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Between the Times and the Tides

4.3 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Audio CD, March 20, 2012
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Editorial Reviews

Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo presents his first proper, song-oriented studio album this March. Recorded with longstanding Sonic Youth producer John Agnello, the album is a shimmering and melodic tapestry of rock sounds. Ranaldo's trademark alternate-tuning guitar work is at the forefront, but it is amplified by brilliant leadwork from Wilco's Nels Cline on every track. The all-star lineup also includes Sonic Youth's Steve Shelley on drums, Alan Licht on guitar, and John Medeski on keyboards. There are also cameos from original Sonic Youth drummer Bob Bert and Jim O'Rourke.

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Waiting On A Dream
  2. Off The Wall
  3. Xtina As I Knew Her
  4. Angles
  5. Hammer Blows
  6. Fire Island (phases)
  7. Lost (plane t Nice)
  8. Shouts
  9. Stranded
  10. Tomorrow Never Comes


Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 20, 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Matador Records
  • ASIN: B006Y4Y80O
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #132,587 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
It happened a couple of years ago when I was listening to "Goo" by Sonic Youth. The song "Mote" came on, and I had a minor epiphany. That epiphany was, "I really like Lee Ranaldo songs." I soon made a mix CD with "Mote", "In The Kingdom #19", "Genetic", "Karen Revisited", and so on. I became a Lee fan, and was quite frustrated that he only had one or two songs per album where he sang the lead (not that there's anything wrong with listening to Thurston or Kim).

"Between The Times & The Tides" is basically an album made for someone like me. The Lee fan. It is an album of ten wonderfully written songs where Lee sings the lead. While the songwriting is complicated and dense, the album is also quite listenable. There are not too many weird tangents into dissonance, which is actually quite refreshing from a member of Sonic Youth. If you want that from Lee, you can go to Texts of Light, some of the SYR albums, or even some of his previous solo albums. This album is best summed up in a single word: pleasant. It came out today, and I have listened to it three times so far, and am ready for my fourth. Every song except one sunk in immediately. On subsequent listens, even the song that bothered sounded good (to the point that I cannot even remember which song was the troublesome track).

If you are a Sonic Youth fan, and especially a Lee fan, you will probably not be disappointed in this album. If you are a general music fan who stumbled across this review, I'd say that "Between The Times & The Tides" would probably be one of the safest gambles as an entry point into the complex Sonic Youth-related oeuvre.
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Format: Audio CD
This is the album of song oriented material that Sonic Youth fans have been waiting for Lee to put out, and it's pretty darn wonderful. Yes, it will remind you of Sonic Youth (how could it not) but this is very much Lee's own thing. The songs are direct and emotional, with plenty of guitar fireworks (sometimes reminding me of Television) courtesy of Lee and Nels Cline. That said, it's still a very understated album that takes a few listens to sink in, and when it does, the beauty of it all really hits home. Side two (on lp) seems to be all of a piece as the songs play off each other beautifully. And it has a slice of true guitar pop heaven in "Lost". A must have.
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Format: Audio CD
Lee Ranaldo's occasional songs on Sonic Youth albums were often some of my favorites, fitted with streamy strings of narrative and interesting noise-as-sculpture riffs. The songs would spiral outwards, collapse inwards, dissolve into noise, or get really pretty and haunting (i.e. "Hoarfrost.") It was a great foil to the stuff the other band members were bringing to the table, and the relative infrequency of his songs left a person wanting more. Maybe the thought "I wonder what a whole album of this would sound like?" crossed your mind, too?

Well, this is not that album, exactly; nor is it another in his long line of fascinating improv and noise releases like East Jesus, Clouds, or Scriptures Of The Golden Eternity. Outside of his unmistakeable tangles of guitar sound, this album doesn't really resemble an S.Y. offering, and he's tempered his prose and turned in a set of songs with earthier ambition that he composed on acoustic guitars. The lyrics are often even slightly frustrating in their straightforwardness, since we know Lee the published poet is capable of startlingly vivid imagery. But that is really one of the only minor subtractions that can be made against Between The Times And The Tides, an otherwise refreshing album that hits most of the buttons that draw people to Ranaldo in the first place.

Contrarily, from its opening notes BTTATT suggests otherwise, as the familiar chug of "Waiting On A Dream" has the same propulsive chime and ever-so-slight Eastern drone that later period SY album offerings like "Rats" had. Ranaldo's unadorned, unpolished voice rides the crest of the song over bubbling keyboard noises provided by John Medeski.
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Format: Audio CD
I love Sonic Youth, and I always get a little excited when that hollow, slightly offkey guitar picks up, sounding like it's coming at me through a tunnel, to signal one of Lee's songs. They're few, but I usually think they're among the best songs on the albums, so I was eager to hear this. Yet I didn't quite know what to expect: Would the whole album have that familiar hollow sound? Did I want it to? Or would that get monotonous?

There's definitely more variety here than with Lee's SY songs. "Waiting on a Dream" and "Xtina as I Knew Her" are exactly what SY fans would expect: sound and lyrics combining to give the music the spare, lost feel that most of Lee's compositions have. But that aesthetic doesn't define the album. The songs quickly move toward more typical melodic rock. "Hammer Blows" and "Stranded" sound folky. "Fire Island" is a medley of different rock styles. I'd put the album's sound somewhere between R.E.M., Neil Young, and Sonic Nurse. It's not bad, but it doesn't really stand out. There's not enough flair, not enough freshness. I can like most of the songs if I try to, but when I forget to try, they get a little dull.

I think Lee was right to diversify his sound in this album, and I'll definitely listen to whatever he does next. But this album is only decent, not outstanding, and decent albums are a dime a dozen. I might listen to this one a couple more times. I might put a couple songs on my iPod for a while. But that's it.
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