Thursday, December 31, 2009

Best of the 00's

The Corner's artist of the decade is Wilco. Jeff Tweedy and company began the year as the best alternative country band, but was showing hints of things to come. 1999's Summerteeth was full of those experimental sounds that Wilco would be come known for in the 00's. Wilco's releases in this decade include 2002's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, 2004's A Ghost is Born, 2007's Sky Blue Sky and this year's Wilco (The Album). Wilco also was involved in releases like 2000's Mermaid Avenue II with Billy Bragg (included material that didn't make the first volume), Minus 5's 2003 Down With Wilco (Wilco played on the album), a live album 2005's Kicking Television and a couple of EPs. Jeff Tweedy played on the soundtrack to the film Chelsea Walls, on Loose Fur's 2003 Loose Fur and 2007 Born Again in the USA and also Golden Smog's 2007 Another Fine Day. Bassist John Stirratt along with his sister released the terrific Arabella under the name of Laurie and John.

Wilco began the decade with Jay Bennett (multi-instruments) and Leroy Bach (keyboards) along with the core group of Jeff Tweedy (guitar, singer), John Stirratt (bass) and Glen Kotche (drums). They finished the decade with Nels Cline (guitar), Pat Sansone (multi-instruments), Mikael Jorgenson (keyboards) along with the core group. Wilco's constant has always been Jeff Tweedy and John Stirratt. Jeff seems to encourage input from his current band to shape thier ever evolving sound.

  1. Wilco - A Ghost is Born (2004)
  2. Bruce Springsteen - The Rising (2002)
  3. The Raconteurs - Broken Boy Soldier (2006)
  4. Wilco - Yankee Foxtrot Hotel (2002)
  5. U2 - All That I Can't Leave Behind (2000)
  6. U2 - No Line On The Horizon (2009)
  7. Minus 5 - Down With Wilco (2003)
  8. Wilco - Sky Blue Sky (2007)
  9. U2 - How To Dismantle An Automic Bomb (2004)
  10. My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges (2008)

Some other great releases include: Old 97s - Satelite Rides (2001), Bruce Springsteen - Live in New York City (2001), Alejandro Escovedo - A Man Under the Influence (2001), Coldplay - X&Y (2005), The Eels - Blinking Lights and Other Revelations (2005), The Jayhawks - Rainy Day Music (2003), Wilco - Wilco (The Album) (2009), The Raconteurs - Consolers of the Lonely (2008), The Jayhawks - Smile (2000), Ryan Adams - Gold (2001), Old Crow Medicine Show - Big Iron World (2006), Drive-By Truckers - Decoration Day (2003), The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls in America (2007)

  1. Wilco - Theologians (2004)
  2. Ryan Adams - Nobody's Girl (2001)
  3. Old Crow Medicine Show - Wagon Wheel (2004)
  4. My Morning Jacket - Dondante (2006)
  5. U2 - Vertigo (2004)
  6. Wilco - At Least That's What She Said (2004)
  7. Bruce Springsteen - The Rising (2002)
  8. U2 - Kite (2000)
  9. Wilco - I Hate It (2007)
  10. U2 - City of Blinding Lights (2004)

Other great songs include: Bruce Springsteen - Lonesome Day (2002), U2 - Fez Being Born(2009), The Raconteurs - Steady, As She Goes (2006), Wilco - I'm the Man Who Loves You (2002), The Raconteurs - Rich Kid Blues (2008), U2- Unknown Caller (2009), Wilco - Heavy Metal Drummer (2002), U2 - Magnificent (2009), Loretta Lynn - Portland Oregon (2004), U2 - Walk On (2000), Old 97s - King of All The World (2001)

My best concert of the decade was Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, The Rising Tour, Rupp Arena in Lexington Kentucky on 11/14/02. Part of the enjoyment of this show was the fact that I ended up in the pit right in front of the stage. At one point in the show, Clarence Clemons pointed to me and my friend.

The show was exciting and featured Streets of Fire which hadn't been played since the Darkness Tour in the 70's. The band also played another Darkness favorite Racing in the Streets. The encore was great and included Dancing in the Dark, Glory Days, Born to Run as well as others.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Best of the 00's: Live in New York City

Two hearts girl get the job done, two hearts are better than one... (Bruce Springsteen - Two Hearts)

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band released Born in the USA in 1984 and then toured for almost 2 years. Bruce released the semi solo record Tunnel of Love in 1987 and toured with the E Street gang. Some time there after Bruce broke with the band with the intention of playing with new people, maybe getting some fresh sounds and ideas. It didn't really work. Bruce's work in the 90's was muddy and lacked something (er... E Street Band maybe).

