Sonic Youth was an American rock band from New York City, formed in 1981. Founding members Thurston Moore (guitar, vocals), Kim Gordon (bass guitar, vocals, guitar) and Lee Ranaldo (guitar, vocals) remained together for the entire history of the band, while Steve Shelley (drums) followed a series of short-term drummers in 1985, and rounded out the core line-up. In their early career Sonic Youth were associated with the no wave art and music scene in New York City. Part of the first wave of American noise rock groups, the band carried out their interpretation of the hardcore punk ethos throughout the evolving American underground that focused more on the DIY ethic of the genre rather than its specific sound.
Washing Machine reached No. 58 on the US Billboard Top 200 chart and No. 39 on the UK Albums Chart. The album features more open-ended pieces than its predecessors and contains some of the band's longest songs, including the 20-minute ballad "The Diamond Sea", which is the lengthiest track to feature on any of Sonic Youth's studio albums. Two songs from the album, "The Diamond Sea" and "Little Trouble Girl", were released as singles. The album received generally positive reviews from music critics, who praised the band for exploring new challenges as well as the guitar playing between band members Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo.