Friday, September 18, 2009

Wilco - "Wilco (The Album)" CD

Wilco are possibly the greatest American rock act you've never heard. They don't get much mainstream radio support, but their live shows sell out routinely across the country. Coming from someone who adores Wilco's 2002 masterpiece "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" (maybe one of the most inspiring modern rock recordings of the decade -- seriously), and who thought their last album ("Sky Blue Sky") was boring classic rock (think the Eagles), this new Wilco is a welcome return to form. Combining the sensibilities of both their more abstract leanings and accessible rock, this pop-edged triumph has enough inventive little angles and sounds to make it an indispensable addition to my 2009's "best of" list. Beginning with the rootsy, rollicking feel-good hit "Wilco" (yeah, it's the band's ode to itself, tongue-in-cheek), it gets more serious with songs like "One Wing", which seems to be a reflective and spacious bit of wisdom. "Bull Black Nova" comes in loud and noisy, then is followed up by the plaintive "You And I" featuring lovely backing vocals by indie folkstress Feist. "You Never Know" brings to mind some of the Beatles' better melodies, and the chorus of "I don't care anymore" is typically strong, wedging itself into your head long before the song ends. "I'll Fight" is a beautiful love song to life itself. Jeff Tweedy's emotive everyman vocals are weathered/tempered perfectly, and the band's rich, expressive songwriting proves to be a perfect foil, enveloping his vocals with a diverse and lush set of sounds, tempos, and textures. From heavier rock to drifty laments, Wilco are masters of their craft. There's not a single dud here. My fullest recommendations! (Nonesuch)

Wilco World

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