Thursday, October 20, 2011

A whole lotta love for Wilco

If you watch this video of Wilco performing on NPR's Tiny Desk Concert series and don't go out immediately and buy their new album, well, you can't blame us.

The Whole Love is sounding like the best we've heard from Jeff Tweedy & Co. NPR's Bob Boilen calls Wilco "the best rock band in America," which is begging for an argument, but he won't get one here. There are four songs and more than 18 minutes to help convince you.

Those who know us are aware that when Uncle Tupelo disbanded in 1994 and split into two groups we stubbornly aligned ourselves with UT's leading protagonist, Jay Farrar, and his new band Son Volt -- largely on the strength of Trace, one of the best albums of 1995. When Tweedy and Wilco countered with A.M. a rivalry was born, tipping heavily in Farrar's favor at the start.

We eventually decided it was OK to appreciate both artists, and it didn't hurt when Wilco began to kick out some memorable albums. The turning point actually came in 1998 with a joint effort (how could that not be a success?) when Billy Bragg dragged Wilco into the studio to help produce Mermaid Avenue, a splendid album of songs born out of old Woody Guthrie lyrics.

But it wasn't until the release of the band's fourth album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot in 2002 that Tweedy and Wilco began to gain their now mythic foothold on American rock. That stood as our favorite until 2009's Wilco (The Album). And now, here we are, singing the praises of The Whole Love like it's the best thing that ever came down the pike. This will require further review, which we're more than up for.


  1. This post brings back a few memories of hanging out in your office and debating Farrar vs. Tweedy. Neither of us could fathom taking Tweedy's side back then. But I think we're in agreement that he has lapped Farrar numerous times in the succesful artist department. Glad to see someone else giving The Album some love. It's probably my second favorite after A.M. The new album is still growing on me. I did listen to Art of Almost today and, damn, Nels Cline is amazing the last few minutes of the track. Oh, and as to the Billy Bragg collaboration, we have found that one of the songs that calms down Case is Way Over Yonder In The Minor Key.