1st Mar 2016Read on Twitter
Wilco have clocked up an impressive 20 years since their first gig in 1994, as The Black Shampoo. For their 20th anniversary, they are relased a retrospective best-of, plus a 4 disc set of rarities. Out in the UK on Dec 1st.
Epic timeline below.
• May 1, 1994 - Uncle Tupelo performs its last show as a band at Mississippi Nights in St. Louis, MO.
• May 1994 - After Uncle Tupelo's split, Jeff Tweedy, Max Johnston, Ken Coomer and John Stirratt carry on as Wilco. Factoid #1: Before arriving at Wilco as the band's name, they considered calling themselves "National Dust."
• August 1994 - The sessions for what would become Wilco's debut album, A.M. begin with Brian Paulson as producer for Reprise Records. (Paulson handled similar duties for Uncle Tupelo's final album, Anodyne.) The Bottle Rockets' Brian Henneman, formerly a guitar tech for Uncle Tupelo, plays lead guitar on the album (and clinking bottles on "Casino Queen"). Jay Bennett joins the band after recording finishes.
• September 13, 1994 - The first released Wilco recording, a collaboration with Syd Straw on the Ernest Tubb song "The T.B. is Whipping Me," debuts on the benefit album Red, Hot + Country.
• November 17, 1994 - Performing as "Black Shampoo," Wilco make its live debut at Cicero's in St. Louis, MO.
• March 28, 1995 - Wilco releases A.M., touring extensively behind it.
• October 29, 1996 - The double-disc Being There is released. Bob Egan joins the band
during recording, while Max Johnston leaves afterwards.
• November 1997 - The band spends a week at Willie Nelson's Texas studio Pedenales
working on demos for songs that would eventually appear on Summerteeth.
• December 1997 - The band take occupancy of The Loft, the Chicago space that they
record and practice in to this day.
• January 1998 - Mermaid Avenue recording sessions begin in Dublin with
singer/songwriter Billy Bragg after a trial run in Chicago the month before. The album
brings to life previously unrecorded lyrics by Woody Guthrie.
• June 23, 1998 - Mermaid Avenue is released and eventually nominated for a GRAMMY
in the category of Best Contemporary Folk album. Bob Egan leaves the band and Leroy
• March 9, 1999 - Summerteeth is released, taking another jump ahead of expectations.
More songs are recorded for eventual inclusion on Mermaid Avenue, Vol. 2.
• January 9, 2000 – The band’s last show at Lounge Ax, the late, great Chicago music
venue co-owned by Tweedy's wife Sue Miller Tweedy and Julia Adams.
• May 30, 2000 - Mermaid Avenue, Vol. 2 debuts, featuring new Guthrie songs from Wilco
as well as others by the band and Bragg that didn't make the first record.
• January 2001 - Coomer leaves the band not long before cameras begin rolling on Sam Jones' documentary about Yankee Hotel Foxtrot's recording. Glenn Kotche, who had begun working with Tweedy on side projects and live shows, joins.
• June/July 2001 - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is turned in to Reprise Records and initially met with dismay and silence. Management begins a delicate back and forth with the label to extricate the band from its recording contract. The band eventually leaves Reprise with the album, no strings attached, to shop around elsewhere.
• July 4, 2001 – Wilco headlines WXPN’s Fourth of July concert in Chicago's Grant Park; unbeknownst to anyone at the time, this will be Jay Bennett’s last show with the band.
• August 16, 2001 - Jay Bennett leaves Wilco.
• September 10, 2001 - Scott McCaughey visits Chicago and enlists Wilco to back him up
on the latest album by his project The Minus 5. The album, titled Down With Wilco, is
released on Yep Roc Records on February 25, 2003.
• September 18, 2001 - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot begins streaming for free on Wilcoworld.net,
a practice the band also employs on future recordings. Tour plans are made featuring Tweedy, Stirratt, Kotche and Bach, re-configuring the band’s live performance in the wake of Bennett's departure.
• April 23, 2002 - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot arrives in stores via Nonesuch Records. The album goes on to be certified Gold (sales in excess of 500,000) by the RIAA and remains to this day the band’s best-selling album.
• July 26, 2002 – Sam Jones' documentary on the recording of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, entitled I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, opens in select theaters. Also that year, Mikael Jorgensen begins working with the band, first in the capacity of sound mixer, later adding keyboardist to his duties.
• November 2003 - Work begins in New York City on A Ghost Is Born with producer Jim O'Rourke.
• January 28, 2004 - Leroy Bach's departure is announced.
• March 4, 2004 - Pat Sansone and Nels Cline join the band.
• April 2004 – Tweedy enters rehab to treat an addition to painkillers; A Ghost is Born
release is delayed.
• May 19, 2004 - The first live performance with the new lineup (which is now Tweedy,
Stirratt, Kotche, Jorgensen, Cline & Sansone) debuts at Otto's in Dekalb, IL. The lineup
• June 15, 2004 - Greg Kot's bio on the band, Learning How To Die, hits bookstores.
