An alt-rock, critical and hipster darling, teaming up with his teenage son to make an album. Could there be a bigger warning sign that an album is an immense vanity project and exercise in self indulgence? Usually, that combo would scare me shitless. But when the alt-rock, critical and hipster darling in question is Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, I’m willing to give this father and son team up the benefit of the doubt. So, let’s hope Sukierae rewards that doubt benefit.
Almost lo-fi punk, Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood sounds like it was written specifically for me, to alleviate my own personal fears about how bad this album might be. It didn’t just grab my attention, it shook my attention like a baby that won’t stop crying.
Of course, Tweedy senior’s voice is going make almost anything sound a bit like Wilco, and that’s certainly the case with High As Hello. Only, it sounds like a Wilco demo. Almost like only Jeff and one or two other members were in the studio that day. So they laid down this bare bones version, ready for the rest of the band to hear when they arrived later. That’s not to say its inconsequential in any way. It’s just sparse in a great way.
Born from a proposed solo album, you can hear a definite sonic vision in Jeff Tweedy’s production, while Spencer (Tweedy the junior) on drums brings a unique style of his own. Tweedy is a much looser, free flowing animal than Wilco, even at its most ethereal. And on songs like World Away and Diamond Light Pt. 1 that loose freedom sounds like it’s a little more fun and just-for-the-hell-of-it than being in Wilco as well.
Low Key and Pigeons are Jeff Tweedy at his quiet, acoustic best. While they lead into Slow Love, Jeff Tweedy at his monotonous, hypnotic best. It’s the kind of thing that would annoy me if almost anyone else recorded it and called it a song. Yet when Jeff Tweedy says it’s a song, I’m on board.
The Uncle Tupelo, alt-country roots are there for all to see in the heart breaking sound of Desert Bell, Summer Noon, Honeycombed and New Moon. It’s a quadrilogy of pure Jeff Tweedy melancholy, and I guess your experience with and opinion of Jeff Tweedy melancholy will determine whether that’s a good or bad thing.
I really like the overall feel and sound of Tweedy the band. I really like long stretches of Sukierae. But I also don’t think it needs to be a double album. If this is what made the cut, I don’t think anyone needs to hear the songs that didn’t. What could have been an amazing single album, is now a pretty good, but uneven double album.
But I know, complaining about a band giving you too much is a bit of a champaign problem. And in 2014, we are blessed with the skip button and the ability to make our own playlists. So I look forward to creating my own perfect version of Sukierae that would fit on one CD.