Lee Ranaldo: Between The Times and Tides


With the future of his main act Sonic Youth in doubt, Lee Ranaldo has put together a gorgeous collection of tracks that fuzz and burn into ear drums on Between the Times and the Tides, his first full rock band solo album. There are so many layers of sound presented here it is hard to distinguish what is what, but the fun is just giving in and flowing along down the river of six-strings, feedback, tape-loops, organ pulses and snapping snares.  Playing with a dynamic group of musicians that includes Nels Cline, John Medeski, Alan Licht and SY drummer Steve Shelley (as well as others) has Ranaldo focusing on song oriented offerings that are tight yet far from restrictive. 

The easy rolling sound on “Shouts” in particular is enveloping with production a mile deep, laced with background vocals and samples that add color to the vibrating guitars, light cymbals and B-3 bubbling.  Intentionally closing things with the Beatles influenced “Tomorrow Never Comes” keeps that fantastic sounds going and leaves the listener upbeat, despite the foreboding title.  

Ranaldo has always presented a spoken word/slam poetry approach to lyrics and that is true again, although there are moments that rise above the norm vocally, like on the chorus to the immediately catchy first single “Off The Wall”.  “Angles” is another shot in the arm with keyboard squiggles and backing vocals pushing the tempo up and up while “Lost” has an almost pop appeal ending via beautiful crescendo.    

The slow burners are just as effective as the quicker tunes; “Xtina As I Knew Her” is emotional with multiple tracked guitars and lyrics that tell a life story.  An early screeching intro gives way to a tension/release excursion out on “Fire Island (phases)”.  Acoustic strumming features more prominently on “Hammer Blows” which masks the power in the lyrics until the odd vocal wah-wah noises which are a misstep, one of the rare mistakes from Ranaldo and company on this release.

Along with last years Demolished Thoughts by Thurston Moore, Between The Times & The Tides proves that Sonic Youth fans still have it good with both axe slingers putting out some of the strongest solo work they have ever produced.

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