• June 21, 2004 - A Ghost is Born is released. Factoid #2: Alternate title considered: Wilco
• November 2, 2004 - The band releases The Wilco Book, capturing Wilco in pictorial, literary and musical form.
• December 31, 2004 – Wilco headlines Madison Square Garden, sharing a bill with Sleater-Kinney and The Flaming Lips. They close the show, in their pajamas, with a post- midnight covers-set including “Don’t Fear The Reaper.”
• February 13, 2005 – A Ghost is Born wins Best Alternative Music Album at the 47th Annual GRAMMY Awards.
• November 15, 2005 - Kicking Television: Live in Chicago, the band's first live album, is released, featuring tracks recorded over the course of four shows at Chicago’s Vic Theater.
• May 15, 2007 - The first studio album to feature Cline and Sansone, Sky Blue Sky, is released. It debuts at #4 on the Billboard charts and is nominated for a Best Rock Album GRAMMY.
• September 12, 2007 - Wilco performs first ticketed show at the Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago’s Millennium Park. The show is a benefit and raises more than $100,000 for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.
• February 15 – 20, 2008 - The band plays every song from every one of their albums over a five-night residency at the Riviera in Chicago.
• March 1, 2008 – Wilco performs “Walken’” and “Hate It Here” on Saturday Night Live. Ellen Page hosts.
• April 28, 2009 - Wilco: Live - Ashes of American Flags, a concert film from directors Christoph Green and Brendan Canty following the band from Tulsa, OK to Washington D.C. on their 2008 tour, is released on DVD.
• May 2009 - Former Wilco member Jay Bennett passes away at his home in Illinois. A statement from the band remembers Bennett as a "truly unique and gifted human being."
• June 30, 2009 - The band gets meta with the release of Wilco (The Album) and its lead single "Wilco (The Song)." Like Sky Blue Sky, Wilco (The Album) debuts at #4 on the Billboard charts. Wilco receives a GRAMMY nomination for Best Americana Album.
• July 2009 – Jeff Tweedy appears on the cover of SPIN magazine.
• January 29, 2010 – Wilco performs Buffalo Springfield’s “Broken Arrow” at MusiCares
2010 Person of the Year concert honoring Neil Young. SPIN calls the performance
“brilliant,” and one that “revealed a band in complete control of its capabilities.”
• August 13 – 15, 2010 - Wilco kicks off the inaugural Solid Sound Festival at the
Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. The festival features band members' side
projects, as well as other artist-friends like Mavis Staples.
• January 2011 - The band announces the creation of its own label, dBpm Records after
their contract with Nonesuch ends. The label's first release is the Wilco single "I Might"
with a B-side cover of Nick Lowe's "I Love My Label," first released at Solid Sound
Festival. Factoid #3: dBpm had been kicked around as a possible album title for years.
• September 27, 2011 - The Whole Love, the band's debut album for its label dBpm
Records, hits the Billboard charts at #5 and receives a Grammy nomination for Best Rock
• November 23, 2011 – Rolling Stone names Nels Cline one of the 100 Greatest Guitarists
of all time.
• April 21, 2012 - Timed for Record Store Day and to commemorate Woody Guthrie's
100th birthday, Mermaid Avenue: The Complete Sessions, a vinyl box set (which includes the first two volumes, a third collecting unreleased songs, as well as a DVD of the documentary, Man In the Sand) is released. Mermaid Avenue, Vol. 3 is also released digitally.
• July 8, 2012 - Wilco plays largest headlining show (to date), performing to 15k+ fans at Chicagoland's Kane County Cougars 5/3 Bank Ballpark. The show coincides with the breaking of a Midwest heat wave that saw Chicagoans sweltering through multiple days of record-breaking temperatures exceeding 100-degrees.
• June 21, 2013 – Wilco plays an all-request covers set during the opening night of the 2013 Solid Sound Festival. Songs performed include Television’s “Marquee Moon,” Abba’s “Waterloo” and Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky.” Tommy Stintson joins for a cover of The Replacements “Color Me Impressed.”
• June 26, 2013 – Wilco joins Bob Dylan’s AmericanaramA tour. The band welcomes several guests to the stage throughout the tour including Government Mule’s Warren Haynes, Mott the Hoople’s Ian Hunter and The Band’s Garth Hudson.
• November 17, 2014 – Exactly twenty years to the day since Wilco’s first performance (as Black Shampoo) Nonesuch Records releases two Wilco collections: The first, Alpha Mike Foxtrot, a 4-CD, 4-LP/Digital box set amassing rare studio and live recordings from the band's archives, and the second, What's Your 20?, is a 2-CD/Digital compilation of essential tracks culled from the band's previously released studio recordings.
Playing the Palladium in November.
12th Feb 2014Read on Twitter
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22nd Feb 2013Read on Twitter
not sure which one of these monster maze critters is Tweedy...
Hilarious clip of Wilco front man/potential stand-up comedian Jeff Tweedy reading the weather after a performance on Chicago WGN's Morning News show. Harrison Ford, eat your heart out.
