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Wilco (The Album): (Not) A Review

June 8, 2009

[Editor’s Note: Matt Hoffman wrote this article in a sleep-deprived stupor. Read at your own risk.]

wilco the album-thumb-450x450You know Wilco, right? Best American rock band working today? Recorded the modern classic Yankee Hotel Foxtrot? Don’t tell me you haven’t heard of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

Sigh… Uh, maybe you’ve seen their Volkswagen commercials?

Welcome to the 21st century, era of the niche market, in which there is no Greatest Band in the World, no record so irresistible that its success defies categorization by generation, race or class. Why would we need such things when we have headphones? You don’t have to like my music, and I don’t have to like yours. Horny teenagers can have their Souljah Boy. Nostalgic Southerners can have their–I don’t know, Big & Rich? And I, as an educated (well, getting there anyway) white liberal, have my Wilco.

You?

You?

Perhaps you, too, are an educated white liberal, or perhaps you aren’t but have nevertheless become familiar with Wilco through some freak accident. If so, I don’t need to lay out the Wilco mythology for you. You already know about the alt-country roots, the expansion into orchestral pop and post-rock sonic experiments, the triumphant battle with the record label that just didn’t get it, and the recent return to more conventional rock songwriting. In fact, you’ve had ample time since Wilco (The Album) leaked in May to scour the internet for pre-release reviews from commentators more qualified than I. If you want, you can run a quick Google search right now, or you can just rely on my summary: Wilco (The Album) is unsurprising and well-executed. It echoes the serenity of Sky Blue Sky without the advantage of that album’s place in the group’s narrative arc. It is the sound of a band which is comfortable with its own identity and mired in AM-radio pap. Jeff Tweedy is a genius and Jay Bennett was really the talented one.

Got all that? Good. This will be a topic of conversation among people you know.

Unless, that is, you aren’t an educated white liberal, or you are but for some reason have missed out on the Greatest Band of Your Demographic. In that case, we have a lot of catching up to do. Here, listen to this song. You like it? Look at this: Rolling Stone calls Yankee Hotel Foxtrot a “masterpiece”! Now don’t you feel like you’ve been missing out? Don’t you just want to listen to the entire Wilco discography? Make sure you go in order; if you start with Wilco (The Album), you might be fooled into thinking that “You Never Know” is a decent song rather than a symbol of Tweedy’s shift from experimentation to Tom Petty-style throwbacks. Just start with A.M. for now. I’ll call at regular intervals to check on your progress.

Once you’re done with that, you can help me spread the word! We’ll crash house parties, cut the stereos off in the middle of “Crank That” and put on “Hell Is Chrome” in its place. We’ll hijack the Nashville airwaves and broadcast the Mermaid Avenue CDs on repeat, 24/7. We’ll defeat anyone who refuses to recognize the superiority of our subculture! We’ll prove that we are not just a Long Tail–we are the longest tail of them all!

Or maybe we’ll just put more Wilco songs in commercials. That might be easier.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Mike permalink
    June 8, 2009 4:22 pm

    You should write sleep-depraved more often.

    Mike

  2. r sam permalink
    June 11, 2009 7:44 pm

    sleep-deprived makes you more angsty. and reminiscent of an angrier stuffwhitepeople like. but entertaining no less.

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