Then in 1998 Tracks was released. The most exciting release since the mid-80's. Tracks was a history of the band and Bruce in the form of unreleased tracks. The early stuff was gold to these ears and the later stuff included some of those that got away. This release seem to excite everyone on E Street. It excited the band so much that they got together for the Reunion Tour or as I like to call it the Glory Days Tour. This was the first tour that included both Nils Lofgren who joined the band during the Born in the USA era and Little Steven Van Zandt who left during that time.

I caught the tour in both Louisville, KY and Cincinnati, OH. Both shows were great, but the first of those was in Louisville. The new reconstituted E Street Band came out in went into Don't Look Back from Tracks, Prove It All Night, Two Hearts... well we were 3 songs in and it felt like we had seen an entire concerts worth of material. That tour was one of my all time favorites. So when I heard that the band was going to release a live album I was very excited. Live In New York City came out and when I played it driving down the road, I remember the chill bumps and hairs standing up on my arms.

Live in NYC starts similar to the Louisville concert with My Love Will Not Let You Down from Tracks, Prove It All Night and then Two Hearts. After you try to catch your breath, the cd steam rolls along with a great version of Atlantic City. Mansion on the Hill, a duet between Bruce and Patty follows. Then a different version of the River; I didn't like this version at first because it was different. It grew on me and now I like it, I like it alot...

Youngstown followed played by the full band for the fist time on this tour. What a powefull song.

There are many highlights including the sing-a-long Out in the Streets, Lost in the Flood, Born to Run, If I Should Fall Behind (with lead singing parts from Bruce, Little Steven, Patty, Clarence and Nils) and ny favorite concert song ever Jungleland. I've seen this song live a few times and this song unites performer and audience like no other song.

Bruce and the band proved that 2 hearts are better than one on the Reunion Tour which was my favorite tour of the 00's. This souvenir from the tour was one of the best cds of the 00's.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Best of the 00's: Sky Blue Sky

I try to stay busy I do the dishes, I mow the lawn; I try to keep myself occupied even though I know you’re not coming home... (Wilco - Hate It Here)

Wilco had a new line up for 2007's Sky Blue Sky. New band but same results: a terrific new cd. The new configuration featured guitar wiz Nels Cline, multi-insturmentalist Pat Sonsone, keyboardist Mikael Jorgenson, drummer (and fellow University of Kentucky alum) Glen Kotche and the heart of the band, lead singer/guitarist Jeff Tweedy and bassist John Stirratt. Sky Blue Sky was a bit more mellower, but this was very much the Wilco guitar album.

Case in point and the top evidence Impossible Germany. Wilco somehow balances this song with a 3 guitar attack.

The title track, Sky Blue Sky, paints a depressing picture of the singers home town: "The drunks were ricocheting; The old buildings downtown empty so long ago, windows broken and dreaming; So happy to leave what was my home"

One of the best tracks is the Big Star influenced Hate It Here: "I try to stay busy, I do the dishes, I mow the lawn; I try to keep myself occupied even though I know you’re not coming home"

Sky Blue Sky was on the top of my playlist all summer in 2007 and one of the best of the 00's.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Best of the 00's: No Line On the Horizon

Restart and re-boot yourself, you're free to go... (U2 - Unkown Caller)

U2 completed their great 3 cds of the 00's this year with No Line On the Horizon. The cd contained some of their best works with Unknown Caller, Fez Being Born, Magnificent, Moment of Surrender, I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight, etc... For a complete review read here.

No Line on the Horizon is definitely one of the best of the 00's.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Best of the 00's: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

I am an American aquarium drinker, I assassin down the avenue... (Wilco - I Am Trying To Break Your Heart)

2002's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was the cd that put Wilco on the map. You may know the story on how it was recorded and finished; the record company Reprise (a division of Warner Brothers) refused to release it, Wilco aquired the rights and left the label only to have it bought back by Nonesuch Records (another division of Warner Brothers). Jeff Tweedy and Jeff Bennett worked diligently on each song, writing, constructing and recording all the sounds and music only to be fed up with each other in the end; Bennett was then dismissed from the band.

