Tag Archives: Wilco

9 of the best – sounds of nineties

Good morning. It’s a little bit later than normal but hopefully worth the wait. I participated in Portsmouth’s Great South Run yesterday, which was was celebrating its 30th anniversary with a 1990s party. It was fun, but no semblance of the decade’s best songs involved. I give you my favourite nine sounds in chronological order. I have to say this is by far the toughest best-of list that I’ve published… just look at the quality of sound that I demoted to honourable footnotes.

Massive Attack – Unfinished Sympathy (1991)

R.E.M. – Nightswimming (1992)

Jeff Buckley – Last Goodbye (1994)

The Smashing Pumpkins – 1979 (1995)

Oasis – The Masterplan (1995)

Sparklehorse – Cow (1995)

Radiohead – Let Down (1997)

Mercury Rev – Holes (1998)

Wilco – She’s A Jar (1999)


Honourable mentions also go to: Cocteau Twins for ‘Cherry Coloured Funk‘ (1990); Pulp for ‘Babies‘ (1992); Pavement for ‘In The Mouth A Desert‘ (1992); Blur for ‘To The End‘ (1994) and ‘The Universal‘ (1995); Beastie Boys for ‘Sabotage‘ (1994); The Flaming Lips for ‘Placebo Headwound‘ (1995) and ‘Race For The Prize‘ (1999); Radiohead for ‘Fake Plastic Trees‘ (1995); Red House Painters for ‘Have You Forgotten‘ (1996); Spiritualized for ‘Ladies and Gentlemen We are Floating in Space‘ (1997); and Röyksopp for ‘So Easy‘ (1999).

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Wilco – Hate It Here (2007)


Wilco and Jeff Tweedy telling all how they feel. The brilliant ‘Hate It Here’ is off their 2007 album Sky Blue Sky. It also features on the excellent soundtrack of the movie Boyhood.

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9 of the best – sounds of 1999

A compilation for the weekend. My favourite songs of 1999 in no particular order:

Röyksopp – So Easy

Blur – Coffee And TV

Dr. Dre – Still D.R.E.

Wilco – She’s A Jar

Pavement – Spit On A Stranger

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – I See A Darkness

dEUS – Instant Street

The Flaming Lips – Race For The Prize

Sigur Rós – Starálfur


Honourable mentions also go to: Pépé Bradock & The Grand Brûlé’s Choir for ‘Deep Burnt‘; Mos Def for ‘Ms. Fat Booty‘; Shack for ‘Comedy‘; Pete Heller for ‘Big Love‘; The Flaming Lips for ‘A Spoonful Weighs A Ton‘; Moby for ‘Porcelain‘; and Death in Vegas for ‘Dirge‘.

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Haruomi Hosono – Close To You (2010)

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Like Ryuichi Sakamoto, Haruomi (Harry) Hosono first gained global recognition as one third of the electronic music group Yellow Magic Orchestra. In 2010, postrock maverick Jim O’Rourke had the genius idea of producing All Kinds of People: Love Burt Bacharach, a tribute album to 60s lounge don Burt Bacharach. Yes, I kid you not. The LP features guest vocalists Kahimi Karie, Yoshimi, and several other venerable Japanese artists, including Hosono, who gets a helping drum hand from Wilco’s Glenn Kotche on the classic ‘Close To You’.

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9 of the best – sounds of 2002

Before we get to the nitty gritty of choosing some favourite sounds of the year, a quick canter back to 2002, with songs in no particular order:

The Knife – Heartbeats

The Flaming Lips – Do You Realize?

Supergrass – Prophet 15

Max Richter – November


Sigur Rós – Vaka (Untitled)

The Notwist – One With The Freaks

Boards Of Canada – Alpha And Omega

Interpol – Obstacle 1

Wilco – Ashes of American Flags


Honourable mentions also go to: Layo & Bushwacka for ‘Lovestory‘; John Murphy for ‘In The House, In A Heartbeat‘; Múm for ‘Green Grass Of Tunnel‘; The Promise Ring for ‘Become One Anything One Time‘; People Under The Stairs for ‘Acid Raindrops‘; The White Stripes for ‘Fell In Love With A Girl‘; The Libertines for ‘Up The Bracket‘;and Red Hot Chili Peppers for ‘Universally Speaking‘.

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Happyness – Montreal Rock Band Somewhere (2014)



“I’m wearing Win Butler’s hair/There’s a scalpless singer in a Montreal rock band somewhere.” Happyness may be a band from South London, but they are a band for fans of Wilco, Broken Social Scene and Yo La Tengo. Their self-produced debut album Weird Little Sister was released in 2014 and features the track ‘Montreal Rock Band Somewhere’ – and that lyric, which deserves to be immortal.

