Wilco
(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
A.M. , 5/10
Being There , 7/10
Mermaid Avenue , 6/10
Summer Teeth , 7/10
Jeff Tweedy: Chelsea Walls , 4/10
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot , 7.5/10
Loose Fur, 6/10
Autumn Defense: The Green Hour (2001), 6/10
Autumn Defense: Circles (2003), 5/10
Glenn Kotche: Introducing (2002), 6.5/10
Glenn Kotche: Next (2004), 5/10
Glenn Kotche: Mobile (2006) , 6.5/10
A Ghost Is Born (2004), 5.5/10
Loose Fur: Born Again In The USA (2006) , 6/10
Jay Bennett: The Magnificent Defeat (2006), 6/10
Sky Blue Sky (2007) , 5/10
Wilco The Album (2009), 5/10
On Fillmore: On Fillmore (2002), 6/10
On Fillmore: Sleeps with Fishes (2004), 5.5/10
On Fillmore: Extended Vacation (2009), 5.5/10
The Whole Love (2011), 6/10
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Jeff Tweedy degli Uncle Tupelo, discepolo dichiarato di Gram Parsons, rompe con il socio Jay Farrar e vara il progetto Wilco. Tweedy canta sempre del disorientamento delle giovani generazioni nella societa` post-industriale, forse con un tono piu` urbano.

L'unico vero pregio delle canzoni un po' noiose di A.M. (Reprise, 1995) e` che la loro amarezza viene davvero dal cuore. A parte lo stile chiassoso e corale di Casino Queen, che riecheggia di Faces e Rolling Stones, e il riff grintoso di Box Full Of Letters, che scimmiotta i Byrds, il disco nuota in un sound pigro e mediocre, un po' Neil Young e un po' Bob Dylan (Passenger Side), ma senza convinzione. Non rimane che ascoltare le liriche, ma Tweedy non e` esattamente William Shakespeare. Molte canzoni (I Must Be High, Pick Up The Change) sono semplicemente invettive personali contro amici o amiche che l'hanno disertato, e non a caso spesso (Shouldn't Be Ashamed) fanno venire in mente Tom Petty, il maestro della recriminazione e del battibecco in musica. Nonostante la campagna pubblicitaria, il disco e` deludente. Non c'e` nulla che non si sia ascoltato gia` cento volte, e in maniera molto migliore. Le schitarrate sono dozzinali, l'accompagnamento e` da dilettanti.

Il monumentale Being There (Reprise, 1996), comprendente ben 19 canzoni, rivisita le radici musicali di Tweedy, dai Rolling Stones, ai quali e` ispirato il deragliante rhythm and blues di Monday, alla Band, che potrebbe invidiargli Kingpin, da Tom Petty (Outtasite) a Bob Dylan (Someone Else's Song). Tweedy ha insomma tempo per indulgere in tutti i peccati a cui ci ha abituati.
La novita` sostanziale e` rappresentata dall'arrangiamento. Non soltanto gli strumenti sono aumentati, e le tastiere (di Jay Bennett) in particolare sono in primo piano, ma la struttura e la dinamica delle canzoni ha acquistato una complessita` che spesso le porta definitivamente fuori dalla tradizione folk e country. Misunderstood, il manifesto del nuovo corso, arranca per sei minuti in maniera sempre piu` sincopata, fino a finire in un incubo dissonante. Fa coppia con l'altro lungo brano concettuale del disco, Sunken Treasure, una trenodia funerea, languida, acustica. The Lonely 1 mette a frutto quegli esperimenti: e` il brano piu` intimo e introverso del disco, ma anche uno dei piu` articolati, seppure organo, chitarra e violino sono appena accennati.
Aumentare il volume non giova invece a I Got You, una specie di power-pop alla Cheap Trick, e a Dreamer in My Dreams, un numero honky-tonk registrato dal vivo in studio, urlato alla Little Richard e strimpellato alla Honky Tonk Women.
Il gruppo eccelle invece in quello che era il loro punto debole, il country tradizionale: Far Far Away, Forget the Flowers e Someday Soon regalano deliziose revisioni postmoderne (e un po' parodistiche) del genere. Anche le melodie vaporosamente pop di Outta Mind e Why Would You Wanna Live, che nominalmente si rifanno a Raspberries e Big Star, sfoggiano questo piglio iconoclasta. Tweedy si concede persino il lusso di filastrocche stralunate e "lo-fi" come Red-Eyed and Blue. Tutta roba che non appartiene al suo (terribilmente serio) background. Sono gli arrangiamenti a fare la differenza, ad aggiungere quel pizzico di humour e di straniamento che trasformano una boriosa paternale in un aforisma eccentrico.
Quando Tweedy si ricorda del suo stile ombroso, il gruppo lo costringe ad adottare l'intensita` dei Soul Asylum (Hotel Arizona, con clavicembalo, e Say You Miss Me, con organo e coro), ma manca lo spunto melodico che le redima dal tedio.
Non e` certo The River o Exile On Main Street (i due doppi che probabilmente hanno ispirato Tweedy), ma se non altro segna un netto progresso musicale.