YHF is experimental, loaded with sounds and clever songs. One of which is Jesus, etc. -"Tall buildings shake, Voices escape singing sad sad songs, Tuned to chords strung down your cheeks, bitter melodies turning your orbit around"

Another favorite of mine is Heavy Metal Drummer:

"All I can see is black and white and white and pink with blades of blue that lay between the words I think on a page I was meaning to send to you" from I'm the Man Who Loves You:
YHF includes some of Wilco's finest moments, along with previous mentioned songs Pot Kettle Black, War on War, Kamera and Reservations are fine songs. Wilco the band of the 00's with Yankee Hotel Foxtrot one of the best of the 00's.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Best of the 00's: How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb

The night is full of holes as bullets rip the sky of ink with gold, They twinkle as the boys play rock and roll... (U2 - Vertigo)

After a bit of down trend in the mid to late 90's, U2 roared back with the trifecta, 3 great cds in the 00's; 2000's All That You Can't Leave Behind, 2004's How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb and 2009's No Line on the Horizon.

U2 went into the studio in 2003 with producer Chris Thomas for How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb with the intention of producing a classic guitar album to be released during the 2003 Christmas season. Thomas left before the album was finished and Steve Lillywight was brought in to clean up. The cd included 8 producers and was not released until 2004, but it was worth the wait.

HTDAAB starts with maybe the best single of the 00's and Vertigo; "Unos, dos, tres, catorce" and as Bruce Springsteen wrote for his induction speech for U2 going into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame it is perfect math. - "Uno, dos, tres, catorce. That translates as one, two, three, fourteen. That is the correct math for a rock and roll band. For in art and love and rock and roll, the whole had better equal much more than the sum of its parts, or else you're just rubbing two sticks together searching for fire. A great rock band searches for the same kind of combustible force that fueled the expansion of the universe after the big bang. You want the earth to shake and spit fire. You want the sky to split apart and for God to pour out." - Bruce Springsteen

Yahweh is a beautiful rocker (done here acoustically)

The highlight of the cd is City of Blinding Lights, a New York City song.

Other highlights include Miracle Drug, Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own, All Because of You and Original of the Species. U2 released 3 cd's in the 00's and all are on the best of the 00's.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Best of the 00's: Down With Wilco

They call me DJ Mini-Mart cause that's where I work... (Minus 5 - Retrieval of You)

My favorite artist of this 00's has been Wilco; along with recording their own exciting music Jeff Tweedy and company occasionally step out and play with other artists. That was the case when Wilco recorded with the Minus 5, Scott McCaughey's project band that features R.E.M.'s super guitarist Peter Buck and Ken Stringfellow of the Posies. The result of their recording sessions was the fantastic Down With Wilco.

Highlights from the cd are plenty, starting with Retrieval of You, the story of a failed music star and the famous girl that he lost - "Everybody knows I fell afoul of fame and you're to blame that I'm what's his name"; the beautiful pop sound of Where Will You Go; the haunting View From Below in which the husband slithers along the floor describing his wife's affair from below; the R.E.M.esque I'm Not Bitter; the fabulous Dear Employer (The Reason I Quit) whose lyrics are a notice to his boss that he is moving on - "Dear employer, I'd like to tell you it's been wonderful, for all these years, but now you know, I've got a new shoe and I'll be wearing it so far from here"; The Town That Lost It's Groove Supply is another winner;

Family Gardner is the lone Jeff Tweey vocal and the highlight of the cd.

I was down with Wilco alot in the 00's.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Best of the 00's: X & Y

Maybe you get what you wanted, Maybe you stumbled upon it... (Coldplay - White Shadows)

Coldplay was another band that caught me by suprise. I first heard Coldplay on the Garden State soundtrack and the song Don't Panic. I love that song. Then in 2005 I started hearing songs from X&Y. Yes they did have a sort of U2 thing going on, but it was still a fresh and exciting sound. I've always liked English bands and English music, so I invested in X&Y and discovered a band that writes excellent songs with great instruments and emotional lyrics and singing.

One of the best songs on X&Y is White Shadows; "When I was a young boy I tried to listen and I wanna feel like that, Little white shadows - blink and miss them, Part of a system I am".

Fix You is a great ballad that really comes alive towards the end, "Tears stream down your face when you lose something you cannot replace, Tears stream down your face and I... Will fix You"

Speed of Sound is another great rocker; "Look up, I look up at night, planets are moving at the speed of light, climb up, up in the trees every chance that you get is a chance you seize"

Talk is another solid rocker; "Oh brother I can't, I can't get through, I've been trying hard to reach you 'cause I don't know what to do, Oh brother I can't believe it's true, I'm so scared about the future and I wanna talk to you";

X&Y is excellent throughout and one of the best of the 00's.