Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Lee Ranaldo: Between the Times and the Tides


"At least "Off the Wall" has the energy and concision to break Ranaldo to a new audience-- alas, an audience he'll find via Toad the Wet Sprocket's Pandora station."

That's where you lose me. You don't even sound like a Lee Ranaldo fan. I love this album, and "Off the Wall" is not my favorite song, but it fits within the context of the album. "multiple banal solos, clumsy transitions guitar solos"? "Ranaldo's lyrics are either symptomatic or responsible for the album's banality"? Is Banal the word of the day? His lyrics are as great as ever! And I don't think anything is clumsy sounding, he's the co-inventor of Sonic Youth. This is his sound. ("My kingdom's dirty and my hands unclean.. illiusion comes with no remorse. hammer blows get heavy, and they're oft unseen. this pain is bound to run its course." - Great!) He's as personal and sincere as ever shown on a SY album. You sound like you listened to the record once, the night before the review deadline. Lee brought in some surprising instrumentations SY never used before- the pedal steel guitar, a lot of acoustics, Beatles chord progressions, etc etc. I also would note the 2 primarily acoustic tracks- "Hammer Blows" and "Stranded" are exceptional songs, no one knew Lee could pull off. It's great to hear his voice go so well with acoustic stuff, ala Bill Callahan style. The old SY noise sections were getting old after The Eternal came out. I prefer this! He made a better record than The Eternal. It's more interesting instrument-wise, there's no screaming vocally, the rock and roll side of Ranaldo comes out more than ever. Off the Wall mixes the vibe of early R.E.M. with Beatles choruses. It's an album that goes up and down, not every song has to be the best song. This is closer to where SY was when the glorious Rather Ripped came out. I love that album too. They trimmed the noise jams inside the songs, and stood more focused than ever. I give it a 9.2, cause if Lee stays on this track, the next album will be a 10. (and the extra .2 for beautifully packaging this on vinyl)