Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Heavy Lifting

I've only listened to The Whole Love a few times so far, and as a super hard core Wilco fan I LOVE it. That said, I can accept the proposition that someone less devoted to the band could enjoy it less than I do. That said, the AV Club review really annoys me. Not because they give it a "B," but because of the condescending, "advice to the band" kind of approach the review takes. It's something nearly worthy of Pitchfork:

As enjoyable as The Whole Love is—and it’s an appreciable improvement over the wan Wilco—it still has some of its predecessor’s slight, low-stakes feel. The Whole Love is an album of reliable, occasionally exceptional, but mostly just solid pleasures from a very good band that doesn’t seem interested in doing the heavy lifting it takes to be great. Wilco’s early records seemed like the product of painful deliberation and unmitigated tension, a real life-or-death proposition; The Whole Love breezes by like a sunny Saturday afternoon among best friends. Now that Wilco has finally found its comfort zone, it might be time to venture elsewhere for a change.

I just have two comments:
1. Wilco "doesn't seem interested in doing the heavy lifting it takes to be great"? What does that mean? If they'd just worked a little harder and shown some dedication they could have written another Yankee Hotel Foxtrot? It's like saying: "what happened to the Martin Scorsese of Goodfellas? If only he'd been willing to do some more heavy lifting, The Aviator could have been just as good, but he lost his nerve."

2. Does he think Wilco needs more "unmitigated tension" to get back to its old self? It reminds me of an interview I once heard with Joni Mitchell from the mid 1970s, in which the interviewer said that lots of her fans thought she'd lost the sense of "vulnerability" that she'd had in her earlier work. She said something to the effect of "maybe I don't want to be so damn vulnerable anymore." Hard to argue with that.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Who Needs This To Work More?

Lou Reed + Metallica.  Two artists on the back end of their relevance, who have been increasingly pigeonholed in recent years.  Metallica still sells out stadiums and plays really well, but nearly all of their fans agree that they peaked 25 years ago, with Master of Puppets.  (Mayyybee ...And Justice For All is better, albeit with terrible production, but even that's 23 years old.)

And then you have Lou Reed, who quite possibly peaked 40 years ago, and who some (ahem, me) would argue was overrated at all stages of his career.  And most of his recent career lies in the realm of performing shitty faux-beat poetry for yuppies who paid $175 a pop to be there.

And now they're collaborating, which frankly seems to fit in the general narrative of Metallica post-Hetfield Rehab, where the guy is all about exploring his feelings and embracing the same '60s music he used to openly despise.

Here's the preview track, and I have to say, while it starts pretty badly, it ends up in a pretty cool place.  It's enough to make me interested in the record as a whole.

  The View by Lou Reed & Metallica

 Also note how the promotional website continues in the Lou Reed tradition of describing Metal Machine Music as though it were actually a pre-conceived work of art, as opposed to a stream-of-consciousness piece of crap motivated by disdain for the music industry and fans that had written him off.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Why You Should Avoid Watching Your Adolescent Artistic Heroes Be Interviewed

He was a great songwriter, but I have to admit I'm no longer mesmerized by his interviews. 20 years later, Kurt Cobain just reminds me of the somewhat pretentious goth kid who lived down the hall from me in college.

Get More: Nirvana, Music News

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

R.I.P. R.E.M.

You knew the day was coming, but it's always a little jarring when it actually happens.


On the one hand, you could argue that they had long since peaked and weren't doing anything particularly 'important' these days.  On the other hand, you could argue that they survived their creative valley of Reveal and Around the Sun and had just made two solid records in a row.

But the fact that R.E.M. made it 31 years is pretty cool.  They were never the most superlative band in any category, but they challenged themselves and their audiences and they definitely tried a lot of things over the course of their career.  I never saw them live, although I was supposed to-- festival got rained/lightning-ed out before they came on stage-- and I never heard the greatest things about their shows.  But I do know they put out 5 or 6 of the best records in my lifetime.  (Which also raises the point that since we're all about the same exact age as R.E.M., it's weird to think about the end of a band that's existed for basically your entire life but not before.)

I'm saddened by this news, yet I can also see why now was the time for it to end.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Wilco Streams Live Shows On Their Website

Did you guys realize this? Here's the link: http://wilcoworld.net/#!/roadcase/

I'm currently listening to a New Orleans show, which has a local horn section on about half the tracks. Not the greatest sound quality, but certainly great playing.

And in other news, I pre-ordered the deluxe edition of The Whole Love. Anyone shelling out for the vinyl? (And by anyone, I mean Tex and possibly Dr. K.)