[sic] Magazine

Lee Ranaldo And The Dust – Last Night On Earth

It’s been a busy year for the Sonic Youth alum. First, Thurston Moore introduced us to his invigorating Chelsea Light Moving and then Kim Gordon her awkward art-noise project Body/Head . Not to be outdone, Lee Ranaldo and Steve Shelley , along with Alan Licht and bassist Tim Lüntzel now table Last Night On Earth . And, straight off the bat, it’s refreshing to hear a retro guitar album that draws from the likes of REM and Idlewild rather than from flashier or more on-trend candidates.

Owing to the patient construct of these nine lengthy tracks Ranaldo is given the freedom to choose when to flex the guitar skills for which he is famed. You therefore get laidback exercises in singer-songwriting like “Key-Hole”, which comes on a bit like that last guitar-heavy Richard Hawley LP, rubbing shoulders with more raucous affairs like “Home Chds”, during which Ranaldo duly opts to get all mesmeric with his axe.

In the main though, Last Night On Earth is just a good quality, old-world kind of alt-rock album where songs are important and outsider edge meant at it does here: light toastings of noise combined with considered dustings of technique. What this also means is that certain passages are, unfortunately, a bit dull – the album’s midsection littered with solid but unadventurous endeavours that either resort to noisy blowouts or flashes of fret-borne excitement to compensate.

The Americana-inflected “Lecce, Leaving” gets it right though, as much about the relationship between Ranaldo and his pedals as it is about Shelley and his skins. The dark “Ambulancer” too gets straight to it and is all the better for it, whereas the 12-minute closer “Blackt Out”, on which Ranaldo shouts the title repeatedly, saves the most impressive guitar work on the album ‘til last, the resultant heavy jam coming together wonderfully – though it does go on some it must be said. Nevertheless, there is such a thing as a good “six out of ten” and Last Night On Earth makes it into an art form.

Advised downloads: “Home Chds” and “Ambulancer”.

~ Last Night On Earth is released October 7th 2013 on Matador .~