Archive for Wilco

The Cool Intelligence Behind Wilco’s Free “Star Wars” Album

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on July 18, 2015 by johnbuckley100

So Wilco surprised us all, Christmas in July, with the free download this week of Star Wars.  If the album sucked, it would be a stunt.  Because the album is first rate — stripped down, back to the roots, unpretentious and punk-rock pure — it stands as a marvel.  Let’s think about what they’ve done here, for a moment.

Out of insecurity, corporate hubris, and the sentimental gullibility of a longtime partner, U2 forced upon us whatever it was that album was called that Apple foisted upon our iTunes library last year.  U2 is a much bigger, more successful band than Wilco, at least they have been over time, and out of what Bono admitted was a need on their part to make sure everyone listened to what they still could create, they took a big payment from Apple and all of us woke up to find an album we didn’t ask for hogging bits on our hard drives.  It wasn’t bad, but the manner they forced it on us was so oft-putting, it left a copper and merde taste in everyone’s mouth, save for members of the U2 fan club.  And it backfired perfectly: the album proved that U2 had outlasted its welcome, which was kind of sad.

Wilco is an amazing success story, as an entity.  After living through one of those epic record label disasters that foretold the imminent collapse of the industry — when one unit of Warner Bros. rejected Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, still perhaps their greatest record, only to have it picked up and released by another unit of Warner Bros. — over time, Wilco took complete control of their fate, and as “I Love My Label” attests, they created the only record label they could trust: themselves.  Wilco is an institution, American superstars for lovers of good music.  They treat their fans to live albums downloadable from their website, tour when they wish, host their own festival.  They do everything on their own terms.  But do they still, you know, matter?  Are they still relevant, great?

Star Wars is a really great album, reveling in the guitar-based core of the band.  Whereas on Yankee Hotel Foxtrot the band came to us like mysterious radio signals out of the foggy sea, and whereas the most recent The Whole Love sounded like a band that didn’t want to cede the mantle of progressive experimentation to Radiohead — another band that surprises all with free album releases — Star Wars sounds like smart and soulful kids getting together in a studio to have fun.  They just happen to be a magically adept unit, able to turn on a dime, rock harder than bands the age of young Spencer Tweedy, and have a recognizable sound to mine.

We’re grateful to Wilco for the free album, which happens also to be a brilliant career move — a true gift which we can access on our terms, even as they offer it to us on theirs.  We are grateful to Wilco for a whole lot more than this album, but it’s a nice reminder, isn’t it?

Wilco’s Roadcase 23 — Their Set From Austin Last Weekend — May Be Their Best Live Album Ever

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , on October 20, 2013 by johnbuckley100

There was a time in rock’n’roll when the Stones would put out Get Yer Ya-Yas Out, The Who would put out Live At Leeds, or even getting The Clash’s Shea Stadium set released posthumously, was a very big deal.  Live albums often were punctuation marks in an artist’s career, a way of buying time while they recorded that next studio album, or a way of extending the profits from non-stop touring.

But with a nod to the Dead, some years ago, Pearl Jam pioneered the art of releasing virtually every live concert, and in recent years, we’ve had the magnificent collection of Fugazi sets released.  Wilco is now up to 23 Roadcase releases,  and their set from Stubbs last weekend in Austin is possibly their best collection yet.  Here’s the set — a long, comprehensive concert with nods to playing in Texas (Doug Sahm cover, more country than usual), while still coming through with a career-spanning and literally awesome recording.

Here’s the playlist.

01 – Someone Else’s Song
02 – Blood of the Lamb
03 – Hesitating Beauty
04 – Give Back The Key To My Heart [Doug Sahm cover]
05 – Misunderstood
06 – Forget the Flowers
07 – Dead Flowers [The Rolling Stones cover]
08 – Passenger Side
09 – It’s Just That Simple
10 – Handshake Drugs
11 – Hummingbird
12 – Open Mind
13 – Poor Places
14 – Art of Almost
15 – I Might
16 – Impossible Germany
17 – Born Alone
18 – Laminated Cat (aka Not For The Season)
19 – Radio Cure
20 – Via Chicago
21 – Whole Love
22 – I’m Always In Love
23 – Heavy Metal Drummer
24 – Dawned On Me
25 – Happy Birthday [Mildred J. Hill cover]
26 – Shot in the Arm
27 – Jesus, Etc.
28 – California Stars
29 – Walken
30 – I’m the Man Who Loves You
31 – I Got You (At the End of the Century)
32 – Casino Queen
33 – Hoodoo Voodoo
34 – The Lonely 1

 

Ok, So If Ever We Have A Bar Mitzvah, We’re Hiring Wilco

Posted in Music with tags , , , on July 11, 2013 by johnbuckley100

Some years ago, when we worked at AOL, a prominent senior executive hired the Dave Matthews Band for his daughter’s Bat Mitzvah.  Now that we have listened to the magnificent set of covers Wilco just released for sale on their website, we feel duty-bound to alert billionaires everywhere, this is the cover band you want to hire!  Just the segue from “Dead Flowers” to “Simple Twist of Fate” shows off the band’s breadth. By the time they transition from the Kink’s “Waterloo Sunset” to Abba’s “Waterloo,” they’ve not just proved their point — yeah, best cover band ever — they’ve delighted us sufficiently to throw this into the pile for consideration, later this year, for Tulip Frenzy’s Album of The Year.

