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.
A compilation for the weekend. My favourite 9 sounds of 1996, the year before OK Computer, The Fat of the Land and Homework were released, wiping the sound slate clean.
Honourable mentions also go to: Super Furry Animals for ‘If You Don’t Want Me To Destroy You‘ and ‘Hometown Unicorn‘; Primitive Radio Gods for ‘Standing Outside A Broken Phone Booth With Money In My Hand‘; Eels for ‘Novocaine For The Soul‘; Mazzy Star for ‘Look On Down From The Bridge‘; Beck for ‘Where It’s At‘; and The Prodigy for ‘Breathe‘.
A compilation for the weekend. My favourite songs of 1999 in no particular order:
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’.
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:
Honourable mentions also go to: 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‘.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Mermaid Avenue was an homage to Woody Guthrie. In 1998, Billy Bragg and Wilco created music to match hitherto unheard lyrics released by his daughter, Nora Guthrie. ‘California Stars’ was more Jeff Tweedy and Jay Bennett than Billy Bragg. I think that me be why I like it so very much. 1-2-3 “I’d like to rest my heavy head tonight / on a bed of California stars…”
Summerteeth was Wilco’s third album and their first to chart in the UK. Unlike previous releases, the long player was heavily overdubbed in the studio. It was the first sign that Jay Bennett and Jeff Tweedy were taking their americana sound into a more creative place. As a result of perpetual touring, Tweedy’s relationship with his wife was deteriorating. The brilliant ‘She’s A Jar’ ends with the startling lyric “…she begs me not to hit her”. Things were bad; the music was anything but.