Sonic Life

Doubleday. Oct. 2023. 496p. ISBN 9780385548656. $35. MEMOIR
Sonic Youth is the band most identified with noise rock, the genre known for its electric cacophony and disregard for traditional song structure—an early offshoot of punk that came out of New York City not long after the Ramones and Talking Heads. Sonic Youth’s seminal 1988 album Daydream Nation is an iconic example of what later became alternative rock and helped pave the way for the late ’80s/early ’90s grunge movement. Guitarist/singer/songwriter Moore, who founded Sonic Youth with bassist/guitarist/singer (and then-wife) Kim Gordon, recounts his part in the revolution in this lengthy, absorbing memoir. Moore’s ability to recreate on the page scenes and moments from his life makes much of the reading engrossing. He recalls with sharp detail the highs and lows of his life as a young musician making his way towards notoriety or, at the very least, his next meal. He shares unique encounters with several notable musicians and artists throughout the book in a way that feels natural, not pompous.
VERDICT Moore’s compelling (if lengthy) memoir covers an era in rock music that is just beginning to get its due.
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