Tag: Wilco

MUSIC REVIEW | Wilco – The Whole Love (2011)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “A logical and satisfying step forward from Wilco (The Album).

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As the awesome documentary I Am Trying to Break Your Heart showed, Wilco was a band that never let their record label exert too much control.  The entire narrative of that movie is them sticking to their guns and being dropped from their label because of an unwillingness to compromise their vision of what would become their major breakthrough, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.  But even with what I assume was plenty of freedom, they did spend a lot of years making music on someone else’s dime.  Until The Whole Love, the first Wilco record released on the band’s own label.  So, what did that mean for the sounds of a long running, critically praise band with a fervent, faithful fanbase?

With Glenn Kotche’s clockwork drums ushering in some ominous, synth the lush, mysterious soundscape, Art of Almost is like no other Wilco song to have come before.  But as soon as Jeff Tweedy’s unmistakable vulnerability comes in with the vocals, The Whole Love is immediately Wilco record.  And the first five minutes in no way hint at the awesome, blistering rock that’s to come in the final two or three minutes, courtesy of Nels Cline and his scorching guitar work. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “In a way, it’s like Wilco are leaving the odd, ambiguous thread hanging, letting the listener fill in the gaps of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot for themselves.”

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Here we are, the album that introduced me to Wilco.  But I wouldn’t say it introduced me to my love of Wilco.  I remember it being released and being raved about for a long, long time.  In 2002, I was too deep into my Reel Big Fish and Tenacious D obsession to find time to actually listen to these soft, acoustic, country tinged sad sacks.  But when the praise had gone unabated a year or two later, I caved in and listened to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot…  And I thought it was the pretentious work of soft, acoustic, country tinged sad sacks.  Another year or two passed and I saw the documentary that covered the making of the album, I Am Trying to Break Your Heart.  All of a sudden, I got it.  I re-listened to the record immediately after watching the movie, and I have been a Wilco fan ever since.  So any excuse to revisit Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is always a good thing.

As much as I love it now, hearing I Am Trying to Break Your Heart lead things off reminds me why I didn’t quite get it as a loud music obsessed 22 or 23 year old.  It’s so meandering and empty in places, with Jeff Tweedy almost whispering some of the lyrics through a slack, lazy jaw.  The tinkering toy piano, the arrhythmic drums, the extended length.  All of that seemed like such a wank to me back then.  These days, they’re all the exact same things that make this one of the songs I revisit most often. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Wilco – Summerteeth (1999)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “It’s pure Wilco, presented in a really unique way, and I loved it.”

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From reading the Wikipedia entry for this record, it seems like Summerteeth was more of a collaboration than other Wilco albums before and since.  I get the impression that Jay Bennett was a bit of a multi instrumentalist for hire on Being There, brought in to help Jeff Tweedy realise the songs he heard in his head.  Whereas their next release was made by Tweedy and Bennett collaborating and writing together in the studio.

While the current incarnation of the band is by far the longest established and most solidified version in their history, I think the music is still clearly Tweedy’s vision, with the others helping make that a reality.  So it’s the idea of Jeff Tweedy relying so much on someone else’s contributions and sensibilities that had me most intrigued about Summerteeth. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Wilco – Being There (1996)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “Well worth it’s 80 minutes.”

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Wilco’s A.M was a steadily confident debut.  But that’s no big surprise, head song writer Jeff Tweedy had already done pretty well with his old band Uncle Tupelo, which also included Wilco bassist John Stirratt.  So they knew what they were doing.  But as fully formed as the band was for their first record, I’m still impressed that they followed it up with the double album ambitiousness of Being There.

With a dreamy, reflective approach that the band would reutilise again in a few albums for Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Wilco eases the listener into Being There with Misunderstood.  The airy, flowing subconscious feeling of its majority, works perfectly with the chaotic mess of its later moments to show that the listener is in for a wide ranging journey on this one. (more…)

***2015 RECAP*** MUSIC REVIEW | Wilco – Star Wars (2015)

Wilco Star Wars
I was watching an episode of Shameless the other day when one of its teenaged characters dismissed Wilco as something along the lines of “dad rock”. Now as much as I like Wilco, I kind of agree with that. I also think that there’s nothing wrong with “dad rock”. Shameless meant it as boring and stale. I see it as mature and nuanced.   I was 20sih when Yankee Hotel Foxtrot came out, and despite the universal praise, I found it pretentious, boring and aimless. In my late 20s, I gave it another go and all of a sudden was blown away by the intricate song writing, impressive production and complex instrumentation.


But last week, these kings of dad rock proved they’re still in touch with how the kids listen to music in 2015. Like Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar before them, Wilco dropped a new album with no warning. And to even more tap into the meme obsessed world of today, they called it Star Wars and whacked a kitty cat on the cover. These dads are still hip with the kids alright. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Wilco – Star Wars (2015)

Wilco Star Wars
I was watching an episode of Shameless the other day when one of its teenaged characters dismissed Wilco as something along the lines of “dad rock”. Now as much as I like Wilco, I kind of agree with that. I also think that there’s nothing wrong with “dad rock”. Shameless meant it as boring and stale. I see it as mature and nuanced.   I was 20sih when Yankee Hotel Foxtrot came out, and despite the universal praise, I found it pretentious, boring and aimless. In my late 20s, I gave it another go and all of a sudden was blown away by the intricate song writing, impressive production and complex instrumentation.


