Lee Ranaldo & The Dust Last Night on Earth

Lee Ranaldo & The Dust Last Night on Earth
6
Quickly following on the heels of last year's Between the Times and the Tides, the ex-Sonic Youth guitarist stretches out to explore the more cosmic reaches of '70s-tinged rock. Where Times and the Tides reveled in adding a Laurel Canyon afterglow to its punchiness, Last Night largely has an acid crash sensibility, nervously surfing an unraveling psychedelic wave. Articles mentioning Ranaldo's study of Grateful Dead's live improvisations as a jumping off point shed light on this wiggy mindset, while co-experimenter Alan Licht proves an excellent foil for the journey. At times, the album recalls Blue Öyster Cult's brand of sci-fi damaged anthems more so than Garcia and company. The NYC influence upon the more pastoral themes may be to blame, but the fit of styles isn't always snug, or even loose in the appropriate ways to make the album work. At times, it's a little like witnessing NBA pros slum playing schoolyard pick-up ball. But there's enough great music, bolstered by co-SY alum Steve Shelley (drums) and a groove assist from keyboardist John Medeski, to recommend a listen. (Matador)