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POP ALBUM REVIEWS

Part-timers with a full-time vision

Golden Smog "Another Fine Day" (Lost Highway) * * *

July 25, 2006|Richard Cromelin

Welcome to the side project that wouldn't die. With its fourth album since 1992, Golden Smog seems more like an active band at this point than its members' main groups, the Jayhawks (now defunct), Soul Asylum (just back after being defunct) and Run Westy Run (last album in 1995). Real band or not, its periodic surfacings are eagerly awaited in the roots-rock and power-pop pockets of the indie-rock world.

"Another Fine Day," its first album in seven years, also makes Golden Smog sound more like a real band than it has in the past, and more so than similar outlets such as Peter Buck and company's Minus Five and Wilco leader Jeff Tweedy and pals' Loose Fur.

Tweedy and other guests float in and out of "Day," but the core of Gary Louris, Marc Perlman, Dan Murphy and Kraig Johnson give it a cohesion and consistency of vision within its variety of voices. Its one sign of timidity is its refusal to stray from the familiar territory of Beatles harmonies and dynamics, touches of the Band's Americana and Velvet Underground rock spirit.

Beyond the elemental pleasures of imaginative, passionately delivered rock and folk, "Day" offers a set of songs with a consistent viewpoint and emotional reach, whether the fierce reminder that "the dream is never over" or Tweedy's two tender ruminations on birth and death.

*

Albums are reviewed on a scale of four stars (excellent), three stars (good), two stars (fair) and one star (poor). Albums are already released unless otherwise noted.

- Richard Cromelin

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