29th Oct 2011Read on Twitter
The Roundhouse, London
Wilco albums come and go, but the live act remains strong and steady - well aware which songs have stood the test of time and which have dropped off into back catalogue. New album and show opener "Art of Almost" immediately scored itself a position as today's song of the year, setting the scene for a heavy set that wasn't afraid to bring a couple of extra guitars off the bench when neccessary.
Possibly slightly more truncated in length than previous shows and light on Tweedy-stand-up, it was still plenty for my ageing body support system - and with another show tomorrow probably drawing back many of the beard-heavy crowd no-one is likely to be complaining.
Never, ever disappointing. Set list over at Wilco World.Read more 4.5 star reviews
Royal Festival Hall, London
Despite their repetitive schedule, the band are always in high spirits and tonight's show was littered with theatrics - from comedy introductions and explosive drum sections, to a bizarre, unexplained 80's keyboard cameo, to Jeff Tweedy's comparison between the Festival Hall and Star Wars' Galactic Senate.
The 40s+ post-Yankee Hotel Foxtrot haters were in force at the sit down venue, hanging out for Heavy Metal Drummer or a chance to hug their girlfriends when Jesus Etc was played ... which must put a strain on any band trying to move forward, but they were well satisfied with the YHF-heavy set. Personally, I wanted more from A Ghost Is Born....Read more 4 star reviews
Steve Albini is perhaps one of only a few musicians who could challenge Jeff Tweedy at an open mic night at the Stand Up Comedy Club. Great interview over at VBS.tv showcasing his many unique viewpoints on music and more.
Via Sound Theory
Also, check out two previous Albini classics:
Union Chapel, London
Jeff Tweedy cemented his position at the top of the league this week, with another top-notch performance - this time without the help of backing band Wilco and in the serene setting of Islington's Union Chapel. I've been looking forward to this one since missing his 2005 solo show in favour of seeing an ageing Bob Dylan at Brixton. A shocking mistake that I have regretted since, particularly as Dylan has returned several times since.
With just a guitar and his booming voice, the Wilco front man worked his way through a diverse range of classics from Wilco (Jesus Etc, Via Chicago, Kidsmoke), Uncle Tupelo (New Madrid, Acuff-Rose), Loose Fur (Laminated Cat, The Ruling Class) and a good selection of tracks from the Woody Guthrie albums on which Wilco teamed up with Billy Bragg (Remember The Mountain Bed [awesome], California Stars). He even bowed to "some asshole's" request for a Bob Dylan cover.
There was one exception to the solo status, as Tweedy was joined on stage early on by his 'hero' Bill Fay, with the two singing a charming duet of Be Not So Fearful. The more delicate setting placed a real emphasis on the lyrical quality of many of Tweedy's songs, highlighting his real talent as a talented and prolific songwriter, rather than just the front man of a brilliant rock band.
New tracks also made for some of the highlights (One Wing, Impossible Germany), but the star of the show was Tweedy's charming presence and wit - making the choosing of tracks by the audience like an episode of VH1's Storytellers starring Jack Dee. Brilliant.Read more 5 star reviews
After foolishly missing Jeff Tweedy's last solo appearance in London in favour of a Bob Dylan show (review here), we are at last able to make amends.
Tickets on pre-sale right now for the Wilco main-man's solo show at Islington's Union Chapel on June 30th. See you down the front.
The 00s have certainly been a turbulent decade for the music industry, from the rise and fall of Napster, through the MP3 and iPod revolution and on to the reality TV dominated close of the decade.
Drum and bass infiltrated pop music so throughly that it's now just part of the furniture, while Hip Hop blew up to dominate the US charts, nabbing a guest spot on dozens of chart toppers.
Filtering through the hundreds of albums released in the decade is no mean feat, so we've kept our list strictly democratic, with the top 10 derived from those albums most nominated by our reviewers.
Read a lazy, sprawling list of 82 others that come very highly recommended, here.
And in ascending order, here are the most nominated chimp favourites....
10. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
Beard rock really came back into it's own at the end of the decade, with this debut from the Seattle harmony combo channelling their inner CSNY - while managing to retain some kind of contemporary edge. Bon Iver, Midlake, Grizzly Bear(d) and others supplemented the genre to great effect.
9. Band of Horses - Everything All The Time
Add some heavy rocking to those beards and Band of Horses stepped away from the MMJ-soundalike shadow to really prove themselves with two killer albums. The Funeral probably ranks up their as a song of the decade, while third album Night Rainbows should usher in the '10s nicely.
8. Black Mountain - In The Future
While not sounding that much like their debut, Black Mountain's second album still seemed to sound exactly as hoped for, turned up to 11. By side-stepping the cheesy homage of Wolfmother, the Canadian band delivered a classic rock album that never, ever fails to deliver.
7. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
While it's been a little tarnished by the band's self-conscious later moves, the CYHSY debut was a much needed jolt to the system, reviving Talking Heads and heading out into a twisted genre of it's own. Special nod for track 1 as the most skipped track in iTunes.
