Sunday, July 19, 2009

Review: Wilco (The Album)

Tired of being exposed to the cold stare of your stereo? Put on your headphones before you explode; Oh Wilco, Wilco, Wilco will love you baby ... (Wilco - Wilco (The Song))

Wilco is an ever changing band musically. So when Wilco has new album you are not quiet sure what you are going to get and that is a good thing. The same band that brought us the 1996 amercian/alt-country classic Being There also brought us the 2002 alternative/ experimental Yankee Foxtrot Hotel and 2007's mellow guitar attack Sky Blue Sky. Althought part of the change has been a constant shuffle of band members, the constant and the diversity can be attributed to Wilco's gifted singer song writer Jeff Tweedy. As a songwriter Jeff has the gift of melody and is able to come up with hooks that grab you. As a band leader he goes with the strengths of his band; he relied heavily on the late Jay Bennet and Max Johnston early as he does with the current Wilco line up (which is a very tallented bunch).

The latest Wilco album is aptly titled Wilco (The Album). The album's sound is most similar to 2007's Sky Blue Sky. The songs are ballads, upbeat raveups, bouncy pop to rock and the band is solid as ever. Wilco's latest may not be a giant step in a new direction, but what it is, is another very solid set of songs to add to the Wilco legacy.

  • Wilco (The Song) is a catchy up beat ditty with a wailing guitar. The lyrics are a sort of tongue-in-cheek joke asking "Do you dabble in depression?" and with the punch line "Wilco will love you baby".
  • Deeper Down musically is a layered with various and interesting instruments such as bowed piano, lap steel guitar, mellotron cello to name a few; very nice arrangement.
  • One Wing is one fantastic song with standout drumming by Glenn Kotche and super sonic lead guitar by Nels Cline. The gist of the lyrics are about a failed relationship; "one wing will never fly" and "we can only wave goodbye".
  • Bull Black Nova is similar in it's approach as Spiders (Kidsmoke) from A Ghost is Born; the song builds and builds over a relentless hypnotic rhythm. Initially I had no clue what it was about, but after researching a bit, the singer has just killed someone and the body was in the trunk of his Chevy Nova - "Blood in the sink, blood in the trunk" . As the song continues to build, the singer is losing his cool not sure what he should do -"I can’t calm down I can’t think, I keep calling, there’s blood in the trunk" .
  • You And I is a quiet romantic duet with Leslie Feist (a Canadian singer songwriter who performs under the name of Feist). The songs inclusion just after the total freak out at the end of Bull Black Nova is no coincidence. Jeff Tweedy's and Feist voices blended very well.
  • You Never Know is a great upbeat pop song with 70's/George Harrison flourishes. The song's sentiment is similar to R.E.M.'s It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine); Jeff sings "Every generation thinks it's the end of the world" and "I don't care anymore".
  • Country Disappeared is a slow tempo song that may be about the decline of civilization.
  • Solitaire is a beautiful introspective song with lyrics "I was cold as gasoline" and "once my life was a game so unfair, it beat me down and kept me there" .
  • I'll Fight is a terrific song; Mikael Jorgensen's organ highlights the song. Lyrically it could be the singer is willing to fight and die for a girl or maybe his country; it doesn't really mater
  • Sonny Feeling is another upbeat pop song. The bouncy tune belies the dark lyrics.
  • Everlasting Everything sounds a little like it could have been written by John Lennon. A slow tune with nice chimes by Glenn.

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