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Lee Ranaldo And The Dust – 'Last Night on Earth' album review

The ex-Sonic Youth guitarist and his new group showcase a warm, mature sound

Lee Ranaldo And The Dust – Last Night On Earth
By James Manning |
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Now that Sonic Youth are no longer a going concern, the members of one of alt rock’s greatest bands are finding new ways to occupy their time. Kim Gordon is making challenging-but-rewarding avant-garde guitar noise with Bill Nace as Body/Head. Thurston Moore has started a new group called Chelsea Light Moving, moved to London and can often be found skronking out at Café Oto in Dalston (so far he’s blown their priceless Fender Twin amp twice). Oh, and – in case you missed the memo – the other half of the classic Sonic Youth line-up are still working together.

Founding guitarist Lee Ranaldo has recruited the band’s long-term drummer Steve Shelley as part of his new band The Dust, and (after last year’s profound-but-patchy ‘Between the Times and the Tides’) made a second album of hippyish freak-rock. ‘Last Night on Earth’ is a thoroughly mature album that concentrates and intensifies the sweeping warmth of Ranaldo’s songs for his old band, as well as paying tribute to some of the musician’s earliest influences: Neil Young, The Byrds and The Grateful Dead.

‘Lecce, Leaving’ starts the album magnificently, exploding from a strummed, country-rock verse and chorus into a wah-filled freak-out. The acid groove of ‘Blackt Out’ concludes things with an extended outro that wouldn’t be out of place on ‘Murray Street’ or ‘Washing Machine’. Between those two points there’s the odd bit of flab – the harpsichord on ‘Late Descent No 2’ is a step too far into full-on pomp-rock territory, and occasionally the production tends towards the soft end of things – but it’s more or less outweighed by the album’s spot-on instrumental performances (using some of Ranaldo’s infinite supply of weird guitar tunings) and some poignant songwriting. No, it’s not Sonic Youth – but at its best, it might be as close as you’ll get nowadays. Buy this album here

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