July 5, 2009

NOIR GUITAR (via Steve Martinovich):

First Listen: 'Wilco (The Album)': Hear The Band's Impressive New Album In Its Entirety (Bob Boilen, 6/24/09, NPR.org)

It starts off sounding more like a Velvet Underground record, perhaps a version of "I'm Waiting for the Man." There are similar chord progressions and distorted guitars. And though they often wear some of their influences outwardly — there is a Beatles-esque song and a Television song for sure — the new Wilco record is all about a great band playing great original music on an album filled with great songs.

The band's seventh record, with the simply funny title Wilco (The Album) and the hilarious cover art showing a camel with an orange party hat standing beside an orange cake, was recorded at Neil Finn's (Split Enz, Crowded House) studio in New Zealand. Overdubs came later, and those were recorded back in Chicago and mixed in California, with longtime Wilco engineer Jim Scott. The record will be released on Tuesday, June 30.

Wilco (The Album) features a duet with Feist, called "You and I," some remarkable guitar playing by the insane Nels Cline, strong singing by Jeff Tweedy, and all around good performances from the rest of Wilco: John Stirratt on bass; Glenn Kotche, percussion; Mikael Jorgensen, keyboard; and Pat Sansone, a lot of everything.

Wilco's latest is a graceful note (LA Times, July 1, 2009)
The music promises "the comfort of a kiss" for the defeated boxer in "Deeper Down," swathed in a lovely, chamber-pop arrangement augmented by harpsichord and sighing lap-steel guitar. In the soul ballad "Country Disappeared," the troubled lovers "turn our faces up to the sun."

"You and I" explores a fragile bond, as voiced by Tweedy and guest vocalist Feist. The song's sparse simplicity contrasts with the orchestral flourishes of "Everlasting," which surges with quiet conviction and finishes with a bird-song guitar solo.

Amid these small, gracefully executed moments, two polar-opposite songs define the album. One is a stomach-churning wake-up call:

"It's in my hair, there's blood in the sink/I can't calm down, I can't think," Tweedy blurts on "Bull Black Nova." Locked inside a funnel cloud of guitar turbulence, he screams like a trapped animal. It is among the most harrowing songs Wilco has ever recorded.

"Wilco (The Song)" is its antidote, a boisterous shot of reassurance. Tweedy sings over a chugging guitar line, "Put on your headphones before you explode/Wilco, Wilco, Wilco will love ya, baby." It's both a tongue-in-cheek wink and a blast of feel-good sincerity, riding a wave of guitar drone and punctuated with bell tones. It is that rare thing: an anthem with a sense of humor, a grand statement that doesn't sound like a grand statement. Listen to it, and try not to smile.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 5, 2009 7:55 AM
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