Jeff Tweedy suona anche nei Golden Smog.

I Wilco registrano poi un disco con Billy Bragg, Mermaid Avenue (Elektra, 1998), che mette in musica le ultime liriche scritte da Woody Guthrie. Il disco appartiene piu` a Bragg che a Tweedy. Tweedy viene ispirato dall'occasione a scrivere due delle sue canzoni piu` epiche e vivaci, Hesitating Beauty e She Came Along To Me, che non avrebbero sfigurato sul Blonde On Blonde di Dylan. Mermaid Avenue II (Elektra, 2000) Airline to Heaven Secret of the Sea

Ken Coomer, John Stirrat, e Jay Bennett compongono il gruppo di accompagnamento di Jeff Black sul suo album di debutto, Birmingham Road (Arista Austin).

Jeff Tweedy's Wilco expanded Uncle Tupelo's vocabulary towards the Byrds' folk-rock, Neil Young's mournful ballads, the Rolling Stones' drunk rhythm'n'blues, the Band's domestic gospel-rock, Bob Dylan's Blonde On Blonde and Big Star's baroque pop on their second album, Being There (1996). Jay Bennett's keyboards helped pen arrangements that left their roots way behind. Summer Teeth (1999), the natural evolution of that idea, was thus a studio product that relied heavily on electronic sounds, and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002), their most experimental album, was a hodgepodge of eccentric arrangements and skewed melodies, a majestic nonsense that bridged the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds and Radiohead's OK Computer.
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(Translation by/ Tradotto da Jacopo Fiorentino)

Summer Teeth (Reprise, 1999) ä un prodotto da studio che deve molto alle tastiere e ai suoni elettronici. Ma, in ogni caso, e' comunque molto vicino al roots-rock. Nello spirito, se non nella tecnina, e' dalle parti del pop barocco di Pet Sounds, dei Beach Boys, e della psychedelia epica del Bob Dylan di Blonde On Blonde. Can't Stand It si dipana intorno ad un ritmo sincopato e ad un piano jazz, mnetre il ritornello ä preceduto da un organo blues. She's A Jar inizia come una meditazione marziale, alla Dylan, ma il ritornello ä puro pop del tipo pió allegro (un pomposo mellotron simula un'orchestra). A Shot In The Arm confina pericolosamente con un sound Beatlesiano, e When You Wake Up Feeling Old flirta con i felpati suoni degli show di Broadway. Pieholden Suite offre un satanico incrocio tra i Beatles e Bacharach, mentre il gospel We're Just Friends mescola Bob Dylan e David Bowie insieme negli stessi toni, una delle pió sommesse interpretazioni di Tweedy. L'album e' un grande tributo alle facce sorridenti degli anni sessanta. L'alleggra I'm Always in Love (che riprende un boogie alla maniera dei Velvet Underground) e la marcia Nothing's Ever Gonna Stand In My Way ricordano la bubblegum music e il periodo del Merseybeat. Countless nuances sembra presa dalla discografia dei Beatles. Ci sono solo pochi momenti in cui Tweedy torna alle suo tono pió personale, quello del malinconico cantante e cantautore di Via Chicago. Nonostante questa incoerenza, questo e' album monumentale che fa ritrovare fede nelle possibilita' di una onesta musica pop. Coomer ha lasciato i Wilco per unirsi ai join Swag, il supergruppo composto da Robert Reynolds e Jerry Dale McFadden dei Mavericks'. Jeff Tweedy ha anche composto la colonna sonora del film Chelsea Walls (Rykodisc, 2002): cinque canzoni (che sono scarti dei precedenti album dei Wilco, e di cui solo due sono suonate da lui) e sette tracce strumentali.

Jay Bennett ha pubblicato The Palace at 4am (Undertow, 2002), una collaborazione con Edward Burch.

