Lee Ranaldo + Santigold | Tracks
Sonic Youth’s Ranaldo goes solo with “Off the Wall” (no relation of Michael Jackson). Santigold bounces back with a banger.
Published: February 15, 2012
“Off the Wall”
Lee Ranaldo is quaintly beatnik. His songs in Sonic Youth were always overtly poetic, in the open-mic-night sense, and almost invariably about seedy NYC, stuff like “Saucer-Like” and “Rats.” While Thurston Moore was the wild, unprincipled punk, Ranaldo’s structural art guitar took its cues from modern classical and ’70s skronk jammers like Robert Quine. In other words, Ranaldo was Franz Kline to Thurston’s Jackson Pollock. So it’s a bit of a shock to hear the silver-haired shredder start his solo campaign with a jangling, WXRT-ready cruiser that opens with the line, “I just saw a rainbow.” The strings of the ax might be abnormally tuned, but this is his most sweetly melodic song yet, closer to ’80s R.E.M. than “Eric’s Trip.” Aside from a fuzzy little lead, there’s hardly any distortion at all. See, Sonic Youth was a pop band at heart. “See me as I am / Just half a man / Tryin’ to get whole,” he sings, rather Humperdinckly. But then come the “explosions in the city.” Ah, there it is.