Tag Archives: Wilco

What Do They Know?

One of the things that often happens when a performer—be it an actor or a musician—makes a political point is that there is a degree of dismissiveness among some—even among that person’s fans—, a reaction that has it, in effect, “Oh, she’s just an actress, what does she know?” (Or, as our President put it about Meryl Streep, “one of the most-overrated actresses.”)

We can allow these people to move us in their performances, but somehow that has nothing to do with their intelligence or capability or thoughtfulness. They are “just” playing or singing or acting. What do they know?

Of course, when it comes to the campaigning part of politics, it is all good to have the actors and musicians to come on stage with the candidates to lend support, be they Gary Busey or George Clooney, Wayne Newton or Bruce Springsteen. (Yes, I’ve made loaded choices of supporters of the candidates in the last presidential, but they are no less true.)

When Madonna says “Yes, I have thought an awful lot of blowing up the White House, but I know that this won’t change anything,” you’d think that the 58-year-old performer was going to be in charge of life-altering policies for literally hundreds of millions of people; when a presidential candidate says in a speech of his opponent, “If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is. I don’t know,” it gets pretty much treated as though, “Oh, it’s just him being him.”

Actors or musicians, the thinking seems to be, really don’t know more than their crafts. Lawyers and real estate developers—they know lots about everything.

Don’t they?

Continue reading What Do They Know?

Free Download of New Wilco Song Available

Celebrating one year since the surprise release of their last album, Star Wars, Wilco has posted a new song free for the taking—just give ‘em an email.

Wilco – Locator

If you like the somewhat stutter rhythm and cryptic lyrics of the band’s recent work then you’ll dig this song plenty.

Remember these guys?

Wilco’s Tiny Desk Concert is the Album We Need Right Now

I’ve recently taken to posting confessions on Facebook. Nothing too salacious or embarrassing, just acknowledgements that may be unexpected to my legion of followers. Things like my arbitrary cap on concerts: $50 ticket, no venues larger than 1500. The reasoning behind this cap is a topic for another post, but I’d like to use this opportunity to make another confession:

I’m bored with Wilco.

Given my own personal history with the band and GLONO’s long trail of coverage, this is not easy for me to write. And I want to be clear that I am very happy the band is as successful as they are now—and that’s not some lame qualifier before I launch into a scathing criticism (which I won’t). I really am quite happy that a band from Chicago, who I’ve followed from its earliest days, and who represents everything great in independent music, is successful. We don’t have enough of those success stories. And I love several songs on every album they’ve put out.

But I haven’t loved a whole album since Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

I think about this a lot and while there are a number of factors, it basically boils down to two things:

  1. I want more songs from Jeff Tweedy—not soundscapes or word play, I want songs. I want structure and melodies and harmonies and stories. The bits I have liked from recent albums all fit this mold.
  2. Simple production. A couple mics, acoustic instruments and capable hands behind the desk. Put a guy like David Rawlings, T-Bone Burnett or even Jack White in the producer role and I’m in.

This isn’t a pipe dream; this could happen. John Mellencamp did it on No Better Than This using a 1955 Ampex portable recording machine and only one microphone. Hell, Uncle Tupelo did something similar on March 17 -20, 1992. And more recently, Wilco recorded an NPR Tiny Desk concert that sounds exactly what I am talking about.

I know I sound like the old man yelling about how great the old days were on this, but I only do it because I care. So please, Wilco: won’t you do an old fan a solid and sit down in front of a couple mics and just play some songs? I promise to shut up for a couple years.

Did you know Wilco used to be called National Dust?

Look what I stumbled across in the May 7, 1994 issue of Billboard. It’s a blurb about the break up of Uncle Tupelo who had played their final show just a few days earlier on May 1.

Billboard May 7 94 Tweedy Coomer National Dust

“Say Uncle: Uncle Tupelo is dissolving, with core member Jeff Tweedy and drummer Ken Coomer forming a new group called National Dust. Tupelo’s other main member, Jay Farrar, is forming his own band. Both new acts have deals with Sire.”

