Tag Archives: dBpm

New Wilco: Meant To Be

Video: Wilco – “Meant To Be”

Directed by Joey Garfield. From Cousin, out now on dBpm.

Growing up in the suburbs of Grand Rapids, Michigan I spent a lot of time in skating rinks. In the summer, my local rink Wheel-A-While would host all kinds of specials. We did everything from temperature night (the price was whatever the mercury hit for a high that day), to flashlight night (exactly what you think), to all-night lock-ins where you would skate until you dropped and then looked for the least disgusting piece of carpet to catch a few winks. It was pre-teen suburban boot camp and suffice it to say, I developed some skills.

Years passed and we all grow up. I eventually moved to Chicago, having long packed my skates away in mothballs. But then it happened: A friend had her birthday party at the now dearly departed Rainbo Roller Rink on Clark. I was in my early 30s by this point but giddy to dazzle my friends with my dormant, but still very much present skating skills. And dazzle, I did. It was a glorious night where I glided and swayed to the beat of the music, pulling off a spin here and there for dramatic effect. It was a night dreams are made of.

For their latest single, “Meant to Be,” Chicago’s own Wilco set up camp in the middle of a rink where they are encircled by skaters with greater skills and silkier fluidity than I ever honed on Plainfield Avenue. And while “Meant to Be” is catchy in that old familiar Wilco way, the real show-stoppers are the rollers in the video. May they forever run or at  least wheel-a-while longer.

New Wilco: Cousin

Video: Wilco – “Cousin”

From Cousin, out September 29 on dBpm.

A press release claims this song “is, musically and lyrically, a fight with a relative. Rather, a refusal to fight: the narrator holds their familial opponent in a de-escalatory bear hug, while admitting, ‘My cousin / I’m you.'”

Are you getting any of that from the lyrics? Or from the music for that matter? Because I’m not hearing it. But that’s fine. It sounds cool.

I like that they’re working with an outside producer (Cate Le Bon) for this album, bringing some new sounds and ideas into the mix. You can tell it was still recorded at the Loft though, especially the vocals. Le Bon must not have been able to convince Tweedy to use a different microphone or whatever. They know what they like and it works but it would be fun to hear what might happen if Wilco re-worked their sound even more. Maybe next time!

New Wilco: Evicted

Video: Wilco – “Evicted”

From Cousin, out September 29 on dBpm.

New Wilco! And a new producer, Cate Le Bon! Still recorded at the Loft, but it’s good to see Tweedy and co. at least taking babysteps out of their comfort zone. You may have read that this is the first time Wilco has used an outside producer “since Sky Blue Sky” (2007) — that’s wrong. Sky Blue Sky was produced by Wilco. The last album that was produced by anybody other than Wilco was A Ghost Is Born (2004), produced by “Wilco and Jim O’Rourke.”

Actually, now that I’m looking through the liner notes, I see that since then Wilco (The Album) (2009) was produced by “Wilco and Jim Scott,” The Whole Love (2011) was produced by “Jeff Tweedy with Pat Sansone and Tom Schick,” and pretty much everything since then has been produced by “Jeff Tweedy and Tom Schick.” So who knows? I suppose Tom Schick, as the house engineer at the Loft, is justifiably considered an insider. Whatever….Cate Le Bon! That’s news!

This bit from the press release amuses me: “After a short detour back into their country-influenced roots via last year’s Cruel Country double album, Cousin sees Wilco back in their more familiar progressive and experimental rock territory.”

“Evicted” sounds about as “progressive and experimental” as “Many Worlds” sounded country. Next phase, new wave, dance craze, anyways it still sounds like Wilco to me.

Tweedy says “Evicted” is loosely “from the point of view of someone struggling to make an argument for themself in the face of overwhelming evidence that they deserve to be locked out of someone’s heart. Self-inflicted wounds still hurt, and in my experience, they’re almost impossible to fully recover from.”

New Wilco video: Tired of Taking It Out On You

Video: Wilco – “Tired of Taking It Out On You”

From Cruel Country, out May 27 on dBpm.

Again, not country. But that’s okay. It’s another well-crafted Wilco song.

I crave crazy times again
Our nights, our nights
Would never end.

I appreciate skronk and noize as much as the next guy, I suppose, but my favorite Wilco has always been the pretty stuff. I like to see what a band can do within the confines of a traditional pop song structure. Every once in a while a band can do something interesting with a 12-minute jam or an extended freakout — “Cowgirl in the Sand” and “Sister Ray” come to mind — but most of the time it just comes off as wanky or lazy. I prefer songwriters to get to the point. Work harder on your craft and refine it into something good. Edit.

I get that bands like to “stretch out” or whatever and that’s fine. Do what you like. But I’m happy that Wilco is promising to release a whole (double!) album full of what appears to be acoustic pop songs. That’s my jam. If this is what Tweedy thinks of as “country” that’s fine. Tomato, tomahto.

New Wilco video: Falling Apart (Right Now)

Video: Wilco – “Falling Apart (Right Now)”

From Cruel Country, out May 27 on dBpm.