6. The Strokes - Is This It?
From dancing like twats in the bedroom to Last Night over and over again, to seeing them four times in a year - it's safe to say that The Strokes' shadow loomed large over the decade. Second album Room On Fire disappointed - and the media frenzy had passed by the time overlooked stellar album First Impressions Of Earth arrived.
5. My Morning Jacket - Z
For a couple of years My Morning Jacket were THE band of the decade. While It Still Moves bridged the gap between the low-key At Dawn and it's polished follow up, Z was where the potential all fell into place. Cutting back on the sprawl and honing the results, every track was a winner - with mind blowing concerts supporting the band until it all went to their heads with Evil Urges. A return to form is demanded.
4. The National - Boxer
Sleeper hit Alligator was a favourite for a long time, until follow up Boxer completely over-shadowed it. Took quite a long time to get into, but once there, it stuck. Slow Show was one of many, many stand-outs.
3. LCD Soundsystem - Sound Of Silver
A perhaps surprising highlight - considering the mere novelty value of Daft Punk Is Playing At My House - Sound of Silver took an unconventional left turn, channelling David Byrne (again), plus a myriad of other styles and influences to form a beautiful whole.
2. Wilco - A Ghost Is Born
Another record relatively over-looked by the critics, with the Yankee Hotel Foxtrot faithful often dissapointed by this way-out follow up, which found Jeff Tweedy enlisting Jim O'Rourke's radical production to pound home the alt-country message with bombastic flair. Any album that starts with a sprawling guitar jam is always going to get chimp votes. Never disappointing.
1. Radiohead - In Rainbows
As the major labels slowly started to embrace the digital model, it took their former golden egg to shake things up again. While the decade opened with the trickling out of the Kid A / Amnesiac double bill, it was the surprise release of the label-free, pay-what-you-like album-with-no-cover In Rainbows that possibly defined music and the music business in the 00s. One day Radiohead haven't been heard from in a while, the next you're listing to the album of the decade over and over again. While other records were good, this one was immediately great - reminding everyone what was so great about Radiohead to begin with, while still forging on with new sounds and new directions. Play it tonight.
Wilco's Jeff Tweedy answers the fans
Jeff Tweedy's birthday
Wilco @ The Troxy, London, August 25th 2009
26th Aug 2009View this picture and comment at Flickr
As with the Shepherd's Bush show in 2007, Wilco's show at London's recently revived Troxy started off fairly sedately, with the band thundering through a few tracks before Tweedy addressed the crowd and the atmosphere began to grow. That atmosphere was cemented by the birthday cake brought on stage for the 42 year old Tweedy and a rendition of Happy Birthday launched into a great version of Hate It Here. With the show now in full-swing, I'm The Man Who Loves You worked the crown into a cheering frenzy.
Guitarist Nels Cline adds a live-wire element to the band, near-permanently twitching on the sidelines, waiting for the opportunity to unleash another blistering solo - a fact not overlooked by Jeff Tweedy who joked that Cline's double headed guitar was a reward for the preceding guitar solo on a magnificent Impossible Germany. Wilco are no one-trick pony though and every member of the band contributes at a notable level, with the band constantly adding new touches and flourishes from songs all through out their back catalogue - such as the gorgeous slide guitar and keyboard on Jesus Etc. An encore of Don't Forget The Flowers was a brief reminder of Wilco's 'alt.country' roots, before the sonic assault of At Least That's What She Said and Kidsmoke brought us more up to date with their later sonic adventures, as well as dropping in a crowd-sourced mini-cover of We Are The Champions (see it on video!). A band with three guitarists capable of virtuoso solos is unlikely to disappoint, as noted by the flamboyant guitar duel between Nels Cline and the admirably capable Pat Sansone.
Wilco may be a bunch of (mostly) middle aged men who make great music, but as a (nearly) middle aged man looking for little more than great music, who's complaining? If you forget the fancy lightshows and expect nothing more than guitars and cowboy shirts you are unlikely to be disappointed by one of their ever-outstanding live shows.
Wilco (The Song)
I Am Trying To Break Your Heart
Company In My Back
Bull Black Nova
You Are My Face
A Shot in the Arm
You Never Know
Can’t Stand It
Hate It Here
I’m The Man Who Loves You
At Least That’s What You Said
Forget the Flowers
Heavy Metal Drummer
I’m A Wheel
More supergroup news. The 7 Worlds Collide project, featuring Neil Finn, Johnny Marr, Jeff Tweedy and some non-Thom Yorke members of Radiohead amongst others have a charity album on the way, and you can listen in now over at Myspace.
Nice cover too.
Latest in Wilco Court House News: former member Jay Bennett is trying to take Jeff Tweedy to the cleaners
The Atlantic Ocean
Firstly, I have to eat a little humble pie, for the lukewarm review of Richard Swift’s last album ‘Dressed Up For The Letdown’, which turned out to be something of a grower, sounding better and better with repeated plays.
After the unpolished garage rock of last years excellent ‘Richard Swift as Onasis’ comes his next album proper ‘The Atlantic Ocean’. Swift describes the sound as ‘Prince sitting in on John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band’ and is actually a pretty good analogy of what’s going on here, especially on the title track and ‘The Original Thought.'
