Sunday, July 05, 2009

Wilco (The Blog Post)

There hasn't been much discussion of the new Wilco album yet--how's it sitting with everybody? Personally, I'm not yet blown away by it as an entire album, but there are a few songs that I'm really loving. Highlights for me include:

"Wilco" As fun a little rock number as they've ever done.

"Bull Black Nova" Maybe the weirdest track on the album, and probably my favorite. Combines some of the loud freak-out stuff from Ghost is Born with the jammy, Sky Blue Sky style give and take between instruments. I really really like this one.

"You Never Know" Melodic, fun, awesome lyrics, I love it.

"Solitaire" I feel like my first 3 picks won't be that controversial, but I'm curious what others think of this song. I really love it. For some reason, when Tweedy sings "Once I thought the world was crazy/Everyone was sad and chasing/Happiness and love and/I was the only one above it" it cuts me to the fucking bone. And plus, after all this time, I'm still a sucker for a little understated steel guitar.

21 comments:

drischord said...

I'm actually going to hold off commenting for the moment. I've been traveling and have not had the chance to have a proper "sit and listen" session with (The Album). So I'll check back in later.

But I will say this... Dr. K is right. "You Never Know" sounds like the best song George Harrison never wrote, but so what? It's a great, catchy song (and certainly an homage to the Dark Horse). A little familiar, perhaps, but I don't care! (anymore)

texplush said...

I hear a lot of Fleetwood Mac in You Never Know as well, particularly in the Tusk-esque fuzzed out guitar line.
The first half of the album blows me away. Still gathering my thoughts on the 2nd.
I really love Deeper Down. So good, and a cowriting credit to Sansone too!
Besides saying that my review will be posted soon, I will say that this album sounds great on vinyl and I'm planning a listening party upon my return from vacay...

Eric said...

I'm still absorbing too. I like it, but like Sky Blue Sky, a lot of it doesn't leave much of an immediate impression. It's pleasant while I'm listening to it, but I can't remember a lot of the hooks afterwards (besides the title track). I need a few more listens to weigh in with favorites.

Eric said...

Two more quick thoughts:
1) I don't feel like going to wikipedia to confirm, but off the top of my head, this is the first Wilco album to feature the exact same lineup as the preceding studio album. Is that right? I think it is, and I think it's telling.


2) I think "You and I" is a bit of a misstep-- not because it's a bad song, or because it's a "sellout," but because I feel like Feist is kind of wasted and peripheral on the song. If Wilco is going to bring in a big female guest vocalist to duet with Tweedy I want it to be like The Pogues "Fairytale of New York," or Belle & Sebastian's "Lazy Line Painter Jane," where the female vocalist really makes her presence known. Maybe that has as much to do with Feist's singing style, but I still think it's a bit of a missed opportunity to do something more interesting and different.

Eric said...

And on a related note, to borrow Texplush's favorite analysis of Wilco albums, if
Summerteeth was Tweedy's love letter to Jay Bennett;
YHF was Tweedy's love letter to Glenn Kotche;
A Ghost is Born was Tweedy's love letter to Jim O'Rourke;
and Sky Blue Sky was Tweedy's love letter to Nels Cline;
(Did I get all those right?)
then who is this a love letter to???
I'll throw out a theory -- not difficult given the title -- it's his love letter to *Wilco*. BAM.

texplush said...

You just stole the theme of my review, but I think it's is a love letter to the fans, but"wilco" is sort of the same thing.
As for Feist, I think her presence is more of an Emylou Harris shout out than a guest spot. You have to admit the blend is impeccable.

Eric said...

Meh-- Emmylou Harris HARMONIZED. They're just singing in octaves the whole time (until the bridge, but even then she's just mixed kind of low or something).

texplush said...

Fine, then. Consider it a DUET, in the fine tradition of Linda Rondstat and Aaron Neville.

Eric said...

Ha- I'll take it! (Again, not that it's a bad song, just that it could have been more. Your comment inspired me to cue up Gram Parsons' two solo albums on my iPod and yeah, "You and I" doesn't touch this stuff. Gram and Emmylou's blend is out of this fucking world.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zR-tKVt0VU
The way they sound on "And I saw my devil/And I saw my deep blue sea" sends chills down my spine...

Quinapalus said...

