Paul Westerberg
Easy Street Records, 20 Mercer St (Queen Anne), Mon April 22, 7:30 pm, free.

Any young guy can sound like a brat when he's writing songs for his fucked-up band. But a young guy who sounds like a brat whose wisdom is focused through the eye of an old codger is a rarity, as is one who can write songs that last through the ages. That rarity remains Paul Westerberg, former frontman of the Replacements--now a solo artist and father to a four-year-old--who may have just released the best album of his career.

Westerberg recently spoke to me from his home in Minneapolis about his new album and his tour of record stores that begins in Seattle at Easy Street's new location in Queen Anne. The two-disc album (one disc is called Stereo and the other is Mono) is timeless in its songwriting; it could have come straight after Pleased to Meet Me. It sounds fresh and true, and nothing like his last album, Suicaine Gratification, which disappointed not only Westerberg's fans, but Westerberg himself, it would seem. In a nutshell, it lacked the old adolescence. "That's why I stopped after the last record," he explains, "and came home and fired my manager and lawyer. I needed the feeling of having no label, band, or responsibilities. I was seriously waiting for lightning to strike. In the meantime I just entertained myself by making music.

"Everything on [Stereo] is my doing and it is how I want it to be. After the last record, I said, 'This is the last time I listen to any of these clowns or play this game,' so I got the guy who used to play bass with me to act as manager and I said, 'Here, take these songs and go out and find me a deal somewhere and tell them I'm not going to change anything.' I believe in destiny, and I couldn't have made this record 10 years ago. Ten years ago I still felt competitive, like, 'Well, I have to regain my place in the Rock World and I have to continue where the Replacements left off.' I have no more of those feelings of obligation. I made [Stereo] to entertain myself, and it's probably my best record. It's like, ah ha! That's how you do it."