Lee Ranaldo: Between the Times and the Tides (Matador)

Lee Ranaldo: Xtina As I Knew Her
Lee Ranaldo: Between the Times and the Tides (Matador)

Anyone who doesn't hear a throbbing Flying Nun band turned up to 11 here -- Bats, Clean, some solo Chris Knox even -- just hasn't been paying attention.

There is a frisson of familiarity about the powerful chords and driving momentum of some of these songs (Lost, but Off the Wall especially where Ranaldo sounds like Michael Stipe fronting a Bats-Clean supergroup) but that takes nothing away from the sheer pleasure of hearing them, and of Ranaldo's obvious joy in playing a straight bat to indie-framed power-pop on memorable songs.

And he gets some pretty handy support from fellow Sonic Youth member Steve Shelley (drums), keyboard player John Medeski, onetime/sometime SYouth player Jim O'Rourke on bass, Nils Cline on guitar moonlighting from Wilco . . .

There's something of John Cale's veiled menace in places here too -- the gripping seven minute Xtina As I Knew her which soars and maybe even owes a debt to Tom Verlaine -- but the real appeal lies in the sonic and melodic directness here.

If SYouth's Thurston Moore unveiled his softer side on his recent Demolished Thoughts, Ranaldo -- with the exception of the acoustic Hammer Blows and the pastoral ballad Stranded -- sounds like he's not just keeping the faith with widescreen guitars (the incendiary opening work-out on Fire Island) but also the idea of a crisp, memorable and economic melody.  

This is a fine, often uncomplicated and deeply appealing collection which is bound to remind many Sonic Youth aficionados of just how much he has contributed to their extensive catalogue.

And if SYouth just seem too big a demand to explore because you arrived late, you could do a lot worse than start the journey here.

Like the sound of this? Then check out this.

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section

Various Artists: Time to Go; The Southern Psychedelic Movement 1981-86 (Flying Nun)

Various Artists: Time to Go; The Southern Psychedelic Movement 1981-86 (Flying Nun)

When I wrote the liner notes to a couple of collections of New Zealand psychedelic music from the late Sixties/Early Seventies (see here), I was obliged to offer the uncomfortable reminder to... > Read more

Michael Kiwanuka: Home Again (Universal)

Michael Kiwanuka: Home Again (Universal)

London-born to Ugandan parents, Michael Kiwanuka has become something of a "next big thing" in the British music scene, but on the evidence of this quietly confident debut album he seems... > Read more

New Elsewhere

THE BARGAIN BUY: Roxy Music; Original Classic Albums

THE BARGAIN BUY: Roxy Music; Original Classic Albums

While it is only right and proper to acclaim the first two Eno-period Roxy Music albums as their finest for the innovation and sheer gall of their arthouse conceit, it is also unfair to dismiss... > Read more

GUEST SONGWRITER GREG FLEMING recalls making his new album Forget the Past

GUEST SONGWRITER GREG FLEMING recalls making his new album Forget the Past

A Sunday morning 2012. My daughter’s waiting for her poached eggs, my fiancĂ© is checking out travel deals on the net (a much promised, much delayed New Mexico holiday - making records... > Read more