Video: Wilco -- “Before Us”
Directed by Zoran Orlic. From Ode to Joy, out now on dBpm.
I saw Wilco in concert a few weeks ago and they still put on a great show. I am a solid member of the old school Wilco fan camp who believes they made their best stuff in their first ten years of existence, but I’m not such a hater as to dismiss everything they’ve done since Jay Bennett was given the boot.
I’ll admit that the last album I really loved all the way through was Wilco (The Album), but that was also--perhaps not coincidentally--the last Wilco album I purchased in a physical format. I can accept the possibility that I just haven’t dedicated the time to fully appreciate the four studio albums they released since then.
My overall impression of their recent releases is that they each have a few songs I like, a few songs I don’t, and a bunch of songs I immediately forget. That’s not so bad. They’ve been doing this a long time. What do you expect?
“Before Us” falls into the latter category. It’s pretty but boring. Pleasant but…is that it?
While I realize it would be cost prohibitive for a band that pays for and releases its own recordings, at this point in their lifespan it might be interesting for them to get out of the Loft, where they’ve recorded everything since 2007’s Sky Blue Sky, and work with an outside producer. For all the current lineup’s artrock bonafides, when’s the last time they did anything that surprised you? I’m sure the Loft is super comfortable, but maybe Tweedy needs somebody to kick his ass a little. Shake things up.
Or maybe not. I’m happy they continue to tour and release new music, and if they’ve found the formula that allows them to do this ad infinitum then good for them. Nothing they’ve released this decade is going to make my desert island list, but guess what: I’m not moving to a desert island anytime soon.
Streaming has rendered minimalism and careful curation obsolete. There was a time when people would sell back used CDs that they didn’t think they needed anymore, so that they could afford to buy new stuff. You didn’t want embarrassing shit clogging up your shelves, bringing down the legitimacy of your collection. There’s no need for that anymore.
Keep releasing music and I’ll keep listening. At least a few times before I go back to Being There.