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A Thousand Leaves by Sonic Youth
Released: May 1998
Sonic Youth always explored texture, but this album is focused on that mission in ways not heard on a song-based collection since Confusion Is Sex. (The band headlined Lollapalooza so they could buy their own studio and go deep like this.) Track times get longer than on other major-label outings, with Lee's "Karen Koltrane" moving through lots of twists in its nine-plus minutes, and Thurston's "Hits of Sunshine" taking pleasure in working one idea into the ground for even longer. By announcing the end of their effort to court radio, they also figured out what to do with their next decade.
Seth Colter Walls
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