Tag Archives: Wilco

CD Monday

Mermaid Avenue

I haven’t gotten too wrapped up in the 2016 election yet, but this week’s CD Monday was chosen in reaction (protest, honestly) to a certain someone announcing his candidacy.

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Wilco

The Incredible Shrinking Tour of Chicago

Do you like books, but find it to be complete bullshit that they don’t play songs and YouTube videos for you? Me too! I blame that a-hole, Johannes Gutenberg. Movable type? More like type that’s just sitting on there on the page, putting me to sleep. Amiright or amiright?!?

THANKFULLY, Wilco is here to save the day (they did say they’d love us, baby). The group has released an iBook entitled The Incredible Shrinking Tour of Chicago, documenting a 5-show mini-tour of their hometown that took place last December. The book is free of charge, and includes set lists, photos, audio from one performance of “One Sunday Morning (Song For Jane Smiley’s Boyfriend),” and a YouTube video of the band rehearsing “The Weight” with Mavis Staples and Nick Lowe. It’s a really slick experience, one well worth checking out, even if you weren’t in attendance at any of those 5 December shows.

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Dr. John

Locked Down

The role of the record producer has always been somewhat mysterious to me. I mean, I think I have a pretty good idea of what they do — recruit backing musicians; oversee tracking, mixing and mastering; provide general creative direction, yadda, yadda, yadda — but when I was younger, I pictured the producer as a suit-wearing, arms-crossing grump who hung out in the control room, called people “baby” and yelled things like “You tell that sonofabitch that I’ll rip his head off and shit down his throat!” into a Zack Morris cell phone. Crazy, right? And I realize now that the linchpin that held this warped mental image together was the assumption that the producer was older, wiser and more powerful than the musicians.

Two recent albums have helped sweep away the few remaining shards of this ridiculous image, in large part because their producers are a whole generation younger than the artists they’re advising, and because the artists are already legends in the recording industry. The first of the albums was Mavis Staples’ You Are Not Alone, on which Jeff Tweedy of Wilco — 28 years her junior — has the producer’s credit (he wrote a few songs and played some guitar as well). In a way, it felt like he was curating as much as he was producing and participating, given Staples’ place in the soul canon and the reverence that Tweedy showed in all the interviews that accompanied the album’s release. The whole project had a wonderfully positive feeling to it, and the album itself is fantastic (I wrote a short post about it last May).

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Punch Brothers

Who's Feeling Young Now?

Every once in a while, I’ll be watching a drummer go to town during a rhythmically demanding section of a song, and I’ll say to myself, “That dude is an alien.” Certain drummers have that extra gear that makes it look like they’re working with more than two arms and two legs — how else could they be doing so much at once and/or making so much noise? Not so coincidentally, I described Battles’ John Stanier as “otherworldly” when I witnessed his handiwork at the 9:30 Club a few months back, and I’d be inclined to throw that same adjective at Wilco’s Glen Kotche, especially when it comes to his chaotic outbursts in “Via Chicago.”

So what the hell does this have to do with Punch Brothers?!? They don’t even have a drummer! 

I’m glad you asked! Chris Thile, the group’s frontman and mandolin player, is one of the few people outside the world of stick-wielding snare-strikers that produces that same super-specific, disbelieving reaction: “That dude is an alien.” And I’m not alone — Ed Helms from The Office has had the exact same thought.

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Read It Later Roulette

Do you use Read It Later? No? You should! It’s a great way to keep track of all the content you don’t have time to check out right away. Apparently I haven’t had much time at all, because my Read It Later list has gotten crazy long. As such (and such as), I figured this would be a good opportunity to play another round of Read It Later Roulette. Let’s spin the nonexistent wheel!

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Black Keys

Us music fans are a fickle bunch, aren’t we? We love having gigs and gigs of tunes, but we’re not so fond of paying for them. Even though 10-buck-a-month streaming music services like Spotify are on the rise and are a step in the right direction, nothing fattens up a royalty check like consumers actually buying an album, be that a CD, record or download from an online store like iTunes. Well some bands aren’t taking the fight lying down. As record sales decline, we’re seeing some wildly creative promotions associated with album releases, and I salute the bands behind them. Take Wilco for example, who entered everyone who preordered their new album, The Whole Love, into a weekly giveaway contest, where one of the prizes was a Wilco-themed fixed-gear bicycle (insert your own “I’m a Wheel” joke here). Or take the Flaming Lips, who recently released music on a USB drive that was buried inside a 7-pound gummy skull (honestly, this is among the tamest of Wayne Coyne’s recent experiments with packaging). Or St. Vincent, who turned the release of the first single from her new album, Strange Mercy, into an interactive event, inviting fans to tweet the hashtag “#strangemercy” and posting the song to her website once enough people did. Well I have a new favorite in the world of viral marketing: The Black Keys. The purveyors of one of last year’s best albums in Brothers have just announced their new album, El Camino, and they’ve enlisted  the help of Bob Odenkirk of Mr. Show with Bob and David and Breaking Bad fame in promoting it. In the video above, Odenkirk plays a used car salesman who is trying to sell a crappy van identical to the one that, despite its not actually being an El Camino, graces the upcoming album’s cover, but he can’t seem to get a decent take of the commercial he’s shooting. It’s a great clip, especially if you’re familiar with the actor’s body of work, or if you’re super depressed because Breaking Bad just ended and you need something, ANYTHING that’ll chase away the withdrawal symptoms for a spell. Ya know, whichever. Check it out above, listen to “Psychotic Girl” from their previous album below, buy Brothers here and start getting excited for December 6, when El Camino rolls into a record store near you.

The Black Keys — “Psychotic Girl

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Wilco

(Editor’s note: Wow, What the Hell Just Happened Week certainly dragged on, didn’t it? The idea was to recap all the amazing music I saw between 9/21 and 9/25, openers and headliners alike, and though travels prevented me from finishing this last chapter in a timely fashion, they also gave me plenty of time to mull it over. Without further ado, here’s the final installment (complete with eyeball-friendly left justification and paragraphs!).

What the Hell Just Happened?!? Week: Day 5 — Wilco

It’s hard to write about your favorite band in the whole wide world, and I can say with conviction that Wilco has earned that distinction for me.

Despite that conviction about my favorite band, I can’t tell you what my favorite song in the world is. The same is true with albums. I think it’s because the answer changes so often. But shouldn’t it be the other way around? Songs don’t change. They can be remixed, covered, sampled and chopped up to fit into a 15-second commercial, but the original text stays the same (Can Let It Be Naked be the one exception? Can we all pretend that’s the real one?).

Bands, on the other hand, evolve. Bands venture in new musical directions, add members, find religion, go to rehab, change labels, become political, release concept albums, go back into rehab… they’re as dynamic as the people that comprise them. Such is certainly the case with Wilco, a group that’s undergone a lineup change after almost every record, the exceptions being their latest two efforts. So why is it so easy for me to say that Wilco is my favorite band? Why hasn’t that changed? Their show at Merriweather Post Pavilion on September 25 gave me the perfect opportunity to figure that out, but not for the reason I expected.

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