. The Ineffable Me (Album Version) 5:21$1.29  Buy MP3 
10. Snare, Girl (Album Version) 6:38$1.29  Buy MP3 
11. Heather Angel (Album Version) 6:09$1.29  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 12, 1998)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Geffen
  • ASIN: B000006P0F
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,457 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Justin Oser on February 28, 1999
Format: Audio CD
I have almost every Sonic Youth album, including their supposed best "Sister" and "Daydream Nation" and this blows the rest of them away. It has lots of noise, which I love, but some of the best stuff on here has no noise. "Hoarfrost" is the most beautiful Sonic Youth song (maybe any song) I've ever heard, "Snare, Girl" is also quite beautiful. If you like albums full of songs that aren't afraid to go on for as long as it takes to make a complete song (the average song on here is almost seven minutes) and a good balance of noise and beauty, this is the album for you. I don't know if they'll ever top this one, but I can only hope their next album will.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 25, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Along with Washing Machine, A Thousand Leaves is a clear indication that Sonic Youth have transcended the barriers of punk, noise, avant-garde, etc. and have become coincident with the core of modern music and modern lyric poetry across all genres and forms. A Thousand Leaves, sporting long, autumnal, melodic meditations like Hits of Sunshine and Wildflower Soul along ennui-laden snapshots like Hoarfrost and Sunday, is a kind of symphony for the pop/rock age and is as deep and haunting as anything the classicists ever scribbled down on paper.
Now, I've heard and read any number of reviews referring to A Thousand Leaves as 'more experimental' and 'not very pop oriented' but of course these phrases are coming from the mouths of those that do not know much of the history of Sonic Youth or much of truly experimental music. Neubauten's 'Drawings of Patient O.T.' it's not -- in fact, I wouldn't refer to A Thousand Leaves as 'experimental' music in any sense of the word... But by the same token, if you're looking for hooks, hooks, hooks or the McDonald's-style music that SY cashed in with (and more power to them) during the 'grunge era' then this isn't the album for you.
If you own Sister and Daydream Nation, however, or even just Washing Machine, and listen to them all the time, unable to keep from tapping your feet and swaying just a little... Then A Thousand Leaves is another perfect Sonic Disc for you.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Chet Fakir on July 31, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Thuston Moore as the sentimental, warm, yet world broken artist, Kim Gordon the deconstructionist rocker and Lee Renaldo as the visionary beat poet? Hmmm, perhaps, though the roles are somewhat interchangable. This is a stellar album no matter how you break it down. Melodic, disonant, angry, sad and for the first time warm and beautiful. Sonic Youth continue the trend of introspective song writing begun with Washing Machine but they do it better on this album. Some may say that on some songs they lost their edge, I'd say they broadened their pallette (and extended their songs) Their musicianship and muse continues to change and grow. A very strong and emotional effort.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Autonomeus TOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 9, 2000
Format: Audio CD
It took me awhile to finally hear THOUSAND LEAVES after it was released, but luckily I did, and -- WOW! (I should have known based on the cool title, taken from the hip social theorists Deleuze & Guattari.) They *branched* out in an exciting new/old direction after several years of sonic stasis.

LEAVES has a very organic feel to it, even given Kim's occasional ranting. Mellower, yes, but deeper -- they've arrived at a rapprochement with psychedelia. This was hinted at on DAYDREAM NATION, on sides 1 and 4 in the long trippy jams, and on WASHING MACHINE with "Diamond Sea." But here it is integral to the whole, with the explicit homage to Allen Ginsberg, "Hits of Sunshine," and several long jams by Thurston and Lee. It makes sense, since both guitarists have been involved in the free jazz scene for years now. I love the irony of it. Once punks had nothing but scorn for hippies, which never made any sense to me -- I could always see the common countercultural elements -- and now the SY artpunks are playing jams that Jerry Garcia could be dropped into perfectly!

The rest of the world seemed to finally get excited and decide that SY was reborn with MURRAY STREET in 2002 (see my review), but that album sounds to me like LEAVES, PART II. My ears tell me that LEAVES marked a new sonic beginning -- it's one of SY's best records.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Franz Bonaparta on November 1, 2005
Format: Audio CD
This record kinda has the same crisp sound one could find on Washing Machine which is as great as this one.There are several reasons why this album is so impressive.First of all, lyricswise it's so inspired and coming from me it really means sthg as i'm not who usually pays attention to what the singer has to say. And this really blends in so well with the guitar and bass playing.I would also like to say that they do have a great sense of climax just listen to wild flower soul, at the end of the song the guitar burst into a wild symphonic coda before suddenly coming back to the initial theme. You also have a great variety of song structure not just the verse chorus verse you're used to and pleasz don't listen to those who say their songs are to long,their judgement is merely based on a stupid assumption that a song must last no more than 5 minutes(if you think about it that's because a radio has to bring ya commercials evry 4 or 5 minutes...) and I absolutely do not agree that Kim Gordon is a poor singer .Of course occasionaly she rants like on French Tickler but it adds a contrast to the song if you want the perfect exemple of her musical talents listen to little trouble on washing machine or kissability on DN or I love you Golden blue on the latest release Sonic Nurse.
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