Seriously, Who Wouldn’t Download This Set of Wilco Covers?

Posted in Music with tags , , on July 8, 2013 by johnbuckley100

So they put the Saturday night set of covers from the Solid Sound fest up on Roadcase, where you download it to your library here. How can you possibly resist this set?

01 – The Boys Are Back in Town (Thin Lizzy cover)
02 – Cut Your Hair (Pavement cover)
03 – In the Street (Big Star cover)
04 – New Madrid (Uncle Tupelo cover)
05 – Dead Flowers (The Rolling Stones cover)
06 – Simple Twist of Fate (Bob Dylan cover)
07 – Ripple (Grateful Dead cover)
08 – Who Loves the Sun (The Velvet Underground cover)
09 – And Your Bird Can Sing (The Beatles cover)
10 – And Your Bird Can Sing (The Beatles cover) (2nd time)
11 – Psychotic Reaction (Count Five cover)
12 – Tom Courtenay (Yo La Tengo cover) (with Yo La Tengo)
13 – James Alley Blues (Richard Brown cover)
14 – Waterloo Sunset (The Kinks cover) (with Lucius)
15 – Waterloo (ABBA cover) (with Lucius)
16 – (What’s So Funny ’bout) Peace, Love and Understanding (Nick Lowe cover)
17 – Marquee Moon (Television cover)
18 – Happy Birthday To You (Mildred J. Hill cover) (to Pat Sansone)
19 – (Don’t Fear) The Reaper (Blue Oyster Cult cover)
20 – Cinnamon Girl (Neil Young cover)
21 – Get Lucky (Daft Punk cover)
22 – Surrender (Cheap Trick cover)
23 – Color Me Impressed (The Replacements cover) (with Tommy Stinson)
24 – Kingpin
25 – Thank You Friends (Big Star cover)

Encore:
26 – The Weight (The Band cover) (with Lucius) (dedicated to Levon Helm)
27 – Roadrunner (The Modern Lovers cover) (with Yo La Tengo)

 

Wilco At Wolf Trap

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on July 18, 2012 by johnbuckley100

 

iPhone 4S

Wilco are virtuosi, we’ve known that for years, but the last few times we’ve seen them, there has been a level of perfection that belied spontaneity.  Not so last night at Wolf Trap, where a band that plays tighter than a rusted rivet was loose, and frisky, and don’t even get us started on Nels Cline.  At one point — maybe it was after “The Art of Almost” and “Handshake Drugs” had Cline’s left hand working the frets with the force and precision of pistons in a V12 Aston Martin, or it could have been just before the Duane and Dicky harmony guitar in “Impossible Germany” — Tweedy looked over at his unlikely partner, and then at us in the crowd, and all he could do was smile, as in, “Do you believe this guy?”

 

iPhone 4S

Somehow, we lucked out and glommed what we were forced to refer to as the Mitt Romney tickets — not just in the 1 percent, but in the .01 percent, you know, so close we were listening to the band directly from their amplifiers, not via the ginormous sound system way above us that pumped out the songs all the way to the folks on the lawn, but in the range of the band’s own monitors — and inside that auditory bubble, Wilco was as fine as we have ever heard them, going all the way back to the Jay Bennett days.  Relaxed and having fun, with essentially the same physical set and playlist as on their tour last Autumn, Wilco’s making the most of their summer vacation.  We look forward to new music, but are grateful they played songs from throughout their magnificent and storied career.

Lee Ranaldo played a fine set to kick things off, and with Cline doing double duty and playing with his friend, you could imagine, from the guitars, that couples therapy had done the trick, and Sonic Youth were reformed.

Kicking Television

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on July 18, 2012 by johnbuckley100

Wilco at Wolf Trap.  Pretty great show.  iPhone 4S.

Tulip Frenzy’s #7 Best Album of 2011: Wilco’s “The Whole Love”

Posted in Music with tags , on November 26, 2011 by johnbuckley100

Ambitious, but not to a fault, comforting yet still with an edge, America’s finest band explored new ground on The Whole Love even while producing a work on the continuum stretching back to A Ghost Is Born. Jeff Tweedy dissed the dissers in advance of the album’s release, mocking those purists who, no matter what Wilco now does would go, “Meh.”  The fact remains that Wilco, in the kind of groove the Stones hit with Sticky Fingers, have had a run of great albums, and while Wilco, The Album gave us pause, the moment we heard “The Art of Almost,” and then “Born Alone,” we knew it wasn’t over.

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