Wilco – The Whole Love

Wilco’s eighth studio album, The Whole Love, is an exciting and enjoyable cruise through familiar territory. Of the dozen tracks on the album, none veer the Wilco train wildly off the tracks, though there are some interesting and welcome detours along the way.
The opener, “Art of Almost,” gets wild early, though the rest of the disc fails to kick out the jams to such heights again. The arrangements throughout are tight, interesting, and, of course, catchy as can be. With the exception of the leading and closing tracks, each tune is a compact, easily digestible example of Jeff Tweedy’s pop song writing skills. The closing track, “One Sunday Morning (Song for Jane Smiley’s Boyfriend),” is a meandering folk jam clocking in at the 12-minute mark that quite beautifully captures the feeling of a Sunday morning in autumn.
If you’re already a Wilco fan, you probably own this album already. If more than one person whose musical taste you trust has told you that you might like Wilco, you’ll probably dig this album. If you’ve already grown tired of Tweedy & Co’s act, well, you won’t be surprised if this album doesn’t grab you by the balls. Personally, I dig the album, but I’m not about to drop 30 bucks on the LP just yet. But the disc is certainly a creeper, with tunes lingering around in my head days after I’ve politely invited them to leave the party. After a few more spins, I may have to re-evaluate my position and invite The Whole Love in to stay awhile. (dBmp, dbpmrecords.com) Sheldon Birnie

Autumn Defense – Once Around

They better have a defense for the other three seasons. The Autumn Defense’s is the fourth album from Wilco members John Stirratt and Pat Sansone, which makes them a side project of the famous indie band. All I have to say is, why not stick with playing in Wilco and leave side projects for musicians who actually have something interesting to contribute to the music community? At times, Once Around sounds like it’s trying to emulate sixties pop/rock. The result is stale, ignorable, commercial pop music that one mocks when it frequently appears as background music in the latest formulaic romantic comedy. I will say that this is NOT the worst music I’ve ever heard. The title track starts out with Wilco’s signature picking on acoustic guitar and the drums focused on tom, bass and hi-hat. However, the song’s uninspired lyrics: (“You are my only one / When it’s said and done / My heart beats one by one”) and bland pop vocal styling are the ultimate downfall of this album. (Yep Roc, www.yeproc.com) Kyra Leib

Review: On Fillmore – Extended Vacation

Extended Vacation

on_fillmore_480Originally hand-picked to back Jim O’Rourke on his 1999 album, Eureka, bassist Darin Gray and percussionist Glenn Kotche first conceptualized On Fillmore while on tour with O’Rourke in 2000. Since then, they’ve released three albums together. Their fourth, Extended Vacation, has taken three years of hard work and bits of time stolen from their other musical endeavors (Kotche is a member of Wilco and both have various solo projects). Extended Vacation’s particular take on sound collage is composed of field recordings, stand up bass, vibraphone, and a diverse collection of percussive sounds. The result is a spacious, at times tedious, collection of enchanting mid-tempo compositions reminiscent of Michael Andrews’ work on the Donnie Darko soundtrack. In other words, the vibraphone dominates things quite a bit. “Complications” and “Off the Path” sound authentically liminal and eerie, while “Day Dreaming So Early” (like the majority of tracks on this album) seems to be overrun by occasionally obnoxious bird sounds. Bird enthusiasts take note, this is your post-rock soundtrack. (Dead Oceans, www.deadoceans.com) Jonathan Dyck