- This is an Enhanced CD, which contains both regular audio tracks and multimedia computer files.
- Sonic Youth: Thurston Moore (vocals, guitar, tack piano); Lee Ranaldo (vocals, guitar, Hammond B-3 organ, melodica); Kim Gordon (vocals, guitar, bass, dilruba); Jim O'Rourke (guitar, bass, electronics); Steve Shelley (accordion, drums, sarangi, percussion).
- Additional personnel: Donald Dietrich, James Sauter (saxophone).
- Recorded at Echo Canyon, New York, New York between August 2001 & March 2002.
- Virtually every album Sonic Youth has released since the underrated Goo has been hailed as a return to form. However, Murray Street, their second collaboration with Jim O'Rourke (and their first with him as a full member of the group), not only recalls their past glories but explores new territory. Freed from the trendy agendas that marred A Thousand Leaves and NYC Ghosts & Flowers, the group revisits the complex, transcendent guitar epics that made them underground rock heroes in the first place. But Murray Street doesn't just rehash the sound of their late-'80s heyday, either; for the most part, epics like the '60s-tinged "The Empty Page" and "Rain on Tin" -- which sounds a bit like a rural cousin to Television's "Marquee Moon" -- are built on surprisingly clean, crisp guitar tones that only explode into occasional noise-storms. Indeed, the guitar work on the album's first three tracks is both economical and sensual, a feast of textures and counterpoints that never sounds overdone. Murray Street's wonderfully natural yet intricate sound is O'Rourke's most distinctive contribution to the group; while his work with Smog and Wilco pushed those groups to be more experimental and eclectic, with Sonic Youth he seems to give those tendencies focus and balance. Even the hypnotic drones at the end of "Karen Revisited," the album's noisy, oddly romantic centerpiece, have a unique precision and clarity. Murray Street's first four songs rank among the most consistent, and consistently exciting, work in Sonic Youth's career, so much so that the album's shorter, more rock-oriented songs feel a bit anticlimactic. "Plastic Sun," a Kim Gordon-sung rant, feels particularly out of keeping with the rest of Murray Street's warm, expansive tone; "Radical Adults Lick Godhead Style" is a typical Sonic Youth rocker that suffers merely from not being as good as the first half of the album. Closing with the serenely sexy "Sympathy for the Strawberry," Murray Street reaffirms that at the group's best, Sonic Youth manages to sound fresh and timeless all at once. ~ Heather Phares
Rolling Stone (12/26/02, p.107) - Included in Rolling Stone's "50 Best Albums of 2002"
Rolling Stone (7/25/02, p.74) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...Achieves that rare thing for any band - real consistency. It's the band's gift to its broken home, a set of good songs, a lesson in reconciliation."
Spin (8/02, p.109) - 6 out of 10- "...They reaffirmed their art-punk cred...this time around, the band square their artier tendencies with their sweet tooth for classic psych-rock, slipping New Yawk punk solos and acid-folk riffs half remembered from old Grateful Dead records..."
Entertainment Weekly (12/20-27/02, p.128) - Ranked #7 on EW's list of 2002's "Albums of the Year"
Entertainment Weekly (6/28/02, p.142) - "...A near perfect, guitar-shaped phoenix...a balance--between formlessness and structure, melody and cacophony..." - Rating: A-
Q (6/02, p.123) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...MURRAY STREET is an essay in coolly assured, sophisticated leftfield rock...full of scintillating tunes....A lightness of touch that renders this their finest album since DAYDREAM NATION."
Uncut (1/03, p.97) - Ranked #63 in Uncut's "100 Best Albums of the Year"
The Wire (06/02, p.53) - "...A joyful return to their No Wave hardcore rock roots with a vibrating set of muscular songs which glide effortlessly from gooey power pop to full on guitarmageddon meltdown..."
CMJ (12/30/02, p.8) - Ranked #1 (Album of the Year) on CMJ's "Top 10 of 2002"
CMJ (1/6/03, p.20) - Included in CMJ's list of "Top 25 College Radio Albums of All Time"
CMJ (6/24/02, p.5) - "...The strongest rock disc the group has churned out since at least the mid-'90s, and it marks a turnabout from the free-form experimentation of their recent work..."
Mojo (Publisher) (7/02, p.92) - "...A disc that interweaves their populist and elitist obsessions with more balance and cohesion than ever..."