However Swift is far from a one trick pony and mixes up his influences nicely; the catchy ‘The First Time’ has a touch of the Wilco about it (Swift recorded the album in their loft after meeting Jeff Tweedy on Later With Jools Holland), where as the excellent ‘Bat Coma Motown’ is pure Harry Nilsson.
A slight disappointment is that many of the best songs here already appeared on last years ‘Ground Trouble Jaw’ EP. ‘A Song For Milton Feher’ manages to be insanely catchy after only couple of bars and the closing ‘Lady Luck’, points to where Swift might be going next. With simple and soulful motown style backing, Swift demonstrate a whole other unexplored side to his vocal range.
‘The Atlantic Ocean’ is utterly listenable and cements Swift as a talent to watch, it will be interesting to see where he goes now.Read more 3.5 star reviews
New data coming in from Wilco World:
"The forthcoming and still-untitled next Wilco album is nearing completion. Jim Scott and the band spent the last few weeks mixing in Jim's studio in Valencia, California and here's a list of song titles spied on the reels -- note this is not necessarily complete and not in sequence.
Conscript (aka I'll Fight)
Wilco (the song)
Bull Black Nova
You and I
Rumors and blogs regarding a guest appearance on that last track are, amazingly, quite true. Feist does indeed lend a great vocal to You and I. Other details will emerge in the coming weeks. The release is currently scheduled for late June on Nonesuch."
Plus, an amusing video of Jeff Tweedy on The Colbert Report:
Stephen Colbert interviews Wilco's "lousy capitalist" Jeff Tweedy
Ground Trouble Jaw
Since the fairly tepid review we gave Richard Swift's breakout album Dressed Up For The Let Down in 2007, he's proved to be a grower and surpassed all expectations with a barrage of mid-season releases - from the electronica of Music From the Films of R/Swift (released under the name Instruments Of Science And Technology), to the low-key Richard Swift As Onassis, to this free EP - available from Myspace and eMusic amongst others.
This release is closer in style to his 2007 LP than any of the other releases, taking in as many styles as a Ween record, while somehow maintaining Swift's own identity (a telent Ween often seem to lack). The sarcastic taunts of The Bully make for an amusing listen, literally kicking off like one of The Pharoahs from American Graffiti, the song takes a swinging 50's vibe and overlays the sarcastic jaunts of local tough guy. "Huh. Nice ending, jackass".
60's Motown is the touch stone of choice on Lady Luck, as Swift again applies his modern touch to a classic sound. The comedy keyboards on The Original Thought and A Song For Milton Feher manage not to disrupt things, highlighting Swift's love of Lennon-era Harry Nilsson,before it's back to a rolling 50's vibe for highlight Would You.
A hook up with Jeff Tweedy (witnessed in person by our man BC) has led to Swift recording his next 'proper' album at Wilco's loft studio in Chicago - and if this EP is the kind of stuff the guy is capable of 'between' albums, I'll be paying far more attention next time.Read more 3.5 star reviews
With Sky Blue Sky still maturing into awesomeness, Jeff Tweedy and the band are already lining up their follow up record, with Billboard reporting an 'early spring' timetable. Songs from the Sky Blue Sky writing sessions may make up some of the album, but we'll hopefully see a few more sonic effects a la A Ghost Is Born, as the band intend to "allow ourselves a little bit more leeway in terms of sculpting the sound in the studio and doing overdubs and using the studio as another instrument. Last time around, it was more of a document."
Wilco's Jeff Tweedy is among the artists contibuting to the soundtrack for the upcoming Dylan biopic I'm Not There. Check out the Myspace page for his cover of Simple Twist Of Fate and a couple of others.
Eddie Vedder, Yo La Tengo, Black Keys, Jim James with Calexico (!), Stephen Malkmus and a host of other chimp favourites have also contributed. New trailer up too. Early word from operatives suggest it's more a good idea well executed than a great film - and that Cate Blanchett is the best Dylan.
But, as if that isn't enough, check out the line-up of collaborators on board for the live 'tribute' show.
just a little post-script to the vw nightdrive below - Wilco are letting VW use The Thanks I Get" (a bonus track from Sky Blue Sky sessions, available for download via the Enhanced CD and iTunes) and You Are My Face in some other ads. finally answering the big question: "what does Tweedy drive?"
Links to their Later? With Jools Holland appearance below as well, in case you didn't get to go the taping w BC
To top off my week of Wilco I watched the DVD Shake It Off that comes with the special edition of Sky Blue Sky. It gives a valuable insight into Tweedy's thinking behind the album explaining how, in this complicated world, he didn't want to give people more puzzles just good songs to listen to. Bonus material that's actually worth the extra ?4.
Don't forget to check them out on Jools Holland tonight.
I had the pleasure of sitting in on the filming of Later...With Jools Holland last night. A mouthwatering lineup that included Bloc Party, LCD Soundsystem, Joan Armatrading and the mighty Wilco. Wilco's You Are My Face was fantastic, Bloc Party were so-so, but LCD Soundsystem were awesome. Playing 2 songs from their great new album - including the amazing All My Friends - these guys came out loud, strong and bursting with energy. A quick song by new boy Richard Swift was also good and very much enjoyed by Mr Tweedy by the looks of things.
