Sonic Youth: Kim Gordon (vocals, guitar, bass); Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo (vocals, guitar); Steve Shelley (drums). Thanks in part to a preceding series of self-released instrumental EP's, A THOUSAND LEAVES was among Sonic Youth's most highly anticipated releases. Public interest in underground electronica seems to have rekindled the band's interest in making experimental-minded rock albums. A THOUSAND LEAVES demonstrates why, 18 years after they formed in NYC, this band was still regarded as the most forward-looking unit in rock. On long tracks like "Wildflower Soul," "Hits of Sunshine (for Allen Ginsberg)," and "Karen Koltrane," the interplay between guitarists Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo leads the songs into elaborate and inspired instrumental passages that recall the group's late '80s heyday. As usual, Moore, Ranaldo, and Kim Gordon split up the vocal duties, but this time Kim's singing is gruffer, almost a bark on "The Ineffable Me," while Thurston sounds breathier and more relaxed than ever on "Snare, Girl." Recorded entirely at the band's own studio, A THOUSAND LEAVES feels carefully constructed and produced while still immediate. Even after a dozen albums, Sonic Youth can still come up with over an hour of intriguing and vital new material.