Sunday, August 9, 2009

Wilco (The Album)

Wilco’s back with their highly anticipated Wilco (the album). After a couple of records where they experimented with different sounds and styles (A Ghost Is Born and Sky Blue Sky), Wilco (the album) was dubbed as the bands return to their roots. This record was being compared to their earlier classics, most notably, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. So, does Wilco (the album) return the band to their former sound and style? Let’s spin the disc and find out!

The new disc opens with the very strong Wilco (the song). From the start, the music sounds pleasurable, an attack on the senses that is overwhelming. Jeff Tweedy’s voice is terrific as he helps deliver a solid opening song. A soft rocker with a steady beat, catchy hook, and pleasant listening experience, Wilco (the song) is a great track.

Black Bull Nova is a standout piece which has drawn comparisons to Spiders (Kidsmoke) from A Ghost Is Born. The blistering guitar solo in the middle of the song and the shape of sound that the track is built around solidify the comparisons. Hearing them played back to back in concert would be a real treat.

You and I is a great duet with Leslie Feist that puts a nice touch on the disc. This is a pleasant, enjoyable song with great vocals from both Jeff Tweedy and Leslie. The simple harmony and quiet guitar riff blended with soft drums helps to make this a candlelight track. You and I is certainly one of the best songs on the disc.

Musically and lyrically, WIlco continues to evolve with each release. For Wilco (the album)they’ve slipped further away from their alt country, rock and roll, Uncle Tupelo sound and trend more toward a mellow, soft rock, jazzy type of sound. While different from the musical styling that put them on the map, it is a good evolution. Musically and lyrically, Wilco has matured and nurtured their songs into a more adult sound.

While a couple of the news songs would have fit in perfectly on Wilco’s debut record (AM), I didn’t find the comparisons to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot to be accurate. Although this disc sounds decidedly different from their previous two releases, which were leading further and further away from their alt country roots, it is certainly not YHF-era Wilco, and that’s all right. There will never be another Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, which is what makes that album so excellent.

The current Wilco lineup of Jeff Tweedy, John Stirratt, Glen Kotche, Mikael Jorgensen, Nels Cline, and Pat Sansone are certainly hitting their stride together. The time spent as a group on the road and in the studio has helped them hone their ability to create together and the fruit of that hard work shines through in their current offering.

Wilco (the album) is one of the better Wilco records, certainly their strongest since Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, which might be what caused all those comparisons. Make no mistake, this is not YHF, nor is it similar to that classic. However, this disc is a solid recording that will definitely please current Wilco fans, and is bound to win some new ones along the way. A strong album with terrific lyrics and excellent, well crafted music that pleases the eardrums, Wilco (the album) is a worthy investment.

Ryo’s Rating: 8.5 (out of 10)

Track Listing
Wilco (the song)
Deeper Down
One Wing
Bull Black Nova
You And I
You Never Know
Country Disappeared
I’ll Fight
Sonny Feeling
Everlasting Everything

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