Check it out on BBC 2 this Friday. The Who and White Stripes are up next week.
Shepherd's Bush Empire, LondonFor a while now Wilco have been the final frontier when it comes to live music. In the last few years many of the greats have been ticked off my list and tonight the final pillar was going to fall. Wilco certainly didn't disappoint. You could divide this gig into two distinct sections - before Jeff Tweedy addressed the crowd and after. Ploughing through 3 choice cuts from the new album and some Wilco classics including I Am Trying To Break Your Heart it seemed Tweedy was here to do a professional job and get the hell out of there. Then the surprisingly charismatic frontman decided to include us in their fun and the whole night took off. And after that it went pretty much as I'd expected, which is good - as I expected nothing short of greatness.
Wilco have never been the kind of band to come out punching with soaring anthems or fancy pyrotechnics so it wasn't until mid-way through that their brilliance fully seeps in and you stand there totally porous to their genius. That's when songs like At Least That's What You Said, Hummingbird and A Shot In The Arm envelop you in their warmth and you are forever changed. Glen Kotche's drumming was, as expected, the back bone to this stunning performance, and new signing Nels Kline frequently took new tracks like Impossible Germany and the beautiful You Are My Face to dazzling heights as he frantically throttled the neck of his guitar. But it was the awesome rendition of the epic Spiders (Kidsmoke) that totally stole the show and took it stellar. I have always considered A Ghost Is Born to be Wilco's finest and this reinforced my opinion. During the 10 minute marathon of climbing guitars, heavy drumming and swirling sound effects this band became something else. This song alone puts them in their own category and though Sky Blue Sky sees them opting for time out of this category for a while their place will always be guaranteed. It was a pleasure to be in the company of this band and its music.
BC - 4 Stars
As a powerhouse band Wilco seem to be getting better and better, with some great contributions from the new boys coming up through the ranks, and notably the Clapton-suited summer signing Nels Cline up front proving some major firepower. Jeff Tweedy holds his own in a guitar duel however, of which there were plenty - mostly more full on and rocking than I could have ever anticipated.
In a live setting the quiet/loud formula of many of the tracks was more apparent - even on many pre A Ghost Is Born numbers, and certainly on beefed up renditions of some of the Sky Blue Sky highlights, such as Side With The Seeds. Many of the more low-key songs like Poor Places and Via Chicago were given a fleshed out majesty by the full band that made them sound better than ever with the finer details or the effects, keyboards and backing vocals more richly presented. Surprisingly the big stand out for me was Woody Guthries Airline to Heaven, which found the band firing on all 6 cylinders to magical effect.... and there was even room for an extra Nels Cline solo.
After the crowd got into the swing of it, Tweedy lightened up and things really picked up getting better and better. This is a man I never thought I would see doing the running man, but there you go. With two extended encores it seemed like we were in Wilco heaven, and with the introduction of Bill Fay for a rendition of his Be Not So Fearful we were provided with a touching tribute to some of the bands roots and influences. Fantastic.
CSF - 4.5 Stars
just to add to the dedicated tweedy-watchers above. for some reason i had them filed in the wrong side side of my alt country factfile for years, have to say i'm glad we've put in the conversion hours at chimp towers to get me up to speed. have only really got round to absorbing the last two albums, but enjoyed everything they played. totally concur on Spiders (Kidsmoke) being the stand-out moment - love those loooong jams where everything cruises and then explodes. Impossible Germany had a great solo to finish it off, loved the freak-out stuff on Via Chicago and that last Bill Fay track was a very sweet closer. never really noticed the beatles influence on the wilco sound before, suddenly felt like i was watching a kind of US indie version of Wings (a good thing in my book). great playing from the whole band, and good to hear a band rocking out without just turning up the amps to 11.
brought 3 other newbies w me; all walked out converts which leads me to award a pretty conclusive...
4 Stars - c71Read more 4.5 star reviews
Sky Blue Sky
As I have previous professed, for me Wilco are one of the best bands operating at the moment. Since I first got hold of their Mermaid Avenue collaboration with Billy Bragg, I tracked back and forth through their output, sucking it all up until I had it all. As a relatively late adopter, I had less of the undying love for the "alt.country" end of things, and for me A Ghost Of Born was the ultimate conclusion of where a band like this was going, leaving me to wonder where they would be heading next.
While Kidsmoke, Hell Is Chrome and the other big show-off tracks on A Ghost Of Born steal the show, they also tend to over-shadow some superb numbers that pop up later in the album, such as Theologians, Late Greats or Company In My Back. With sixth studio album Sky Blue Sky things are on a much more even keel, making for a more subtle record that is beautifully crafted and full of hidden treasure.
