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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Wilco
Wilco (The Album)
Nonesuch

Rating: 5.4/10 ?


June 30, 2009
The death of Jay Bennett could not have come at a more pivotal moment in his former band's career. Which is not to say that the passing of a criminally cast-aside and sincerely-missed collaborator's death is anything but tragic, but instead that fans must accept that the man who contributed to Wilco's greatest music is gone. And Tweedy's songwriting and arrangements will never be the same without him.

Make no mistake, as a sincere well-wisher, it's apparent that Jeff and Jay's separation was important for Jeff Tweedy the person, but it's clearer and clearer that Jeff Tweedy the musician is a product of his surroundings. And virtuoso drummer and guitarist aside, no one in the current line-up makes up for the loss of the master arranger and producer with imagination and style all his own. If he were a ball player, he'd be the guy that makes the whole team better without getting much credit until you trade him and start losing. Without a guy like Bennett or later Jim O'Rourke, all the virtuoso guitar players and drummers in the world can't make Wilco (The Album) into anything but music that's hopefully a blast to perform live, because it certainly isn't fun to listen to.

Beginning with the sprightly bounce of "Wilco (The Song)" the band chugs into the album with a fun piano-driven jaunt and its eponymous lyrics weave yet another tale of "what does music mean," a semi-frequent conversation that Jeff has with himself, but from here the album loses steam and consistency. Where "Wilco (The Song)" (this parenthesis thing never gets old to us enthusiasts) has a playful "Werewolves of London"-style heft, the following track "Deeper Down" slows down the pace and puts more focus on some of Tweedy's least interesting lyrics in quite some time, unveiling some awkwardly-stuffed prose: "By the end of the bout/ He was punched out/ fist capsizing/ muscles shouting."

But it picks up again with "One Wing" and "Bull Black Nova," probably the two most exciting uses for Wilco's newfound predilection for guitar noodling and excitement for weird time signatures so far. "Bull Black Nova" in particular is a jittery and jarring tune that seems to describe the aftermath of a murder, and would have been a standout on any of the last three Wilco albums. From there the album slides into a sort of vanilla, VH1-ready adult-contemporary, which is occasionally tuneful and pretty ("You and I") but mostly tedious; worry sets in when Tweedy rhymes "children" with "children" in lead single "You Never Know." This stretch is listenable at best.

With Wilco (or anyone, really) simply Not Sucking isn't a high enough compliment. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot still ranks among the best of the decade and A Ghost is Born has also aged well; not to mention the slew of side projects (Loose Fur, Minus 5, Golden Smog, Jim O'Rourke's Insignificance) that lifted Wilco to a class of musical ambitiousness with a diverse output. To simply not want to skip tracks isn't exactly saying anything, and certainly not that Wilco has made any kind of return to relevance. But Jeff the person is doing just fine, and instead of chastising this release, let's be happy that the guy who gave us more serious, occasionally harrowing masterpieces such as Summerteeth and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot finally seems to be having some fun. Next time it'd be nice if he let us in on it.

Reviewed by Cory Tendering
No biographical information is currently available.

See other reviews by Cory Tendering

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