Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Gut Reaction

As a fan-bordering-fanatic; I'm entitled a few quibbles with Wilco's new release. So here you go.

1) The stupid cover art. It's a first for Wilco that an actual full photograph is used for the cover, and it's an incredibly dumb one. As is the typeface.

2) It's pretentious title. Wilco (The Album). Not just a self titled release, it's specifically: "Wilco (The Album)." It makes the bile rise a little ...

3) It's pretentious, self-aggrandizing track 1, named simply: "Wilco."

4) The bevy of "borrowed" licks. Is that "Werewolves of London" ("Wilco")? How about "Every Day People" ("You Never Know")? A true sign that a strong influence of Nels' "experience" is, indeed, too much of a good thing.

5) Jesus, Tweedy. I thought you kicked your addiction and were onto sunnier days. What's with all the ballads?

6) Yes, I even have a problem with the collaboration with Feist ("You and I"). It's a good song, don't get me wrong, but Tweedy always saved "celebrity" collaborations for his side projects (see also: Golden Smog). Wilco was always his creative stronghold; this departure from that stance makes me fear for the future. Specifically, Jeff beginning to "phone in" his career because he's too lazy/busy/wants the commercial attention. This song screams "radio friendly." I have no problem with Wilco attaining commercial success like it did with Sky Blue Sky, because -- true or not -- that felt at least acccidental; this new album's sound makes it feel like they're actually reaching in that direction. Horrifying.

7) "Bull Black Nova" just blows. It makes me want to stab someone!

8) The repetitive phrasing! In the music and lyrics. It's everywhere, all over this album, in every song; and it's horribly grating!

Still hoping it'll grow on me ... but man; this is A Ghost Is Born all over again. Thankfully, that one did eventually find its way in; but even then, not in its entirety.

Today, though, I'm really missing Jay Bennett. I think I'd rather retreat with my copies of Summerteeth and YHF for the summer and save the new arrival for fall; which is where the heart of the album seems to belong anyway.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

It's like a Reincarnation!

It occurs to me that I would be offended by Vampire Weekend's complete and total ripoff of Simon & Garfunkel's sound if it weren't for the fact that is so entirely pleasing.

Vampire Weekend - Oxford Comma - Vampire Weekend

It's like they took all the great parts from "Cecilia" and "Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard" and forged a 10-song album from them.

As it turns out, sometimes hype is founded.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

File Under: "I Just Don't Get It."

It happens. Writers, friends, random acquaintances; people who typically share your music tastes rave, swoon and obsess over a band you just have to experience.

So you do.

Annnnnd ... you don't get it.

Two such bands for me, that I just want to like with all the want that's there, are the The Fleet Foxes and Guided By Voices.

The Fleet Foxes, with their beautiful, lush harmonies somehow absentmindedly omit music from their music. I get it. You love you some CSNY. And The Band. You are all bearded, scruffy nomad-looking folk from the Pacific Northwest.

Why should I care when there's zero going on with your highly-lauded self titled release aside from four-part harmonies? Especially when I don't like beards? You could be so much more engaging, complex, and -- well -- enjoyable if a fraction of thought was put into more than how prettily we can sing together.

The only saving grace for them, which gives me hope for future releases, is that in this interview with Under The Radar Magazine, lead singer Robin Pecknold actually mourns the enthusiasm the press expressed over the release because it felt so incomplete to him.

Let's just hope the success doesn't go to his head.

Then there's Rob Pollard. The quintessential darling of Magnet Magazine, my alt-rock periodical of choice.

I've made my way through a large portion of the GBV catalog. There's a lot of catchy in there.

A lot of catchy, half-finished thoughts.

What is it with this guy? Is it just that he's a punk rocker trapped in an indie-rocker's body? Why can't he see a full phrase through? Most of the songs just trail off into oblivion without any semblance of finality. It seems to me that if he'd taken half of what he'd written, stew over the songs for a few days and actually go through the editing process, he'd come away a brilliant poet/lyricist/songwriter.

Instead, the result is just aggravating, frustrating, annoying ... but not noise, like punk rock is ... it's just so ...


That's the word.

Rob Pollard's songwriting, to me, is sex without the courtesy of completion.

Or maybe I just need someone to explain it to me.