Summer Teeth (Reprise, 1999) is a studio product that relies heavily on keyboards and electronic sounds. It hardly relates to roots-rock anymore. It is closer in spirit (if not in technique) to the baroque pop of Beach Boys' Pet Sounds and to the epic psychedelia of Bob Dylan's Blonde On Blonde.
Can't Stand It limps around a syncopated beat and a jazzy piano figure, the refrain enhanced by a bluesy organ. She's A Jar begins as a Dylan-esque, martial meditation, but the refrain is pure pop of the cheesiest kind (a pompose mellotron simulating the orchestra). A Shot In The Arm borders dangerously on Beatles-ian morosity, and When You Wake Up Feeling Old flirts with the shoddiness of Broadway's show tunes, and Pieholden Suite offers a dreadful cross between the Beatles and Bacharach, but the piano-based gospel We're Just Friends is quite mesmerizing in the way it weaves Bob Dylan and David Bowie together in the same tune, one of Tweedy's most subtle interpretations.
The album is a giant tribute to the smiling faces of the Sixties. The upbeat I'm Always in Love (that borrows the Velvet Underground's boogie pace) and the march-like Nothing's Ever Gonna Stand In My Way hark back to bubblegum music's one-hit wonders and to Merseybeat's teenage novelties. Countless nuances are taken from the canon of the Beatles.
There are only a few moments when Tweedy returns to his previous self, the pensive singer songwriter of Via Chicago.
Despite the flaws, this is a groundbreaking album that restores faith in the possibility of honest pop music.

Coomer quit Wilco to join Swag, the supergroup formed by the Mavericks' Robert Reynolds and Jerry Dale McFadden.

Jeff Tweedy also composed the soundtrack to the film Chelsea Walls (Rykodisc, 2002): five songs (which are really leftovers from previous Wilco albums and only two of which feature him) and seven instrumental tracks.

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (Nonesuch, 2002), named after a track off the legendary Conet Project, and originally released on the Internet in 2001 after being rejected by their label, is Wilco's experimental album, all eccentric arrangements and skewed melodies. This majestic nonsense blends late, spaced-out Byrds and Sticky Fingers-era Stones (I Am Trying To Break Your Heart, in which a dissonant carillon of toy piano eventually coalesces into a soaring melody), Lalena-era Donovan and She's So Cold-era Stones (Kamera), Kinks and Todd Rundgren (Heavy Metal Drummer), catchy Mersey-sound and noisy rhythm'n'blues (I'm the Man Who Loves You), Grateful Dead and Simon & Garfunkel (War on War), Steely Dan and Fleetwood Mac (Jesus), etc etc.
Experiments abound in every song, and turn Radio Cure and Poor Places into chamber pieces embedded within a casually careening song. Far from being a mere exercise in style, this album is also one of Tweedy's most personal statements, offering a scathing and disturbing wall-size portrait of the tragic times following September 11 (Ashes Of American Flags, the lengthy psychodrama Reservations that ends with an eerie instrumental elegy). Wilco continues to move away from "alt-country", along the path opened by Summer Teeth.
The contribution of keyboardist Jay Bennett must have been crucial, but he left the band soon after completing this album.
(Translation by/ Tradotto da Luca Battistini)

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (Nonesuch, 2002), titolato col nome di una traccia del leggendario Conet Project, e inizialmente diffuso su Internet nel 2001 dopo essere stato rifiutato dalla loro etichetta, e' l'album sperimentale dei Wilco, pieno di arrangiamenti eccentrici e melodie sghembe. Questo maestoso nonsense mischia i tardi, space-rock Byrds (I Am Trying To Break Your Heart) e gli Stones dell'era di Sticky Fingers, Steely Dan e Dire Straits (Kamera), Kinks e Todd Rundgren (Heavy Metal Drummer), Neil Young e Giant Sand (I'm the Man Who Loves You), Grateful Dead e Traffic (War on War), etc etc. Gli esperimenti abbondano in ogni canzone, trasformando Radio Cure e Poor Places in pieces da camera con un canto che oscilla casualmente. Lungi dall'essere un mero esercizio di stile, questo album e' anche una delle dichiarazioni piu' personali di Tweedy, offrendo un caustico e scomodo affresco di questi tempi tragici (Ashes Of American Flags, Reservations). I Wilco continuano ad allontanarsi dall' "alt-country", lungo il sentiero aperto da Summer Teeth.