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9 of the best – sounds of 2004

It’s a bank holiday weekend in Blighty. Let’s play some music. I write herewith my favourite songs of 2004 and in no particular order:

Kings Of Leon – The Bucket

The Thrills – Whatever Happened To Corey Haim?

Kasabian – Club Foot

Danger Mouse & Jay-Z – Public Service Announcement

The Walkmen – The Rat

Modest Mouse – Float On

Franz Ferdinand – Take Me Out

Wilco – Muzzle of Bees

Sébastien Tellier – La Ritournelle


Honourable mentions also go to: Beastie Boys for ‘Ch-Check It Out‘; MF Doom for ‘Accordion‘; Outkast for ‘Roses‘; Adem for ‘Everything You Need‘; Will Johnson for ‘Just To Know What You’ve Been Dreaming‘; The Killers for ‘Glamorous Indie Rock & Roll‘; David Byrne for ‘Glass, Concrete & Stone‘; and Jens Lekman for ‘Psychogirl‘.

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Wilco – Muzzle Of Bees (2004)


Wilco 2004

I read that Wilco have confirmed a new album, Schmilco, to be released in September. So while I’m on a 2004 run, it would be rude not to feature something off the long player A Ghost Is Born, the band’s follow-up to the classic Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Guitarist/co-producer Jay Bennett had now left the group and Jeff Tweedy was attempting to overcome painkiller addiction. ‘Muzzle Of Bees’ is intricate, folky, psychedelic and well produced. Jim O’Rourke had filled the gap created by Bennett and, with this song, had also created something as good as what preceded it.

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Wilco – Sunken Treasure (1996)


Wilco 1996

Again, I end the week with a touchstone track from the 1990s. From their 1996 album Being There, ‘Sunken Treasure’ was the song that helped Wilco break from the shackles of alt-country. Despite its slow tempo, it became a regular crowd pleaser at Wilco gigs. With his tongue firmly planted in cheek, Tweedy’s voice sounds slightly scruffy as he repeats “I am so out of tune with you, I am so our of tune with you.” The signs of greatness were there and the band would scale to the creative summit over the next 5-6 years.

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Wilco – Magnetized (2015)

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Wilco 2015

In what has already been a relatively current week for Samuelsounds, I cannot help but mention the out-of-the-blue prerelease of a new Wilco album Star Wars. ‘Magnetized’ is one of its standout tracks with its touches of The Beatles’ Abbey Road and Mercury Rev’s Deserter’s Songs. Have a great weekend.

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Big Star – Kanga Roo (1975)

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Big Star

I lived with this guy in the late 1990s who used to tell me how influential Big Star were. He thought power pop; I think Wilco. Jeff Tweedy must have heard and appreciated ‘Kangaroo’ and its dissonance – you can really hear it on Wilco’s Being There  (e.g. ‘Misunderstood’). It is no coincidence this week that ‘Kangaroo’ has also been covered by Jeff Buckley and This Mortal Coil. It’s a small world – it’s a big song. Written by Alex Chilton, ‘Kangaroo’ was off Big Star’s Third album. But is maturity any real excuse for the cowbell?

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Wilco – Ashes of American Flags (2002)

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‘Ashes of American Flags’ is the apex of Wilco‘s sublime Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and it’s one of the true highlights of my last 2-3 decades of music fanaticism: the lyrics (“I wonder why we listen to poets, when nobody gives a fuck”); the distant psychedelia; the escalating beat; and the transition into ‘Heavy Metal Drummer’ on the long player. This is sheer transcending brilliance from Tweedy & co.

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Anthony Newley – Pure Imagination (1971)

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When Russell Brand entered stage left at the Closing Ceremony on Sunday night, it was to the sound of ‘Pure Imagination’. About a decade ago, I went to see Wilco live in London taking the stage to the to Anthony Newley’s eerie and nostalgic sounds from the 1971 movie ‘Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory’. Wilco would open their set with the ‘Pure Imagination’ instrumental followed by the Yankee Hotel Foxtrot track ‘I Am Trying to Break Your Heart’. It was a brilliantly low key start to a grand show. I had not realised that Mr Brand was in the crowd. I feature the Gene Wilder vocal version for its full glory. Have a great weekend.

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Bill Fay – Scream In The Ears (1967)

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Bill Fay

From Bill Fay’s first single in 1967, ‘Some Good Advice’,  B-side ‘Scream in the Ears’ is, frankly, a sublimely crafted song. He would follow the single with two long players, Bill Fay (1970) and Time of the Last Persecution (1971). The albums didn’t sell well and he went off-radar for for 40 years. He has resurfaced in the last couple of years and this time with a seal of approval from Wilco and Jim O’Rourke.

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