When the lyrics came, they were filled with classic-rock turns. On "Tomorrow Never Comes," "souls" are "a long, long way from home." "Maybe I'll see you out on the road," he sings on "Hammer Blows." Maybe we will.

"I felt like I really missed the work of working on songs," says Ranaldo, who has written another half-dozen since completing the album last year. He seems pleased with his new band, which includes Licht (returning to regular song service for the first time since his days in Run On), Shelley, and, cousin of the guy who wrote Little Shop of Horrors, Irwin Menken—a sign of exactly where Ranaldo is these days. "His 12-year-old and mine are friends," he says.

"I always knew he was a bass player. He's a software and finance guy, but he doesn't really play on our scene," and they just found themselves hanging out a lot. The band will soon open for M. Ward. Playing in a new band, turns out, is fun. They've covered the Monkees; they might work up a Cher tune. "I think I could kill it," Ranaldo says. Sonic Death forever.

Lee Ranaldo plays Other Music at the release party for Between the Times and the Tides on Tuesday.

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