Jeff Tweedy surrounded himself with Boxhead Ensemble's drummer Glenn Kotche and guitarist Jim O'Rourke on Loose Fur (Drag City, 2003). The trio is not particularly creative, despite indulging in extended tracks, or entertaining, despite grounding the songs into simple melodies. The playing is too sloppy, slow and detached. Hearing Tweedy whisper Laminated Cat over a light boogie rhythm and discretely twanging guitars is not particularly exciting. Elegant Transaction is a morphing folk-jazz ballad that is more "elegance" than "transaction". Chinese Apple, possibly the best vocal number, updates Donovan's fragile lullabies to bossanova-inspired post-rock. All the guitar doodling, with its fake-avantgarde pretensions, adds up to very little (as the instrumental Liquidation Totale proves). The notable exception is the four-minute coda to the Neil Young-ian ballad So Long, whose atonal counterpoint turns into heavenly CSN&Y harmonies the same way a lens goes from unfocused to focused. Dynamics, shading and juxtaposition upset the frail, pastoral, melodic cartilage of these slow, lengthy madrigals. Each song is a sonic decay, an impediment to the development of a real song. Which is both "art" and the negation of art.

Loose Fur's Born Again In The USA (Drag City, 2006) gets stuck in a kind of quirky and erudite folk-rock that is cohesive and is not attractive. It requires some thinking, but the more one pays attention to the poppy Stupid As The Sun and Hey Chicken the less excited one gets. The musical personas of Jeff Tweedy, Jim O'Rourke and Glenn Kotche truly coalesce only in the post-rock essay Wreckroom and in the instrumental An Ecumencial Manner. The vocals and the lyrics are effective repellents throughout the album.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Luca Battistini)

Jeff Tweedy si circonda di Glenn Kotche e <A HREF=orourke.html>Jim O'Rourke</A> su <b>Loose Fur</b> (Drag City, 2003). Il trio non e' particolarmente creativo, malgrado indulga in tracce lunghe, ne' particolarmente divertente, malgrado le canzoni siano basate su melodie semplici. L'esecuzione e' troppo leziosa, lenta e distaccata: non e' particolarmente eccitante ascoltare Tweedy che sussurra <i>Laminated Cat</i> su ritmo blues e chitarre strimpellate con discrezione. <i>Elegant Transaction</i> e' una ballad folk-jazz, piu' <i>elegance</i> (eleganza) che <i>transaction</i> (operazione). <i>Chinese Apple</i>, forse il miglior numero vocale, aggiorna le fragili ninnenanne di Donovan a un post-rock ispirato alla bossanova. Tutti i ghirigori di chitarra, con le loro pretese da finta avanguardia, hanno ben poco significato (come dimostra lo strumentale <i>Liquidation Totale<i>). L'eccezione degna di nota sono i quattro minuti di coda della ballad Neil Young-iana <i>So Long</i>, il cui contrappunto atonale si trasforma in armonie celestiali alla CSN&Y, allo stesso modo in cui si mette a fuoco una lente sfocata. Dinamica, sfumatura e giustapposizione turbano la cartilagine fragile, pastorale e melodica di questi lenti, lunghi madrigali. Ogni canzone è' un disfacimento sonoro, un impedimento allo sviluppo di una vera canzone. La qual cosa e' allo stesso tempo "arte" e negazione dell'arte.

Glenn Kotche's first solo album, Introducing (Locust, 2002), was an experiment in free-form electroacoustic percussion-based music. Next (Quakebasket, 2004) continued the experiment, but the tracks were too short to be more than sketchy. Mobile (2006) was a much more experimental work, focusing on rhythm and repetition, almost a treatise on minimalism from the viewpoint of a drummer (Clapping Music Variations, Mobile Parts 1 & 2, Reductions Or Imitations). Kotche created an unlikely blend of ethnic, glitch, jazz and minimalist music.

Wilco's bassist John Stirratt and multi-instrumentalist Pat Sansone formed Autumn Defense and released The Green Hour (Broadmoor, 2001) and Circles (Arena Rock, 2003).

Retreating from the experimental orgy of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Wilco turned A Ghost Is Born (Nonesuch, 2004) into their most pensive, introspective, melancholy album. The experiments (the lengthy guitar-heavy prog-rock rumination of Spiders and the lengthy Neil Young-ian coda of Less Than You Think) sound out of context, and a bit indulgent (their length is unjustified, other than to fill the disc). The poppy tunes (Hummingbird, Muzzle of Bees) are just that: trivial pop. The rest is uniformly Wilco-esque, i.e. dejavu. The album was the band's greatest commercial success, entering the top-1o charts.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Fabio Niccoli)

Il primo album solistico di Glenn Kotche, Introducing (Locust, 2002), è un esperimento di musica basata su percussioni elettro-acustiche al di fuori di forme "convenzionali". Next (Quakebasket, 2004) prosegue questo esperimento, ma le singole tracce sono troppo corte, da risultare quasi "abbozzate".

Il bassista degli Wilco, John Stirrat e il polistrumentista Pat Sansone hanno formato gli Autumn Defense e hanno pubblicato The Green Hour (Broadmoor, 2001) e Circles (Arena Rock, 2003).

