Radio Cure

Review: A
Wilco FilmI enjoyed read­ing Tbone’s review of the Wilco movie, I am Try­ing to Break Your Heart, and I’m glad to see some­one else writ­ing reviews on Suck­ahs.

It’s odd that a band like Wilco can gen­er­ate so much buzz in the indus­try and among crit­ics, yet remain a band with a small (but very ded­i­cat­ed) fol­low­ing. Despite some video rota­tion and buzz in 1994 on MTV, who sold Wilco in 1994 as an alter­na­tive-coun­try act, they nev­er real­ly broke out. Yan­kee Hotel Fox­trot is, in every mea­sur­able way, an extra­or­di­nary album. Yet, why can’t I stand to lis­ten to it?

I think I have one thing in com­mon with front­man Jeff Tweedy in that I enjoy intel­lec­tu­al­iz­ing music– of course, I do so with my big mouth and key­board, and he actu­al­ly does it. The most strik­ing thing to me in the film, how­ev­er, was hear­ing Wilco play some of the Fox­trot stuff live. How strange– On the album you’ve got these spare arrange­ments with tons of work put into tape loops, sound design and just plain NOISE. He artic­u­lates a desire, in mak­ing the album, to take com­plet­ed songs, and turn them inside-out and decon­struct them. But, when play­ing live, the songs are recon­struct­ed into more coher­ent compositions.

It might be tempt­ing to sug­gest that the album is more a reflec­tion of Tweedy’s work, while the live stuff is the result of the whole band. But hav­ing seen the film, it’s clear that every mem­ber of Wilco was inte­gral to it’s record­ing, includ­ing Jay Ben­nett, who lat­er gets kicked out of the band for basi­cal­ly being a pain in the ass. As a char­ac­ter, he’s both obnox­ious and sympathetic.

I sup­pose when you take any exper­i­men­tal album on the road, (with the excep­tion of maybe Kid A), you can’t cap­ture it the same way in a live set­ting. And, to be hon­est, I am hap­py for it. I loved what I saw in the film’s per­for­mances, and I can’t wait to see them play live.

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