It's impressive that Westerberg's Come Feel Me Tremeble and the Grandpaboy album Dead Man Shake (which is also Paul Westerberg) have come out on the same day. For people like me that believe Paul is a fine songwriter, that's good news. Still, it seems his love of the "first take" has led to more than a few half-cooked songs over the past couple of years. I guess it's understandable when you remember how overproduced and over-labored upon records like Dont Tell A Soul and Suicaine Gratification were. Those songs often seemed to have the air sucked out of them, and probably suffered frm over-production, and way too many takes and overdubs...
Now, left to his own devices and two indie labels - Fat Possum & Vaugrant - Paul seems to be making records by himself and in his basement, which leads to a homey sloppiness. I dont mind that. The looseness of the Replacements and of some of their contemporaries (Husker Du, Soul Asylum) and their influences (Faces, Stones, NY Dolls) was one of their strongest attributes.
There are some wonderful songs here - but the tone of Come Feel Me Tremble feels too similar to the Mono/Stereo albums to me. Dead Man Shake by Paul's Grandpaboy persona seems just different enough to make it a more interesting album. Perhaps having the framework of setting out to make a (kind of) blues album for a (kind of) blues record label gave him enough structure to make something a little more different than we would have otherwise. And being different, it's also more interesting. And much as I dig Paul's take on the Jackson Browne song "These Days" on CFMT, the covers here by Hank Williams and John Prine on Dead Man Shake are, again, better.
While the music industry just collpases in on itself, it's good to know that Paul Westerberg is oblivious to it all, just cranking out songs from somewhere in Minnesota, not giving a damn about fashion or what's cool or that downloads are killing the business. More power to him for it.