The Lonely Minotaur

Music & Concert Reviews

Wilco Bring The Poetry and Magic To “Ode To Joy” — October 13, 2019

Wilco Bring The Poetry and Magic To “Ode To Joy”

Wilco returned last week with their 11th album after a three year hiatus as a group. It wasn’t a complete break for band leader Jeff Tweedy however. He was hard at work penning his well received and outstanding autobiography Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back). On top of that Tweedy released not one but two solo albums cheekily titled Warm (2018) and Warmer (2019). Both were acoustic driven and extremely self reflective on his life once he reached the ripe old age of 50. These themes and style would carry over to Wilco’s newest effort Ode To Joy. A lot of this album feels like it could have been Jeff’s third solo album except now it’s been beefed up by his Wilco buddies and ready to sit firmly in the band’s pantheon. 

Jeff Tweedy and drummer Glenn Kotche made a concentrated effort to record drums for this record in a unique and organic manner. No better example of this then on the opener “Bright Leaves” where such pronounced drum skin pounding is heard. Elsewhere Wilco produce one of their more poppier tunes in years with the bouncy “Everyone Hides”. Lead guitarist Nels Cline makes his presence known on the beautifully understated “We Were Lucky”. His restrained guitar solo sounds like a downed power cable sparking with electricity just ready to roast whoever comes in contact with it. Echoes of Neil Young’s Crazy Horse work easily spring to mind. The best is yet to come with the calvary charge guitar playing of lead single “Love Is Everywhere (Beware)”. You have to hand it to Wilco. They’ve been a band for almost 30 years and can still cook up ideas that impress your ears. This tune is a real pleasure to listen to. 

One could say the overall thesis of Ode To Joy is found in the song “Hold Me Anyway” where Tweedy attempts to make sense of the randomness of life and the hope of a cosmic connection between us all. “Are we all in love just because? No, I think it’s poetry and magic, Something too big to have a name…”. What’s next? Wilco has already embarked on a North American tour this month that will take the band across the states and into Mexico for 2020. I highly recommend catching a gig. Always a great time.  Also be on the look out for a Jeff Tweedy cameo in Curb Your Enthusiasm which is due to return to HBO in 2020. 

Grade: B

Checkout: “Everyone Hides”, “Love Is Everywhere (Beware)”, “We Were Lucky”, “Hold Me Anyway”

Getting Warmer with Jeff Tweedy — April 18, 2019

Getting Warmer with Jeff Tweedy

Jeff Tweedy’s WARMER was one of my top targets for this year’s Record Store Day along with releases by Bob Dylan and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. I arrived at my local record shop (Tunes in Hoboken, NJ) by 6:45 am. Doors would open at 9 am. I was 8th in line. About 30 minutes before opening the owner came out and informed the line of about 100 strong that due to a shipping mistake by Warner/Elektra/Atlantic records, no titles from these labels would be present at the store this morning. A ton of groaning and signs were unleashed. The first guy in the line wanted Weezer’s Teal album and he was rather dejected by arriving so early only to not get the item he wanted. However, the awesome shop owner (Chip) made a list of everyone in line and their intended want list. When the shipment would eventually arrive early next week he would call and contact those who wanted said albums in first come first serve manner. Unfortunately for me, Jeff Tweedy was also in this shipping debacle. 

Well I am happy to say that the shop owner did call on Wednesday and my copy of WARMER was waiting for my open arms. It’s not often an artist releases an album full of brand new material for a first time release on Record Store Day. Usually it’s remixes, b-sides or the now trendy and cliche alternate track versions of classic albums. I personally loved the thrill of getting an album that didn’t leak and that no one had heard prior. Reminds me of how this all use to play out back in the 90s when I first got into music on a serious level. Back when album release dates meant something. They were almost like mini holidays of the bands you cherished and loved. Now we celebrate leak days which technically is the same as a release date drop but with far less camaraderie. 

WARMER was born out of the same sessions as Tweedy’s excellent debut solo album WARM which dropped last winter. The songs are not to be viewed as outtakes, b-sides or leftovers but as a fully functional and independent album from WARM. Jeff has been going through a purple patch of songwriting lately and us fans are benefiting tremendously from it. Tweedy even mentions this is his autobiography Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back) that as he is getting older, with time running out on his life, he feels even more compelled to create a larger volume of musical output. Either via Wilco, his solo records or the band he has with his son Spencer, aptly titled Tweedy. 

On WARMER Jeff is somber and reflective, touching on topics such as deceased parents (“Orphan”), right wing Americana (“Family Ghost”), leaving your loved ones behind to tour (“Sick Server”) and the tribulations of marriage (“Guaranteed”). The album is very laid back and moves briskly in its 31 minutes. This is a record tailor made for any Wilco fan and if you are reading this article right now or listening to WARMER, then you are exactly the type of person Jeff is singing for. So I wish all of you happy hunting when searching out this sharp and enjoyable LP. Currently it is limited to 5,000 vinyl copies. No word yet on future streaming, CD or digital releases but you know it is eventually coming. For now enjoy this album the way it was intended. The way it use to be done all over the musical world. A physical and vinyl experience.

 

For those curious, I also picked up the following items on Record Store Day….

Bob Dylan – Blood On The Tracks test pressing 

Broken Social Scene – Let’s Try the After Vol. 1 & Vol. 2

Frank Black – Teenager of the Year

John Lennon – Imagine (Raw Studio Mixes)

Noel’s Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Wait and Return EP

Pearl Jam – Live at Easy Street

Soccer Mommy – For Young Hearts

U2 – Europa EP