Tag Archives: Wilco

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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Happyness – Montreal Rock Band Somewhere (2014)

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Happyness

“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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Wilco – Muzzle Of Bees (2004)

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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)

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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 – Kangaroo (1978)

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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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Billy Bragg & Wilco – California Stars (1998)

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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…”

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Wilco – She’s A Jar (1999)

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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.

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