But last week, these kings of dad rock proved they’re still in touch with how the kids listen to music in 2015. Like Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar before them, Wilco dropped a new album with no warning. And to even more tap into the meme obsessed world of today, they called it Star Wars and whacked a kitty cat on the cover. These dads are still hip with the kids alright. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Uncle Tupelo – Anodyne (1993)

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Back in the mid 90s, the cool kids discovered the then fledging band Wilco.  In the early 00s, a much bigger audience got on board with Wilco via the now considered classic Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.  I was in the loop enough to know that album was a watershed moment, but I wasn’t in the loop enough the understand why when I listened to it.


Six or seven years later, I saw a documentary covering the making of that album.  Something about watching I Am Trying to Break Your Heart flicked a switch, and immediately I understood all the hype around that album, that band, and main song writer Jeff Tweedy.  In the years since, I’ve caught up on Wilco’s earlier albums and immediately listened to new ones on release.  I’ve seen the band live and am on board with anything Wilco or Tweedy related.  Including finally catching up on Tweedy’s pre-Wilco outfit, Uncle Tupelo with Anodyne. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | ***A.V WEEK*** The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses (1989)

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When The Stone Roses toured Australia last year, I was surprised by how many people my age and little older went completely mental.  Somehow, not only the band completely passed me by in their original heyday, but their legacy had also gone right over my head in the years since.  I knew the name, but I think in my mind they always occupied the same spot as Primal Scream, just some Brit band of the early 90s who I never paid any attention to. But it turns out, a lot of people out there are bat shit bananas for The Stone Roses, and especially, their self titled debut.


I Wanna Be Adored represents a pretty common way to start albums in those days.  All atmosphere and contemplation.  It’s the kind of song that didn’t really grab me on first listen, but I also know it’s likely to grow on me.  Like I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, the opener on Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, at first the sparseness seemed empty and boring, but the more I hear that song, the more I ‘hear’.  I wouldn’t be surprised if I Wanna Be Adored is a grower in the same way.

It drags at times with a little too much indulgence in soundscapes that I really could have done without.  The end of Waterfall that leads into the entirety of Don’t Stop is at its best a boring, repetitive groove.  At its worse, a complete musical wank.

Ever thought, “I wish Simon and Garfunkel were somehow even more boring and impressed by themselves”?  Well, you’re in luck, because Elizabeth My Dear is exactly what a less exciting, more self satisfied Paul and Art would sound like.  Mercifully, it clocks in at less than a minute.

From (Song for My) Sugar Spun Sister, the album really hits it stride.  Sugar Spun Sister involves most of the aspects I’ve complained in the previous songs, but somehow, this one really works for me.  It has an effortless cool, and a certain energy that I just don’t see in many other tracks on The Stone Roses.  And then comes the guitar solo in Made of Stone.  It’s a good song before John Squire’s shredding kicks in.  But once it does, it becomes the clear album stand out.

The Stone Roses closes with Fools Gold, a song I’ve heard a hundred times before, but obviously never actually consciously listened to.  Because until today, I never knew its name or who it was by.  A bit like the band blurring with Primal Scream, I think this song has always occupied the same place in my brain as I’m Free by the Soup Dragons.  I’ve never thought about either song enough to differentiate them.

It’s interesting to hear what rock was like then if you weren’t into Guns n Roses, but Nirvana were yet to really break and change everything.  It’s got an edge, but it’s trippier and a little more chilled out than what would dominate the next few years.  The Stone Roses doesn’t make me feel like I’ve really missed anything by never having my mind blown by this band or this album, but it does make me almost understand to excited squeals I heard from many a grown man when they got back together.  Almost.

And one last thing, forget about the music for a second and look at the album cover at the top of this review.  Worst album clover ever?  Even if you’re a mega fan, you must think it comes pretty close.

The Stone Roses

MUSIC REVIEW | Big Star – #1 Record (1972)

1-Record
For years, Big Star has been one of those names that pops up constantly in articles I’ve read where bands I Iike reference then as an influence.  Or musical journalists can’t wait to include them in some ‘best of all time’ list.  But that’s where my knowledge stops.  They didn’t have a single huge hit song I knew, I can’t name any members who made their way into other bands I know of, and I didn’t even know what kind of music they played.   So I thought it was time I got on board with what seems to be their most well regarded album, the appropriately named #1 Record.

Opening track Feel starts with a Wilco style country jangle intro, then rips into some Zeppelin infused vocals, before a Crowded-House-Mean-to-Me-esque horn section kicks in.  I know two out of three of those comparisons came after Big Star, but they’re only way I can describe the eclecticness of this song.

The Ballad of El Goodo is the kind of sound I generally expect from the early 70s.  A little hippy, nice harmonies, flanged out electric guitars, finger picked acoustic guitars, and a driving, but not heavy groove.  Then comes In the Street, or as I’ve known it until now, the song form the opening titles of That 70s Show.  But this is much more confident, cooler, alt-country (complete with cowbell) version than the faux hard rock version used on the TV show.

For me, the standout of #1 Record is Don’t Lie to Me, awesome 70s rock, falsetto harmonies complete with psychedelic breakdown.  After that, the second half of the album settles into dreamy, mesmerising succession of one laid back acoustic contemplation after another, with tracks like Watch the Sunrise, My Life is Right and Give Me Another Chance.

After finally listening to Big Star, I get it.  I know why their name keeps popping up and why it’s talked about in such glowing terms.  Like everything by The Band, #1 Record offers songs written and played by real musicians who bring an extra layer of authenticity to every track.

Big Star