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Paul Westerberg 

Folker (Vagrant)

While most people use their basements for washing clothes or hiding bodies, Paul Westerberg has been busy pumping out a steady stream of records from his Minneapolis subterranean studio. If you're a fan of the more bipolar ragings on Grandpaboy, you may be a bit disappointed by Folker. Clearly, Westerberg must shed the bulk of his Replacements persona in order to create something truly great. But he has taken the lo-fi hints from his alter ego and continued to deliver solid songwriting. These twelve numbers run the gamut from the heartfelt reminiscence of "My Dad" to the pure pop of "Looking Up In Heaven," the fuzzy garage rock of "Gun Shy" and the alt-country crooning of "$100 Groom." What Westerberg promised with 2002's Mono/Stereo he more than delivers, continuing the DIY ethic that has thankfully muddied his records for the past several years. There are some classic rockers like "As Far as I Know" and "What About Mine" that more than make up for some of the filler he often stumbles over, most notably the never-ending blues yammering of "23 Years Ago" and the tired satire of the record's opener, "Jingle." Not the fabled masterpiece Westerberg fans swear is coming -- this is more like finding Bigfoot than greeting the Messiah.

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