The queen of 80s and 90s New York cool, an integral figure in the no-wave musical movement, and a founding member of NYC’s most important rock group outside of The Velvet Underground, Kim Gordon has done a lot over the course of her four-decade-long career.
Today, we take a look at five key albums from one of music’s most influential women.
From Confusion Is Sex to No Home Record, we take a look at five albums that have helped shape the iconic career of Kim Gordon.
Sonic Youth – Confusion Is Sex (1983)
Confusion Is Sex, the 1983 debut full-length record from Sonic Youth, still holds up as one of Kim Gordon’s most abrasive and raw musical offerings. The band’s three founding members, Kim Gordon, Thurston Moore, and Lee Ranaldo, developed a twisted new method of making sounds. They experimented with bizarre tunings, clattering percussion, and droning guitars, creating a sound that perfectly represented the grimy New York City of the day.
This album is by no means an easy listen, however, it remains one of the most important releases in Gordon’s discography. From the whirring opening moments of (She’s In A) Bad Mood to the mangled and chaotic noises of Freezer Burn/I Wanna Be Yr. Dog, Confusion Is Sex laid the groundwork for one of history’s most iconic bands.
Sonic Youth – Daydream Nation (1988)
All through the 80s, after they released Confusion Is Sex, Sonic Youth experimented with a wide range of sonic developments. Over the course of their next three studio albums — Bad Moon Rising (1985), Evol (1986), and Sister (1987) — the band started to realise how these far-reaching and discordant sounds could fit together. Their next release, Daydream Nation, would turn out to be the most ambitious and cohesive album they ever put to record.
This monster of a record, like most Sonic Youth albums, is not one that you can just throw on in the background. Daydream Nation deserves an hour of your full attention. Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo contorted their droning guitars into a mangled symphony and Kim Gordon laid down some of the most brutal bass lines of her career. Over 30 years removed from its initial release, Daydream Nation remains one of rock music’s most monumental and influential works.
Free Kitten – Nice Ass (1995)
In 1992, as Sonic Youth were gearing up to release their seventh studio album Dirty, Kim Gordon and Pussy Galore’s Julie Cafritz embarked on a new project, Free Kitten. While they put out a string of smaller releases between ’92 and ’94, Nice Ass is considered their first proper full-length album. Although much of Free Kitten’s music was made in the Sonic Youth mould, it marked Gordon’s first expedition away from Moore and Ranaldo.
Nice Ass was merely a precursor for the wild music that Gordon would go on to make after Sonic Youth ended.
Body/Head – Coming Apart (2013)
Kim Gordon struck up a creative relationship with Bill Nace in 2011. On their first record together, Coming Apart, released under the name Body/Head, the duo strip the chaotic arrangements of Gordon’s previous projects back to a minimalist but full-bodied din. With both members playing guitar and Gordon singing, Coming Apart is a pool of harsh, scratching tones. Truly anxiety-inducing stuff.
Coming Apart marked the first chapter in the bold next stage of Kim Gordon’s career. Since this record’s release, her and Nace have put out another two albums together, each better than the last. But this 70-minute double LP remains one of Gordon’s most ambitious projects.
Kim Gordon – No Home Record (2019)
At age 66, Kim Gordon dropped her first solo record. Last year, after 38 years of making music, Gordon unleashed No Home Record into the world, proving that her penchant for experimentation has not even slightly ceased over the course of her career.
From mangled trap music to narcotised drone-rock, No Home Record covers a lot of ground. The album may, at first glance, seem like an unexpected left turn for Gordon. But at its core, No Home Record represents everything that makes Kim Gordon great; it’s a work of magnificent scope that refuses to be categorised, just like its creator.