Tuesday, May 15, 2007

On blue and green cash machines

Ever since online distribution drove sales of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot to the point where it became their best-selling album, Wilco have never been shy about giving their music away for free on the web. So it’s not surprising that everyone and their father has already heard the band’s new album, Sky Blue Sky. Nevertheless, today marks the official release of their sixth full-length studio recording and to celebrate, Like Handclaps and Bacon., Tomorrow Never Knows and Extended Drum Solo are collaborating in a “Best of Wilco” debate. We’ve each spent the past month or so deliberating over which tracks to include and which to painfully cut, and today our choices are finally revealed. Dedicated to all the American aquarium drinkers whose goal in life is to be an echo.

Pure Bug Beauty: Marco’s Wilco Mix

1. I’m the Man Who Loves You, from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot - 3:58
2. I’m Always in Love, from Summerteeth - 3:41
3. Monday, from Being There - 3:33
4. Hate It Here, from Sky Blue Sky - 4:33
5. Company in My Back, from A Ghost Is Born - 3:46
6. Heavy Metal Drummer, from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot - 3:08
7. Venus Stop the Train, fromYHF Demos - 4:29
8. Side With The Seeds, from Sky Blue Sky - 4:16
9. California Stars, from Mermaid Avenue - 4:57
10. What’s the World Got in Store, from Being There - 3:09
11. A Shot in the Arm, from Summerteeth - 4:19
12. Misunderstood, from Kicking Television: Live in Chicago - 6:08
13. I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot - 6:58

There are a thousand different ways to make a Wilco mix. I’ve done my best to include something to represent all the elements that make them such a special band – lyricism, musicianship, songcraft, deconstruction, reconstruction, soul, country, rock and roll, pop, ballads, barnstormers. Even Jay Bennet.

Like a lot of people, I entered Wilcoworld through Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, slowly, carefully, not fully understanding what was happening until I was too far in to ever find my way out. I’ve tried to return the debt I owe to YHF by giving it prominence on this mix. One thing I particularly love about that record is the way repeated melodies, lyrics, themes are sprinkled throughout, foreshadowed briefly before dissolving into white noise. I have attempted to replicate that effect here by opening with “I’m the Man Who Loves You” and closing with “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart,” which reprises the chorus. I also included “Heavy Metal Drummer,” because it proves Jeff Tweedy can write catchy pop songs whenever feels so inclined, and the quiet, sad “Venus Stop the Train” from the YHF demos to showcase Tweedy the balladeer.

At one point I joked about using Sky Blue Sky in its entirety, a bit of beer-soaked hyperbole to flaunt my fondness for the near-perfect new record. I somehow managed to whittle it down to the two tracks that showcase Tweedy’s newly discovered upper vocal range -- Tweedy soul singin’ -- a little bit of McCartney from this very Lennon-esque figure.

Elsewhere, for the most part, I’ve gone with the band’s most straightforward and direct, song-ish songs, from the barroom stomp of “Monday” to the keyboard-drenched pop of “I’m Always in Love” and “Shot in the Arm,” with “What’s the World Got in Store” and the Woody Guthrie-penned “California Stars” here to accent Tweedy’s country roots. The live version of “Misunderstood,” meanwhile, is by far the most intense, scary thing this band has put on a record. It may just be the best of the lot.


Blogger clifford d said...

monday over outtasite (outta mind)?

3:44 PM  
Blogger Marco Ursi said...

it's got horns.

7:01 PM  
Blogger Marco Ursi said...

also, recordbreaker is kind of named after The World Record Players.

10:11 AM  

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