[PSYCH ADJACENT] If the Minus 5 wants to count this as its 10th album, fine. But the dozen tracks on Dungeon Golds originate from Scott the Hoople in the Dungeon of Horror, a 2014 Record Store Day behemoth that included 55 tracks spread over five LPs.
Sure, that release was a collector's relic when it was issued, so reviving some of these tunes—half of which were supposedly jerked around in post-production again—seems reasonable. What's most engaging about the whole ordeal, even after that reworking, is Scott McCaughey's fecundity. Apart from the avalanche of songs he's released with the Minus 5 over two decades, the guitarist was also part of Seattle's Young Fresh Fellows, beginning with their 1984 debut, and that stuff has been a model for every band that looks like Weezer.
Being so prolific, though, wouldn't really matter if McCaughey didn't write choruses with lines like, "I'll be there to clean the guillotine." That isn't the only stab at wry wit during the course of the cobbled-together Dungeon Golds, either. "Zero Clowns" angles for the same mood, and achieves it in the face of all its "la la las." A handful of songs hue toward country rock, but it's split almost evenly with the R.E.M. jangle that's an irrefutable part of the ensemble's DNA.
With McCaughey largely directing the revolving-door project, it's his interplay with whoever happens to be around—and sometimes it's Peter Buck, the late Ian McLagan, or Ken Stringfellow—that really makes this an exciting project, instead of something that a bunch of famous dudes just happen to be doing for kicks. The knotted-up guitar solo about halfway through the keyboard-inflected "Chinese Saucer Magnolia" should clue listeners in to how incendiary the seemingly random combination of players can actually be.
SEE IT: The Minus 5 plays Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside St., with Tweedy, on Saturday, March 14. 9 pm. Sold out. All ages.