Music, etc.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

More Quick Caps

Yesterday I reviewed two new albums that will be remembered at the end of the year. The two reviews for today are from bands who, in the next few months, I will be seeing live. Both shows should be great for they truely are two of the best in the business. These records helped solidify Arcade Fire in my book and Wilco, well, they're just Wilco.

Wilco - Sky Blue Sky

I'll start off this review with a brash statement: this is the most beautiful record I've heard in years. It's not A Ghost is Born; it's not Yankee Hotel Foxtrot; it's not Summerteeth. Sky Blue Sky doesn't deserve to be compared to those records; they were good on their own terms, but those terms were completely different. Those records shouldn't even be compared amongst themselves for they're all completely different. Jeff Tweedy is a cameleon; nothing he writes sonds even remotely similar to pervious works.

While this album is softer--more soulful, less rock--than previous efforts, each member of the band still contributes in their own way. Sure, Glen Kotche must have been a little bored putting these songs together because of minimal percussion. Nels Cline lends his hand with a lot of prog-guitar, especially on songs like "Shake it Off."

This album has not been released yet, but with it streaming on the bands website all the time, I would be surprised to find a Wilco fan who hasn't heard the record. The backlash has already began. "This is boring," seems to be the calling card for Sky Blue Sky. I'll admit it, the first time I heard the album, I was bored. Fifty plays later, I can say this album is just as affecting as any previous effort. If you can learn to go with the flow and accept the fact that Wilco isn't that much of a rock band anymore, then you'll have an easier time accepting this record for what it is.

Somehow, though, "The Thanks I Get" did not make it on to this album. Much like "Magazine Called Sunset" for "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot," the track did not fit into the album. It is rare for a veteran band to continue to put out great albums with b-sides that are just as good, if not better.

For some odd reason Wilco has picked a show in my town for this upcoming tour. I hope this time, I can meet the entire band and Tweedy. While I didn't get a chance to get tickets to the show a few days afterward in Hammerstein, this is the first time I'm not going to have to travel to see a great band.

"Sky Blue Sky" takes Wilco in a new direction and unlike "Cassadaga," the album maintains itself without falling flat in spots. By now, Jeff Tweedy has solidified himself as the best song-writer around today. If you can't look past the fact that this album won't make you dance, won't make you break stuff, then you're missing out on some of Jeff's most personal songs. This one is a keeper.

Arcade Fire - Neon Bible

"Funeral" came out of no where. In late 2004 the world went crazy for the bad peculiarly named the Arcade Fire. The album managed to live up to it's enormous praise. "Neon Bible," the bands follow up to the popularity was garnered with the same response. Debuting on the charts at number 2; selling out Radio City in minutes; the Arcade Fire are about as mainstream as "indie" gets. But hell, I'd rather them giving the general public a view of indie than having a band like the Arctic Monkeys do it.

If I could describe this complex album in one word it would be intense. Win Butler begins the journey, "I will walk down to the ocean/After waking from the nightmare/No moon, no pale reflection/Black mirror, black mirror." Needless to say, it's a lot darker than funeral. Even without Win's dark lyrics, this album would have worked as a full instrumental release. The arrangements are beautiful with haunting church organs, looping guitars, xylophone, accordion and keyboard.

The Arcade Fire really "Keep the Car Running" with this brilliant sophmore effort. It seems as though, even if Arcade Fire released an album half as good as Neon Bible musically, their intensity and angst alone would make it a good listen. And if their performance on SNL was any show of their intensity live, I am in for a real treat at Radio City.


Post a Comment

<< Home