WARNING: DO NOT LISTEN WHILE OPERATING A MOTOR VEHICLE
THIS PRODUCT IS NOT FAULTY - ALL SOUNDS ARE INTENTIONAL AND VALID AS A WORK OF ART
As you may have read here Friday, Paul Westerberg was set to offer a group of new songs via a $.49 download here Saturday, "July 49" (or July 19 to you and me). Technical issues pushed it back until today. Now here at work where I downloaded it, I had to use headphones to listen to it but I highly suggest you do the same so as to catch some of the odder/cooler nuances.
Sans the tracks contributed to the movie "Open Season" a little while back, 49 is Westerberg's first release of new stuff since 2004's Folker. I'd heard that 49 is a collection of things Westerberg has worked on over the past year. If you're a casual Westerberg fan, I don't think you'll care for it, but for the more die-hard types, you'll love it. It's one 43:55 track filled with a couple full songs, song smatterings, smash edits of songs going in and out of each other, a couple covers (Paul doing "I Think I Love You" is pretty awesome), and what I think is Paul playing and singing background behind a child (his son Johnny perhaps?). There are no track listings. Musicially, it covers the gambit. I'd texted a friend about half way through and said "It's sorta alt-country," but then as soon as I hit the Send button on that text, it had morphed into more rock and then some real punk-style sounds. Again, you should listen to it with headphones to catch all the cool strangeness that runs through this.
Westerberg could run with any of the half-tracks and make them into great full-length songs. Maybe that's the reason for 49, to test things out, who knows. But like Tom Waits, Paul Westerberg could write a song about the phone book and somehow make the lyrics into something beautiful you'd want to listen to. 49 is a schizophrenic hot mess and something very few artists could put out without catching flack for it, but Westerberg is one of those few. Consider it like a 43:55 minute look into the mind of a great writer/musician without the need of an interviewer.