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Lee Ranaldo is a co-founder of noise icons Sonic Youth, and he continues to make sparks with guitars on his own. That said, 'Acoustic Dust' lives up to its name: the record was made to kill time while on a leg of tour that fell through, and was inspired by recent acoustic shows Ranaldo and his band had performed. The result is a record that stands as a brief document of the time Ranaldo went acoustic -- those days are long behind him now, but 'Acoustic Dust' recalls them.
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- Acoustic Dust by Lee Ranaldo and The Dust
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Following the messy and much-publicised demise of his former band, Lee Ranaldo's 'Between the Times and Tides' remains, to my ears at least, the best of the post-SY records and a cut above ex-bandmate Moore's similarly-styled efforts. Then Ranaldo formed The Dust, though, and the album 'Last Night On Earth' which followed was worthy enough but not so exciting, a bit of an overlong Neil Young-aping trudge full of half-baked jams and unadventurous songwriting. We can't all be perfect all the time, though, and Ranaldo has put out too much good music to dismiss him for one misfire, and besides my opinion of that album is far from universal.
This live album came about due to a last minute cancellation leaving a hole in their tour, which felt like a perfect opportunity to put down the acoustic versions of some of their songs which they'd worked out for some unplugged shows. 'Acoustic Dust' has three reworks of songs from the aforementioned album, along with four new songs and three covers. His recent Neil Young phase seems to still be in full swing (he's even one of the artists covered), and it's well served by the acoustic format, which gives the songs more of a chance to breathe and helps the band rein themselves back from too much psych-rock meandering, with the final result sounding like something between Young and Jason Molina's Magnolia Electric Co-era material, buoyed by Ranaldo's ever-distinctive vocal cords. For my money, while this has the appearance of "just an acoustic album", it's actually a much more palatable and charming album than its somewhat cumbersome predecessor, so if you were more convinced than me by that one then this is an essential purchase.
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