Forget the Fleetwood Mac comparisons you might have heard, The Band are your homework reference for this album, with superb musicianship pulling from all sides to make an apparently simple track like You Are My Face into a musical masterpiece - winding up from ballad to multi-part guitar duel, or to transform the opener Either Way from a sunny-weather ditty to an all-out majestic finale, complete with a string section. Great talent brings great responsibility however, and unfortunately the album suffers from some of the same pitfalls as The Band's work from Stage Fright onwards - with the undoubtedly excellent musicianship sometimes falling short of the emotion needed for it to engage the listener as A Ghost Is Born did - which I suspect may be down to a Iack of trouble in Wilcoworld at the moment. If only Tweedy could get back on the painkillers.
But fear not, Wilco are still a long way from a Steely Dan's sometimes unapproachable studio tan style. The glib opening line of Impossible Germany ("...unlikely Japan") is quickly forgiven as it morphs off into a six minute guitar monster. And if you do find yourself waiting for that trademark emotional crack in Tweedy's vocals, don't worry - that comes soon enough on title track Sky Blue Sky: "It's good enough for now..."
Man of the match definitely goes to new signing Nels Cllne, who takes the guitar standards of Wilco's previous records to epic new heights. As a former free-wheeling jazz guitarist he has added guitar to projects by Mike Watt, Stephen Perkins' Banyan, Thurston Moore and others - as well as releasing some notable, if meandering solo work (I've seen him live, and had the sore improv jazz buttocks to prove it). Kept on a tight leash by Tweedy's songwriting, which often reins him in, Nels Cline excels - adding a multitude of guitar highlights, from the crisp Stevie Ray Vaughn-esqe solo that rounds off opener Either Way, to the pyrotechnics that take Side With The Seeds from it's deceptively soulful opening to it's barnstorming finale.
Sure, there are a couple of more forgettable tracks, but the power hidden behind the laid back effortlessness of this album will be fully revealed live and I have no doubt that it is only going to get better and better. I'd even go so far as to wager that after seeing this record played live, the track about Jeff cleaning the house (Hate It Here) may be a late favourite. We'll see.
The bottom line is that this is a top-flight band working at the top of their game. On the surface it may seem to have the stumbling style of fan favourite Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, but when listened to next that album it is a far more complex affair. While it might not have the more overt scene-stealing sonic theatrics of the Jim O'Rourke influenced A Ghost Is Born, beneath the surface there are more than a few nods in that direction - notably on the fantastic closing track On And On And On, where the guitar is pipped to the post at the final hurdle by Mikael Jorgensen's keyboards. His Garth Hudson-style Hammond organ adds a steady stream of quality input throughout the album, but on On And On And On it is thrust into the limelight and carries the album home, bringing it back from a minor lull to finish magnificently.
This is a superbly rich record, taking the huge range of previous Wilco output and creaming off the best of all their albums and shaping it into a rich and polished career overview. There is a fluidity, solidity and cohesiveness here that make it an accomplished delight.
At this weeks Nashiville show Jeff Tweedy announced that the new Wilco album is called Sky Blue Sky and will be out on Nonesuch on May 15th.
You can hear new song The Thanks I Get on their MySpace page, and see a video of the track live at Wilco World.
No, not literally. But any of you living South of the Pyrenees might be interested in catching a live solo Jeff Tweedy show in December. Madrid and Bareclona are the locations, with a Dublin show coming first on November 29th.
Wilco have issued an apology on their site for the fact that Jeff Tweedy punched a stage invader in the face at their recent Springfield show. Sounds like fair game to me.
...during the first encore a young man jumped onto the stage and did the requisite salute to his pals. While we certainly do not encourage that kind of behavior, we were prepared to let it go, as he was, it seemed, heading back into the crowd. Just when it appeared he was walking off the stage he turned around and moved towards Tweedy from behind. Jeff did not see him approaching, but felt the guy's hands on his head. To this, Jeff reacted. As Jeff put it... "I really regret what happened last night. I wish it had gone another way... and i suspect had i felt safer on that stage, had security been doing a better job all night long, well things would have gone differently. He approached me from behind... and I reacted in defense to get him away. I didn't know what his intentions were... and I had to get him off of me. I'm sad that it happened at all."
Not sure if this is related to the new dvd, but C4 are showing JEFF TWEEDY: LIVE IN CONCERT in the prime time 4MUSIC slot of 1:15am, Sat 23 Sep
Our favourite wandering front man Jeff Tweedy has found time to squeeze in one-more side project before really knuckling down to give us what we really want - a new Wilco album.
"Nonesuch Records will release Sunken Treasure: Live in the Pacific Northwest, a performance DVD by Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, on October 24. The disc includes performances and conversations gathered over five nights on Tweedy's February 2006 solo acoustic tour, with footage from concerts at Seattle's Moore Theater, Portland's Crystal Ballroom, Eugene's McDonald Theater, Arcata's Humboldt State University, and The Fillmore in San Francisco. The film was directed by Christoph Green and Fugazi's Brendan Canty, the creators of the documentary series Burn to Shine."
