The web is abuzz with former Replacements frontman Paul Westerberg posting his latest album 49:00 for 49 cents on Amazon here in the US. (We don’t know if the decision to make it available dirt cheap has anything to do with his former band’s recent reissues selling abysmally.) We took the plunge and downloaded a copy—be careful: due to a glitch, you’ll be charged a whopping 89 cents if you download the album as a lone mp3 track as opposed to using the site’s “1-click” method—and were pleasantly surprised by the songs. The playing and production? Not so much.
Hopefully the incredibly low price is to entice you to buy the album later on when he records it properly, for this recording is, sound quality-wise, half a step up from an Ariel Pink album. (We can tell it’s just you on every instrument, Paul. Oh, and those overlapping songs are quite annoying.) Granted, Westerberg hasn’t exactly been making Tears for Fears-quality recordings, but seriously, these are demos, dude. If he's pulling a Bob Pollard and it turns out this is indeed the final product, well, that would be a bit of a shame. These songs deserve better. (Especially that cover of "I Think I Love You".) But at least we know Westerberg’s still got it. And that he remains the contrarian motherfucker he's always been.
As for the title, the album is only 43 minutes in length, so…
Highlights: Quite a few. Too bad the download is one long nameless track without song titles. Hey, Paul: even Prince had a track listing for his uninterrupted album.