Wednesday, July 25, 2007

On Wilco

If you are regular reader, you probably noticed that I’ve been uncharacteristically silent on Wilco these days. With all the hubbub surrounding the release of Sky Blue Sky in April and the recent skirmish over the Volkswagen commercials, it seemed redundant for me to chime in then. Now that things have settled down, let me weigh in with a few thoughts.

The album is refreshing. After the complexity of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and A Ghost Is Born, the simplicity of Sky Blue Sky is welcome. In some ways, it’s like the Dead’s American Beauty, a mellow affair that followed the chaos of Anthem of the Sun and Aoxomoxoa. The subdued playing and Tweedy’s plaintive vocals really shine, and Nels Cline’s guitar work soars throughout the record. Others have commented on the ‘California’ sound of this record. I think it was EW who called it the ‘best record the Eagles never made.’ That doesn’t sound like a compliment to me, although they liked the record. I hear Randy Newman more than Don Henley. Overall, Sky Blue Sky is soothing, like a mid 70's Dead album, and it gets better each time I listen to it. True , there is nothing on here that equals the brilliance of their previous two releases, but there's also not 10 minutes of low feedback to end the album either.

It is precisely this comfortable sound that lends itself so well as a backdrop to a series of VW television ads that are currently running. Last year I lambasted John Mellencamp for his irritating ‘Our Country’ tune for Chevy. Now here is one of my favorite bands doing nearly the same thing. Nearly. While I’d prefer if it I wasn’t hearing Wilco in a TV commercial, I know that the music was not written for the ad. Tweedy defended the move, saying that they are only trying to reach a larger audience, and they honestly like the VW product line. To me, it seems Our Country was written for the truck commercial, with the hopes that it would help boost record sales (it didn’t work; sales of Mellencamp’s last record were dismal). I know that this is a fine line between the two, but I can tolerate Wilco’s decision, for the time being.

I’m looking forward to Wilco’s September show in Grant Park. The new music may not be as dynamic as their recent efforts, and the live show may suffer a bit as a result, but Wilco is still one of the best live acts going these days, and I’m expecting great things. As an added bonus, the opening act will by Dr. Dog, a Philly band that I raved about earlier this year.

Listen to The Thanks I Get (left off Sky Blue Sky and now used to sell the VW). Just hover over the album cover and press play. Cheers.


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Internet Radio on life support

Do you enjoy the links to quality internet music sites on this site, and countless others that strive to bring musical diversity and innovative ways to share and discover music? It may be ending this weekend....From SaveNetRadio:

Time and options are running out for Internet Radio. Late Wednesday, the court DENIED the emergency stay sought on behalf of webcasters, millions of listeners and the artists and music they support.

UNLESS CONGRESS ACTS BY JULY 15th, the new ruinous royalty rates will be going into effect on Sunday, threatening the future of all Internet Radio.

We are appealing to the millions of Internet Radio listeners out there, the webcasters they support and the artists and labels we treasure to rise up and make your voices heard again before this vibrant medium is silenced. Even if you have already called, we need you to call again.

The situation is grave, but that makes the message all the simpler and more serious.

PLEASE CALL YOUR SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVES RIGHT AWAY and urge them to support the Internet Equality Act. Go to to find the phone numbers of your Senators and Representative.

If they've already co-sponsored, thank them and tell them to fight to bring the bill to the floor for an immediate vote. If the line is busy, please call back. Call until you know your voice has been heard.

Your voices are what have gotten us this far - Congress has listened. Now, they are our only hope.

We are outmatched by lobbying power and money but we are NOT outmatched by facts and passion and the power of our voices.

Again, please go to to find the necessary phone numbers and make the call today.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Dinosaurs in the News

If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow….Recently NME reported that Led Zeppelin are in talks to reunite for a one-night only performance in honor of the recently departed Ahmet Ertegun, founder of Atlantic Records. Behind the drum kit for this performance will be John Bonham’s son Jason. This is the reunion that all Zeppelin fans have dreamed about for years. Rumors then started to fly about a 2008 tour if things go well. Plant has subsequently denied the rumors, but I'm not convinced that this is the end of it. This year’s reunion tours by the Police and Genesis will pale in comparison to the hype and anticipation that a Page-Plant-Jones reunion would generate. I'm sure these guys are well aware of the massive income potential of a reunion tour, and I think it's coming. There’s only one reunion that could possibly top it, and that of course is Pink Floyd. Stay tuned.

Ever since I was a young boy…. During the height of my Who mania last fall, I had a dream that video footage of the Who’s legendary performance at Leeds University in 1970 was miraculously unearthed. A few years ago I also held out hope that the DVD reissue of the Kids Are Alright would include loads of ‘newly discovered footage.’ I just can’t get enough of this stuff, and I am comforted by the idea that rock music archeology is an infinite pursuit. Well good news: Coming soon to a theatre near you… a new documentary by Murray Lerner called Amazing Journey: The Story of the Who. Lerner spent two years searching bootleg networks, soliciting fans and plundering archives around the world, finding all sorts of unseen footage, including very early film from 1964 and yes, footage from Leeds, found by a guy who was a Leeds student at the time. The film will hit theaters this fall. As someone who has seen the Kids are Alright probably 50 times, I’m a little geeked up over this news. My only question at this point is why I didn’t think of this.

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Monday, July 02, 2007

New Music Monday - The Porch Rockers

Something a little different today. In the waning days of free internet music I've found another site that promotes new and undiscovered bands. Sonific is a site that allows users to easily create streaming audio widgets from their large catalog of relatively obscure bands. From their site:

Sonific was founded in July 2005, with the mission of making large catalogs of great music available for many types of audio-visual use on the Internet, both for private / non-commercial or promotional purposes, as well as for professional (B2B) users, and licensed products and services.

Sonific's SongSpots™ service is our first B2C release, reflecting our philosophy that offering better tools for music discovery and providing new, free platforms of exposure is what will really sell music, going forward, and that the viral nature of the Internet is perfectly suited to help get the word out for new and established artists and their music.

Well said.

In scouring the site for something enjoyable to share, I found the Porch Rockers, from Boston, cooking up a mix of acoustic blues, country and roots music that immediately clicked with me. Going deeper into the music on their site, I hear everything from Muddy Waters to John Prine.

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