Superata lí"orgia" sperimentale di Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Wilco con A Ghost Is Born (Nonesuch, 2004) pubblicano il loro album più malinconico e introspettivo. Gli esperimenti, pur presenti (la lunga elucubrazione prog-rock di Spiders e la lunga coda alla Neil Young di Less Than You Think) appaiono qui fuori contesto e perfino condiscendenti (la loro lunghezza ingiustificata sembra quasi mirata a completare il disco). Le melodie più pop (Hummingbird, Muzzle of Bees) non sono altro che pop frivolo. Il resto è uniformemente in stile Wilco : ovvero un "deja-vu".

Wilco's multi-instrumentalist Jay Bennett had already released The Palace at 4am (Undertow, 2002), a collaboration with Edward Burch, and the mediocre Bigger Than Blue (2004). He then exorcised his ghosts with the aching ballads of The Beloved Enemy (2004) and The Magnificent Defeat (2006).

Jeff Tweedy further steered Wilco towards mainstream laid-back country-rock (with eerie 1970s overtones) on Sky Blue Sky (Nonesuch, 2007), despite the addition of jazz-rock guitar titan Nels Cline. Nostalgic (Side With The Seeds), senile (On And On And On) and childish (What Light, the songs cannot shake the drowsiness that permeates them from the very beginning (Either Way). With the exception of Impossible Germany, Cline has rarely been so misused in his career.

The standouts of Wilco (The Album) (Nonesuch, 2009) are the placid country-rock lament You And I, You Never Know (drenched in pummeling-piano emphasis a` la Bruce Springsteen), and Wilco The Song the archetype for the diligent and accomplished pop tunes of the album (with a rhythmic progression worthy of the Rolling Stones and a soaring hook). The hidden gem might be Solitaire, a barely audible confession embedded in the most naked ambience of the album. However, the tenderly subdued Deeper Down and the slightly neurotic Bull Black Nova are emblematic of how the band stretches simple ideas to the limit in the least spontaneous of manners. The slow ballad Country Disappeared and the languid elegy Everlasting Everything are second-rate muzak.

Glenn Kotche was also active in the instrumental side-project On Fillmore, a collaboration with Brise-Glace's upright bassist Darin Gray. They debuted with the avantgarde On Fillmore (2002), containing the three-part suite Cave Crickets, the three-part suite Beautiful Funeral and especially the 16-minute Captive Audience for vibraphone and bass, and followed up with the more serene and quasi-ambient Sleeps with Fishes (2004), containing the 12-minute Hikali, the eight-minute Taisho, and the ten-minute Doitsu. Their third album, Extended Vacation (Dead Oceans, 2009), begins with Checking In, a brief overture in which vibraphone, bass, birds and an odd arsenal of objects engage in a playful dance. The gentle melody of the six-minute Master Moon is spoiled by the found objects to the point that it feels like hearing Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake performed by a troupe of gypsies. An even more angelic vibraphone melody permeates the eleven-minute Daydreaming So Early. For a while it coexists peacefully with bird sounds, but then strange noises erupt in the background (even a marching band) and disrupt the harmony. The seven-minute Complications minimizes both the music and the noise until almost the end, when ghostly reverbs, echoes and drones sweep everything away. The jazzier twelve-minute Extended Vacation tries a bit too hard to create complexity out of simplicity succeeding only in the madcap coda.

The Whole Love (Anti, 2011) was their most eclectic, chaotic and confused work yet, ranging from the country elegy Open Mind to the stomping vaudeville skit Capitol City, from the power-pop ditty Dawned on Me to the rock'n'roll rave-up Standing O, from the catchy single I Might to the acid piano ballad Sunloathe, and from the morbid acoustic meditation Rising Red Lung to the mood piece Black Moon. None of this is essential, but it is all performed with great elegance and instrumental dexterity. The stellar axis of guitarist Nels Cline and drummer Glenn Kotche works wonders throughout the album, but is a little wasted in these mediocre tributes to disparate genres. Multi-instrumentalist Pat Sansone and keyboardist Mikael Jorgensen play a role in expanding the combo's horizons in the more ambitious pieces: the graceful 12-minute post-rock acoustic pastiche One Sunday Morning (a` la Less Than You Think, sort of Bob Dylan's Sad Eyed Ladies or Neil Young's Ambulance Blues for the digital age) and the schizophrenic seven-minute prog-rock mini-opera Art of Almost (programmed beats, strings and dissonance). In this album the sextet reached the point that the impeccable instrumental skills overcame any limitation in the compositions.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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