Stereo (Vagrant Records) Poor Paul Westerberg. An infrequently brilliant songwriter, he put out a string of well-crafted albums after his volatile career with the Replacements ground to a halt in the early 1990s. No one bought them, so he went into therapy, sacked his band and potted around in his home recording studio. Stereo is the result and if no one buys this one either, at least he can have the satisfaction of knowing he's released another masterful collection of songs. More 'lo-fi' than 'stereo', the minimal production adds rather than detracts from the album, letting the strong tunes breathe. And while it's sometimes a little disconcerting when a song abruptly ends because that's the moment Westerberg ran out of tape, at least you couldn't doubt this is an authentic antidote to the world's fascination with mega-budget, soulless 'products'. Value is guaranteed with the inclusion of bonus disc Mono, recorded under the moniker of his alter ego Grandpaboy. It's an all-too-brief collection of straight-ahead, ballsy rock'n'roll, 'played in a hurry, with sweaty hands and unsure reason'. While it could have been released 20 years ago by his old band, that simply confirms that Westerberg's ability to make a timeless, joyous racket remains intact.