Another Fine Day
The title to this record sums it up perfectly. The operative word being 'Fine.' It describes a state that is neither really bad nor really good. And it's 'Another' fine day, which hints at a monotonous state of fineness that goes on and on in a Groundhog Day fashion, never improving or getting worse. It's the kind of state where life just passes you by and you don't notice it. This is just what tends to happen to this record. It is yet another under-par offering from the apparent "Super Group" consisting of members of Soul Asylum, The Replacements, The Jayhawks and Wilco. Wilco's Jeff Tweedy's stocks have risen sharply in recent times and as a result his input here is minimal. When he does grace us with his presence he gives us the 2 best songs on the album, Long Time Ago and Listen Joe are classic Tweedy but they only serve to highlight the blandness of the rest of the songs.
When playing Another Fine Day in my car I had to turn it down so people didn't think I was listening to Crowded House. That's not a good sign.
Born Again In The USA
As one gets older we notice things about our personalities that we either like or dislike and as much as we tried to fight them when we were younger we soon give up and learn to accept them. We even start to warm to some traits and see them as important threads in the marvellous tapestry that is us, despite the fact that they annoy the hell out of people around us and sometimes land us in jail. Recently I have discovered one of these facts about my personality and in the words of the Dude Some new shit has come to light. I have discovered that I have the worrying ability to become so totally obsessed and consumed by something that all logic and sense leave me when it enters my thought. About a month ago the subject of my obsessions became anything Wilco/Tweedy. It seems like we have waited far too long for new Wilco material and I just couldnt take it. So I would spend hours, days combing the internet for anything Jeff Tweedy had ever put his hand to, any collaboration, any live morsel even if it was recorded from the toilets.
So you can imagine my delight when Loose Furs second album landed. Finally something legitimate and legal to quench my insatiable thirst. Like any addiction quality rarely comes into it, so it took me a while to ask myself if this album was any good. And it is, though not reaching the dizzy heights of pure genius that Wilco reside in. It goes without saying that my favourite moments are when Jeff is on point but on the whole this is a solid piece of work with just the right mix of straight up rock, melody subtlety and experimentation. It seems like less of a side project for the boys ( Jeff Tweedy, Jim ORourke and Glenn Kotche) and yet still manages to sound like three musicians enjoying a day off. This is seen quite clearly in The Ruling Class, a jaunty little number about Jesus shooting crack. Further on theres a great instrumental song An Ecumenical Matter which really shows off the compositional skill of this dream team. And the album finishes with 2 songs worthy of any Wilco B side. Wreckroom with its fantastic guitar solos reminiscent of the jaw dropping opener on Wilcos A Ghost Is Born and the slightly Sesame Street sounding finale of Wanted.
This album will certainly keep me satisfied until the next Wilco offering and maybe if I stay away from him long enough Jeff and his layers might just lift this damn restraining order.
Home: Volume IV
The teaming up of various artistic greats is not always a recipe for success, as Real Madrid found in this seasons Champions League and James Lavelle and DJ Shadow found on Psyence Fiction. But on this 4 song EP from Spoon frontman Britt Daniel and Bright Eyes the collaboration works to great effect. They complement each other very well. Oberst lends his trademark intensity and passion to the mix and although I am a huge fan of anything by Bright Eyes, Daniel manages to amp up what can sometimes be quite a whimpering and whining sound with some bass heavy Spoon magic. As a result the Britt tracks are the stand out moments with You Get Yours being better than most Spoon songs. This sounds all the better with Conors backing vocals being shrieked from the back of the recording studio. A great piece of work that more than moistens the appetite for future collaborations. If only they could find room for Jeff Tweedy.Read more 3 star reviews
A Ghost Is Born
The other day during a particularly busy period at work I embarked on a best of Wilco playlist and found that every track bar one off their most recent offering had to feature. Except for the 15 minutes of amp hummmmm on track 11 this is a perfect album. The reader may have just taken a sharp intake of breath at that controversial word perfect that I just threw in there but I dont care, I stand by that word.
When I first encountered Wilco they were way out in front on the ever-expanding alt-country scene and were making simple yet great songs. This style seemed to be changing with the release of 2002s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and now with A Ghost Is Born Jeff Tweedy has taken his band into the realms of experimental rock genius. Largely due to the production, courtesy of the mighty Jim ORourke, this record sees Wilco turn a very important and difficult corner. From the outset you can see that the agenda has changed here. At Least Thats What You Said is one of the greatest and bravest ways to open an album, its soft bitter-sweet vocal intro turns in to 4 minute crunching guitar solo that leaves you breathless and exhausted and the album has only just begun. And if, during Hell Is Chrome, you found yourself relaxing into comfortable Wilco territory Spiders(Kidsmoke) soon jolts you to your feet throwing the alt-country rule book so far out the window you wonder if they ever read it, let alone wrote it. Clocking in at over 10 minutes and with a fantastic electronic beat for a backbone this song sounds more like early Roxy Music than our beloved Wilco with its occasional vocals and screeching, stabbing and totally freeform guitar solos. Then youve got Muzzle of Bees, Hummingbird, Handshake Drugs, the list goes on and on and the standard set in the first track is upheld right up to the very last note.
This is the album that convinced me to call my first born child Wilco, boy or girl. Im just glad Im not obsessed with Pink Martini.