Fair enough Eric: "You and I" is not as good as one of the greatest country rock songs ever written...if Jeff Tweedy had written "Return of the Grievous Angel" it would have been better.

Also, total comment stream tangent: have you guys typed Pitchfork into google lately? I did today for some reason instead of just going straight to the website, and either someone at google is very confused, or Pitchfork actually has an ironic description of itself when you search for it! To wit: "Advertising for agriculture, farming, livestock, exotic animals, equine and western art, all horse breeds and all cattle breeds."

Pity the farmer actually trying to look for some of those items!

Eric said...

Also, for what it's worth, "Everlasting Everything" is not nearly as good as "A Day in the Life."
In serio,the back-and-forth comparisons just got out of hand when Tex brought up Emmylou Harris and I happened to put on Grievous Angel. My original point is just that Leslie Feist, who has quite a lovely voice, could have been put to better use on that song (especially since she's the very first ever lady on a Wilco track!).

Also, I think that P4k description (I just tried that and got the same thing) is a cached relic from when "pitchfork.com" really was an agriculture website and the Pitchfork we know and love and love to hate was only at "pitchforkmedia.com."

drischord said...

The Feist vocal is a waste. I don't like her anyway, but the hype surrounding her appearance is waaaay overblown. Unison lines sung slightly out of sync with Tweedy. La di fucking da.

texplush said...

I think it's a beautiful song, personally. Calling it a 'waste' certainly seems like an over reaction. The only hype surrounding it has been created by the haters.

texplush said...

quick question for D -
i'm seeing Wilco on Monday in bklyn with Eric and Q,and i was going to forgoe their show later that week an hour north of the city because in past years when i've seen them twice, i get sick of hearing Heavy Metal Drummer and War on War over and over. In your opinion, is this tour worth seeing twice?

Eric said...

Listening now. Looking forward to Tex's all encompassing review. "You Never Know" just came on and I just heard another Tusk connection-- that pounded drum intro is straight from the beginning of "What Makes You Think You're The One" (which is an awesome song).

texplush said...

next assignment: look for the Tom Petty in the same song.

Eric said...

Also loving the Summerteeth throwback in the bridge of "Sonny Feeling." Actually, that whole song is pretty Summerteeth. Unwitting tribute to Jay Bennett?

drischord said...

Tour actually is worth a second ticket. I'm sorry I haven't posted my account yet, but it was the best Wilco show I've ever seen.

And, for the record, neither War on War nor Heavy Metal Drummer was performed.

Via Chicago said...

Late to the game, but what's new.

First things first - Tex, I haven't even seen them this tour (because, you know, we get weird one offs here as oppossed to actual tour dates) but I can not fathom why it would not be worth seeing twice. Best live band in the land.

OK, as for this album. I finally gave it a very complete listen today and... I love it. I'm completely with Q that Bull Black Nova is a highlight - it's one that I love relistening to, but really loved the first time as I didn't know where it was going and it just built and built. Which brings me to my overall thought on this album - I love how RICH everything is here. Eric I think mentioned that nothing stood out yet for him, and I can kind of get that as there is just an absurd amount going on in every song. Listen to almost anything on here and there's all kinds of change ups, little tossed off drum fills, quick guitar hooks, small asides - it's great. Yes it van make it a bit hard to instantly digest, but I think it gives the thing HUGE replay value as you just find more and more layers to every song. As an easy example, check out the sweet lick after the odd "Synthesizer Patell" lyric in You Never Know - totally great riff that is used once and never again. It's all very busy, but without sounding forced. Really, Tweedy's song writing skills allow the band to capture just a straight up good song, while the extreme musical skills of everyone involves allows them to beef up a simple song into something much more complex and grand.

So yeah, great stuff I think. Personal highlights are Bull Black Nova, Solitaire (Q - TOTALLY), One Wing with just a tiny notch down for You Never Know, I'll Fight, Wilco the song, and Sonny Feeling. Songs I most look forward to hearing live: Bull Black Nova, Sonny Feeling.

I also have some extensive thoughts about how Wilco compares to Radiohead and how my own personal live experience shapes my appreciation for both bands, but now is not the time or place I think. Perhaps soon...

Quinapalus said...

Is "Synthesizer Patel" the name of a guy in Mumbai answering customer service calls for a musical equipment company?

nfessel said...

You Never Know, One Wing, and Bull Black Nova are my favorites. Great stuff. Would like to see them live.