Lee Ranaldo: “Off The Wall”

A fine morning thus far, thanks to Julia Holter, Leonard Cohen and, as I type, the new album by Lee Ranaldo, “Between The Times & The Tides”.

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A fine morning thus far, thanks to Julia Holter, Leonard Cohen and, as I type, the new album by Lee Ranaldo, “Between The Times & The Tides”.

“Between The Times…” is the first Ranaldo solo project to grapple with more orthodox songforms. While last year’s Thurston Moore album “Demolished Thoughts” notionally stripped back the Sonic Youth sound, a good few of the tracks here appear to supercharge it.

Early days to judge this properly, but it does sound very good on first listen, not least because Ranaldo has wisely built a band, to showcase his rare songs, that could reasonably be a match for the apparently moribund Sonic Youth: Nels Cline and Alan Licht on guitars; Irwin Menken on bass; John Medeski on keys; plus Youth alumni Steve Shelley and Bob Bert (drums) and the elusive Jim O’Rourke (bass). “Fire Island (Phases)” is playing right now, and it flits between inventive expansions and Deadlike country rock in just the way longterm Ranaldo admirers – who’ve long lamented the scarcity of his songs on Youth albums – might have hoped.

We’ll talk about all this later, then. But in the meantime, Matador have just released the first track for public consumption. It’s called “Off The Wall” and you can hear it here: oceanic strums Ranaldo’s usual quizzical resonance, a clear path from Sonic Youth, and a pretty poppy core. Let me know, as ever, what you think.

Follow me on Twitter: @JohnRMulvey

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