It's uncertain if Sonic Youth will ever play again, now that cofounders Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore have broken up, but guitarist Lee Ranaldo is perfectly content in his new band, Lee Ranaldo and the Dust.
When Ranaldo released his 2012 solo album, Between the Times & the Tides, he had modest plans for touring it. But as he traveled the country with his backing band, it became clear that the group had grown into a cohesive unit. Their chemistry will be on display at the High Noon Saloon on Monday, Oct. 14.
"I played with these guys for much of the last year, and [the group's bond] really solidified itself in a live setting," Ranaldo says.
Ranaldo's crew -- fellow Sonic Youth alum Steve Shelley on drums, Alan Licht on guitar and Tim Luntzel on bass -- also bring new possibilities to his live act.
"We've been doing both electric shows and fully acoustic shows," he says.
Thanks to this versatility, Ranaldo and the Dust were able to record and release their collective debut, Last Night on Earth, in a snap. The album hit stores on Oct. 7.
Compared with tracks on Times & Tides, many of Last Night's songs are longer and darker. Several were written in New York after Hurricane Sandy.
Ranaldo says there's almost always a silver lining to these tunes, though.
"My only hesitation with calling it Last Night on Earth was that I didn't want the album to be seen as a thematic apocalyptic record," he says.
With songs ranging from the acoustic-guitar-driven "Late Decent No. 2" to the intense 12-minute jam "Blackt Out," the album is full of contrasts.
Ranaldo is looking forward to stopping in Madison since it's where he met Smart Studios' Butch Vig, the producer of several Sonic Youth albums. The city's late-'80s Sonic Youth shows also occupy a special place in his memory.
As for the future, he's once again resorted to modest plans.
"I'm just letting it happen," he says.