no-cover

Wilco – [Album]

Like
604
0
Saturday, 22 October 2011

Wilco kicks off their eighth studio album, The Whole Love, with the type of musical experimentation that we have come to love from the band, but what follows throughout The Whole Love is an album which wants to give listeners the chance to finally take in all that Wilco has given them over the past seventeen years.

The lead-off track from the album, "Art of Almost," hits with a vibe almost reminiscent of Radiohead at first until it staggers into its own and you know that what they are saying is "Look this is not an A.M.-era Wilco record, but give it a chance.” As the album continues I come across the track "Sunloathe,” which would not have been out of place on a George Harrison/Brian Wilson collaboration. Yes, it's true that the song is nothing new but, in the same breath, it brings a style of music that is missing from today's records back to life: there is a history in The Whole Love, and care clearly taken to adhere to it. The term "Dad Rock" comes to mind as I listen to the album; it's a term that Jeff Tweedy has no problem with, as he was quoted as saying in a recent interview in Men's Journal – "When people say dad rock, they actually just mean rock. There are a lot of things today that don’t have anything to do with rock music, so when people hear something that makes them think, 'This is derived from some sort of continuation of the rock ethos,' it gets labeled dad rock. And, to me, those people are misguided. I don’t find anything undignified about being a dad or being rocking, you know?"

The Whole Love makes no apologies for wearing its many influences on its sleeve. The first track in which this is very evident for me is "Born Alone.” There, the lyrics of the song just flow like a well-used pen across paper but, as I was giving it a listen the third time through, I was feeling Stephen Malkmus and Pavement make their way into my head. Another track off of the album where you get a déjà vu-type feeling is "Capitol City"; the Beatle-esque sounds of a man wishing he was with his baby in the country, rather than being stuck in the city will lounge in your memory long after the song peaks and begins to fade.

The album closes out with "One Sunday Morning (Song for Jane Smiley's Boyfriend).” This is a song that you almost have to invest yourself in because it is no two-minute pop song; it's a twelve-minute story about a father and a son. It is important to note that the song does run and, at times, you may begin to wonder where its end is – but then when it's over and you'll find yourself wishing the journey would not have ended so soon.   

After listening and really enjoying The Whole Love for the last week or so, I am pleased to say that it has made the cut and will be added to the semi-regular rotation. I just realized that this is the end of the review and I did not use the terms No Depression or Alt Country – somehow, I think the band would be pleased to know that, after so many years of actively battling against such generic nomenclature (at least since Yankee Hotel Foxtrot) they appear to have finally escaped and are simply in a league all by themselves.

Artist:    

www.wilcoworld.net/
www.myspace.com/wilco
www.facebook.com/wilcohq
www.twitter.com/wilco

Album:

The Whole Love
is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

no-cover

Wilco – [Album]

Like
0
0
Friday, 10 July 2009

Funny thing about Wilco and their luck. Ever since the band lost a member as well as the confidence of their old record label (Reprise) during the recording sessions for Yankee Hotel Foxtrot but came out on top with a whole lot of kudos for the aforementioned album, the band's fans have tried to imbue each succeeding release with the same sort of mental distress – whether genuine, deserved or actually present or not. It has reached the point now where the single most fashionable statement for fans to utter is “I don't know if I like this new album, because <insert flimsy or nit-picking excuse here>.” Most recently, it has been new(-ish) Wilco recruit Nels Cline that has come under fire for simply adding his own two cents and sensibilities to the writing process; some crass super-fans have even gone so far as to whisper, in contrived, hushed tones for melodramatic effect, “He's ruining Wilco.”

In a word, “Bollocks.” For most every band, writing is a group effort which means that the material must pass through a succession of filters – each with a voice that says “It's good” or “It sucks.” That means there is still a quality control mechanism and, if something comes out with the band's name on it, said band stands behind the product.

It stands to reason then that while fans might not “get it” initially, an album may just take longer to decode. The irony in that statement is that Wilco (The Album) isn't even complicated; in fact it's very possibly the simplest record the band has released since AM.

In the name of offering some Cliff's Notes for fans compelled to read into anything at all however, look at the possibility of age playing a factor into (The Album). This record is the seventh full-length studio release for a band that has been playing together for fourteen years. They've stretched every boundary that it has interested them to stretch and, through it all, they've always kept an eye on a series of influences including Woody Guthrie, Neil Young, Pere Ubu and the more aesthetically inclined of the first wave of punks and no-wavers including Television, Sonic Youth and Patti Smith. Now having outrun the career arcs of many of those acts and established a reputation in the industry, Wilco (The Album) plays with a confidence and comfort that far more obviously offers tribute to the styles of each of those acts as well as working with a comparable form of maturity that each of those aforementioned eventually began to express eventually.

Fuck the double-talk – (The Album) is the mature and comfortable work of a band that doesn't feel like it should have anything else to prove – not unlike the way that Neil Young began operating in the late Eighties and continues to.

From the opening thump of “Wilco (The Song),” Wilco walks confidently through a series of working class and unadorned mid-tempo rockers that don't bother with statements or any ambition other than to make another quintessential “Wilco” album – no deep-reaching messages or sentiments, just what fans know to sound like Wilco. That sort of delivery and approach fairly smacks of what Neil Young was doing around the period beginning with This Note's For You and through Ragged Glory: working with the assured knowledge that it will work and that there is an audience. There are some good and maybe even classic songs laced in there (as “Rockin' In The Free World,” “Ten Man Workin',” “Crime In The City” and “Country Home” were for Young, so are “One Wing,” “You And I,” “You Never Know” and “Country Disappeared” for Wilco), but an equal share of cross-bred, stylistic experiments like “One Wing” and the sonorous “Bull Black Nova” that will win over or lose listeners completely depending on their mood, but that is very much on a one-by-one basis. Those that do get it still won't say that Wilco (The Album) is the single greatest effort by the band – question the taste of anyone that makes such a contention – but it would be hard to argue that it's poor too; the worst it could be called is light compared with other monsters in the band's catalog like Summerteeth and Sky Blue Sky.

Such is the most recent work of a band self-assured enough to sit comfortably, aware of who they are and perfectly happy with that position and that isn't a damning statement either. At the beginning of this review, it was contended that Wilco has been the band that has wilfully gone its own way no matter what the possible consequences and (The Album) continues that spirit without apology. Once again with (The Album), Wilco makes the point that they're their own band – they unflinchingly do what feels right to them and don't bother looking back to see if anyone's coming along for the ride. For those that are surprised by such conduct, they'd be best served to get used to it; it's Wilco's ride and, if where it's going makes a listener uncomfortable, they'd be advised to abandon ship – you'll be missed, but not pandered to.

Band:

Wilco official site

Wilco myspace

Album:

Wilco (The Album)
is out now and available here on Amazon .

Comments are closed.