Static Taxi Closer 2 Normal

The late Replacements guitarist Bob Stinson was probably the most tragic figure in the American underground prior to Kurt Cobain, a notion that gives this much-belated release an air of trying to cast a more positive light on his final years. Recorded in 1988 and ’89, following his expulsion from the Mats, these ten tracks show no indication that Stinson’s turfing had anything to do with his ability. As the only guitarist here — as opposed to previously finding space within Paul Westerberg’s frameworks — his trademark without-a-net riffery can finally be appreciated in all its glory. However, that’s really the only point of interest in Closer 2 Normal. The rest of Static Taxi seems purposely shoved in the background, and vocalist Ray Reigstad is annoyingly intrusive at the best of times, making Stinson’s overall performance seem even more remarkable — for those who care about these things of course. Anyone who isn’t familiar with Stinson should probably go to the classic Replacements albums Let It Be and Tim first. But for fans who still feel they should have packed it in immediately following those records, Closer 2 Normal will give fresh insights into one of the most misunderstood figures in modern rock. (Birdman)