Hot damn! I’ve barely processed the news that Wilco is going to release a super deluxe 20th anniversary edition of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot featuring 82 unreleased tracks when they come out and announce a brand new album. And not just any album, but a double album featuring an “exploration of the genre they’ve often been defined by but, until now, never fully embraced.” I.e., country.

Other than the lead guitar tone, this new song doesn’t really sound particularly country. But still! If Tweedy’s idea of country is tightly structured songwriting, conversational lyrics, groovy harmonies, and twangy guitars, that’s good enough for me! Yee-ha!

New Jeff Tweedy: Gwendolyn

Video: Jeff Tweedy – “Gwendolyn”

Directed by James Fleischel. From Love Is The King, out October 23 on dBpm. Vinyl/CD due January 15.

Featuring the mouths and noses of Fred Armisen, Courtney Barnett, Elvis Costello, Jeff Garlin, Tavi Gevinson, Jon Hamm, Robyn Hitchcock, John Hodgman, Yuka C Honda, Abbi Jacobson, Norah Jones, Gaelynn Lea, Scott McCaughey, Seth Meyers, Nnamdï, Nick Offerman, Molly Sarlé, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig, Jay Som, Alex Winter, Sammy Tweedy, Spencer Tweedy and Jeff Tweedy.

Who knows what’s going on underneath those masks? There could be some very attractive people hidden under there. Or maybe not.

If this new video proves anything, it’s that one’s nose and mouth drastically affect your appearance. It also proves that Tweedy knows a lot of famous people!

Continue reading New Jeff Tweedy: Gwendolyn

New Wilco video: Before Us

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.

Wilco: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Wilco video: Everyone Hides

Video: Wilco – “Everyone Hides”

Directed by Jamie Fleischel. From Ode to Joy, due October 4, 2019 via dBpm.

Boy, as if I needed another reminder how much I miss living in Chicago…

In Wilco’s new video the band runs around town visiting all the best spots including Laurie’s Planet of Sound, the Music Box, and Wrigley Field. There are several Wilco easter eggs like Pat Sansone catching a matinee of the Peter Sellers film “Being There” and Glenn Kotche sneaking around Marina City.

The song is good too. Similar in spirit to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot‘s “Kamera,” it even echoes the themes of that song (“Which lies I have been hiding” vs. “If you’re selling yourself on a tale…”)

But I don’t know about Tweedy’s whispery vocals. I wish he’d just sing in his regular voice more. Still though, I’m happy Wilco is making new music and I’m looking forward to seeing them on this upcoming tour.

Wilco: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Jeff Tweedy video: Family Ghost

Video: Jeff Tweedy – “Family Ghost”

From WARMER, due April 13 on dBpm.

I can appreciate any song that starts out declaring “I’m a dope.” That is a sentiment I can get behind. Tweedy goes on to describe how it feels to be a liberal middle aged white guy in today’s environment.

I’m a dope
Blowing smoke at the TV screen
Lost all hope
Based on the things I’ve seen
I’m a man content
For the sake of argument
Underneath each added straw
Oh, I feel so American


I drove across the country with my family for spring break this year, and one of the lessons from that trip is: it’s a big country. Really big. And most of it is empty. Like, not even cows. Just fields and tumbleweeds and dirt and mesas and mountains and no people for miles. Wild.

It’s a weird time to be American. Feels like there’s a lot dividing us from each other. What does it even mean to be American? Will we ever share a common reality, or will we continue to live in our own separate bubbles? I don’t see how that’s ever going to change, so it’s hard to have any hope for any kind of united identity. Whatever that means.

I guess it’s something we’ve been grappling with since before we were even an independent nation. Loyalists and patriots and black folks and indigenous people… Was there ever a true American identity? Probably not.

Regardless, this is a lame video.

For something way cooler, check out the two songs he taped for Acoustic Asheville, another new one from Warmer, plus an old classic. Watch below…

Jeff Tweedy: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Jeff Tweedy video: Family Ghost

New Jeff Tweedy video: I Know What It’s Like

Video: Jeff Tweedy – “I Know What It’s Like”

Directed by Mark Greenberg. From WARM, out now on dBpm Records.

I’m about 100 pages into Tweedy’s memoir, Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back), and so far it’s really enjoyable. One of my favorite things about it so far is the antipathy he retains toward his classmates from high school. We all know we’re supposed to let that shit go by the time we’re grown up, but it’s comforting to know there are other people out there who continue to feel “alienated and irrationally repulsed by most of my classmates.”

When he bumped into a woman from his high school who told him she was sad he wouldn’t be attending their twentieth reunion, he writes, “I needed to catch up with her like I needed to sit down with Madonna and reminisce about all the times I watched the ‘Lucky Star’ video on MTV as a teen.”

I know what that’s like.

I wish Tweedy would put more of this kind of conversational humor into his lyrics. His songs used to be funnier…at least occasionally. I love sad sack dad rock as much as anybody (it’s my jam), but I appreciate getting a chance to smirk or even guffaw once in a while to moderate the tears in my beers. But it’s okay. Something else is taking shape, I guess.

Jeff Tweedy: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.