By the time the Red Hot + Country compilation was released in September, which contained Tweedy’s new band’s cover of “The T.B. is Whipping Me,” they had settled on Wilco. Greg Kot quotes Coomer on why the band ditched the National Dust moniker: “The womenfolk weren’t havin’ it.”

Of course, a good name can’t remain unused for long, and by 2005 a Los Angeles cockrock band had taken it on. The fact that this new National Dust sounds like post-makeup KISS and employs Confederate flag imagery is a bummer, but what can you do?

Our Missing Jay Bennett Interview Is Back

A little housekeeping, folks. When we converted from MovableType to WordPress, it seems we lost some of our early, featured content. We didn’t really “lose” it but we definitely orphaned it. If readers and search engines can’t find it, it’s lost for all intents and purposes.

A reader contacted us last night to point out that they could no longer find our 2002 interview we did with Jay Bennett and the track-by-track listing of his contributions to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. These were major scoops in the early days of GLONO at a time when Wilco and their lackeys were downplaying Bennett’s role in the creation of their masterpiece.

It’s shameful that we let these piece slip through the cracks of a redesign. So now they’re back.

And we still miss Jay Bennett.

New Wilco video starring Popeye

Video: Wilco – “Dawned On Me”

I usually hate animated videos but this one was pretty fun. It’s apparently “the first hand-drawn Popeye cartoon in more than 30 years.” Which is odd, because who knew that there have been any Popeye cartoons made in the past 30 years?

Even if you’re not impressed by the primitive animation and silly storyline (Olive Oyl picks Tweedy over Popeye and Bluto? Come on!), “Dawned On Me” is one of the highlights of Wilco’s The Whole Love. Sonically similar to “Kamera” off Yankee Hotel Foxtrot with an added layer of Nels Cline dental drill guitar, it’s one of the sweetest love songs Tweedy’s written in years. “I can’t help it if I fall in / love with you again, I’m calling / just to let you know / it dawned on me.”

Dads across America will be putting this on mixes for our wives.

More info: wilcospinach.com (for real)

Wilco – The Whole Love

I like a little weirdness in my pop music; always have. I like a strange twist of phrase or an unexpected turn in song structure. But what I really like is music that does that while retaining the essence of pop music, which boils down to me being able to hum it while waiting out the more banal events in life. I want the melodies to remain. Wilco’s new album finally gives me what I want.

Continue reading Wilco – The Whole Love

Ex-M’s Members Launch New Label, Band: Walter & Wendell

Walter & Wendell The M’s were a great band in the classic Chicago sense: they had catchy tunes, great live shows and association with the leaders of the scene: Wilco. Drummer Steve Versaw is Production Manager and Monitor Engineer for Tweedy and Co. and has parlayed that into scoring studio time in the famed Wilco Loft to record a new project with fellow M’s member Joey King. The result is Adjusted Automatically, a tasty new album that incorporates catchy acoustic pop with clever horn arrangements and electronic bleeps and bloops. Don’t worry, it’s not another precious chamber pop group, it’s just honest songs with pretty arrangements.

Walter & Wendell is the first release on the newly launched Movings, Versaw’s all-digital new label. The label plans to release another project by Dick Prall at the end of the month.

Album stream and more details after the jump…

Continue reading Ex-M’s Members Launch New Label, Band: Walter & Wendell

Autumn Defense – Back of My Mind

MP3: Autumn Defense – “Back of My Mind” from Once Around, due November 2 on Yep Roc.

Autumn Defense is the puss-pop (“70s AM gold”) side project of Wilco’s John Stirratt and Pat Sansone, and this is their fourth album. You know what you’re getting yourself into when the press release calls it “the thinking man’s easy listening.” The craziest thing about this band is that they tackle the genre without irony. It’s like a summer breeze…blowing through the jasmine in your mind…

Autumn Defense: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, eMusic, wiki

Continue reading Autumn Defense – Back of My Mind

Mavis Staples, Jeff Tweedy on Letterman

Great clip from Late Night with David Letterman. Two things of particular interest: 1) Jeff Tweedy takes lead on a verse; 2) Letterman is utterly gushing at the end.

Via Consequence of Sound

Mavis Staples: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki

Wilco: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki