cover image Confusion Is Next

Confusion Is Next

Alec Foege. St. Martin's Griffin, $14.95 (274pp) ISBN 978-0-312-11369-8

The unconventional history and experimental music of Sonic Youth, a seminal, New York-based post-punk band, should make a compelling story. Emerging from the punk-rock culture and avant-garde New York art scene of the 1970s, Sonic Youth has produced a myriad of records and side projects, and inspired scores of other bands with its glamorous bohemian poses, dedication to the underground art world and a noisy punk sound marked by unorthodox guitar tunings and screeching feedback. An unabashed admirer, Spin contributing editor Foege's solemn panegyric fails to pierce the band's cool veneer, throwing little light on its enigmatic members and aesthetic inconsistencies. Through interviews with the band's friends and collaborators, Foege meticulously charts its links to New York's ``no wave'' music scene of the late '70s, the grass-roots punk culture of the early '80s and the widespread assimilation of ``indie'' rock by the mainstream music industry in the early '90s. By contrast, he gives short shrift to the band's private lives (sorely absent are details of the marriage and recent parenthood of vocalists Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon). This will be of significance mainly to record collectors and fans. Photos. (Nov.)