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album review: lee ranaldo, between the times and the tides

Most of you know Lee Ranaldo as a guitarist and vocalist for Sonic Youth. But what you may not know is that Lee Ranaldo is also a published poet and a visual artist. Between The Times And The Tides is his eighth solo album.

I’ll be  thefirst to admit that I have never heard a Sonic Youth song. Growing up I listened to a lot of quintessential Aussie rock along with the classic songs many of us still enjoy today. It’s those younger years that gave me an appreciation for talented musicians.

Between The Times And The Tides is an album slightly reminiscent of the days of classic rock. Lee Ranaldo is one of those musicians I wish I had the chance to grow up knowing. In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine named him the 33rd Greatest Guitarist Of All Time, and this album is a reflection of his incredible talent.

Alternative would best describe Lee Ranaldo’s sound. Think of a heavier and sombre version of Diesel, but with a rock ‘n’ roll edge and you’ve got Lee Ranaldo.

There’s always something so unique and special about the songs produced by true musicians and this album is no different. ‘Xtina As I Knew Her’ and ‘Fire Island (Phases)’ showcase his incredible talent with guitar solos that could go on for days.

There are times on the album where Lee Ranaldo alternates between singing and spoken word, perhaps an ode to his love of poetry. However it is on ‘Hammer Blows’ that I am dumbfounded as to why Lee is screeching, as if he’s almost attempting to imitate an electric guitar. Does it make for something different? Sure, but I’m glad it’s contained to only that song.

‘Tomorrow Never Comes’ talks about the isolation many feel working in a large city. So many people rushing by one another, lost and lonely souls until they arrive home to their loved ones. It’s an honest reflection of society as we know it.

Between The Times And The Tides reminds me of a live concert recording. The almost muffled and echoing sound of his voice adds another dimension, but the primary instrument, the guitar, is the star of the album.

‘Xtina As I Knew Her’ follows the classic storytelling method of song writing, something missing from much of mainstream music. It is what I most love about this album; spending time analysing the lyrics of each song, gaining my own sense of understanding and appreciation of what Lee Ranaldo observes.

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