I rather like Wilco, and I'm surprised that no one suggested Being There. It was the first sign that something weird and beautiful might be on the horizon for the band. I certainly don't hold it in the same artistic regard as Yankee Hotel Foxtrot or A Ghost is Born, but it was the album that got me into Wilco in the first place way back when.
I find myself at the point where I'd rather listen to one of my favorite songs on repeat a few times than even attempt to tackle a rarely heard (or completely unheard) album, even of artists I enjoy. Laziness? Need for guaranteed comfort? I have no idea.
8/4 DJ Windows 98 @ The Echo, 8/11 La Luz @ Echoplex, 8/20-23 Green Man Festival, 8/28 The Black Ryder @ The Roxy
I'm looking forward to changing albums on Friday at this point.
A Ghost Is Born is an absolute shit choice for any of
a) Listening to for a week
b) Getting into Wilco
go fix Zimbra
That shit's across the street, I'm not touching it.
I'm going to save it for Friday, but I do think the wrong choice was made for the most part.
I'm at the end of the first week, so it's time to lay down my thoughts on A Ghost Is Born. (In the interest in full disclosure, I forgot to listen to it yesterday, but I am listening to it now to make up for it). This album comes off as a textbook definition for mediocrity. The first couple of days, I couldn't get much of anything out of it. None of the songs were sticking. I wasn't sure if this was my fault or the album's fault, but halfway through the week I started to get a good sense of the album, and my conclusion is that the songs just aren't there. Also, the album lacks coherence. The weakest songs are all put in the first half of the album, and the two long tracks seem out of place and completely disrupt the flow. While the album is on, it's pleasant enough to listen to, but it's just not memorable. There's nothing I hate or even strongly dislike here, but there's very little I actually like either. The album is filled with nice moments and production flourishes in service of weak songs. "Spiders (Kidsmoke)" was the first thing that stood out to me, but the more I listened to it, the more I realized you can't just throw a motorik beat behind something and make it great. There's some good stuff in that song, but not enough to warrant 10 minutes. The middle section of the album is the strongest and contains the only really memorable songs on the album. "Hummingbird" is pretty catchy, and the string arrangements that burst out towards the end feel like the first true moment of excitement on the album. "Company In My Back" is the only song on the album I would throw on because I specifically wanted to hear it. The rest of the tracks in this section are above average too, but all that momentum is killed by "Less Than You Think" and its 10 minutes of drone. I like drone, a lot, but it's just so out of place here and drags everything else around it down. It would make sense as the last on the album, but it's place second to last because they obviously wanted to make the point that it's intended to be listened to as part of the album and not just skippable end-of-the-album noise, but it doesn't work as part of the album, so it's just pointless. The final song "Late Greats" is decent enough, but pretty anti-climactic. What I got from this album is the impression that Wilco are a very talented band who let their experimental tendencies get the better of them. I plan on spending some time with their other albums in hopes of hearing more of the scattered promising moments on A Ghost Is Born.
Ok. After a week of listening to an album that I thought was pretty mediocre, I realized that I'm not going to be able to tolerate an album I absolutely hate for a week. So if I end up completely hating any album suggested to me after a couple of days, I reserve the right to cut the week short and dedicate my listening time to other things. Also, I realized there's way too many albums I personally want to get into, so in addition to whatever the board suggests, I'm going to choose an album of my own and write about both of them at the end of the week. I'm going to update the first post with every album I listen to and my grade for them too.
Lost Souls by Doves
This was one of the albums that Alchemy suggested, so I listened to it because they are playing Sasquatch in 2 weeks. I haven't liked an album that much upon first listen in years. For my tastes it was great. It's eclectic, textured, and the lead singer has a good voice. It's 9-years old, so I have no idea why I never listened to it. I'm sure glad I did. So that's my vote.
What's your opinion on A Ghost Is Born?
A Ghost Is Born sorta struck me as bland after a couple of more listens. I can tell why many people say it was good for the band to add Nels Cline. I bet many of those songs sound great live. There were some nice moments. You mentioned "Hummingbird" and I agree with that. It didn't get me excited and make me wonder why I haven't been listening to it for years. It didn't even prompt me to put it in semi-rotation. If I'm gonna go Wilco, I'll listen to Summerteeth or Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.
Grade: C (The 2 Wilco albums I mentioned above are in B to B+ range for me)
Ok. My personal selection for the week is Neutral Milk Hotel - In The Aeroplane Over The Sea. I've listened to it a few times and haven't been able to understand the Jeff-Magnum-is-a-godisms heaped upon this album and want to figure it out.
I like this thread even though you started with an album by Wilco that most Wilco fans found to be a step down when it was released but it should have been expected after Yankee Hotel Foxtrot because that's a once in a lifetime album. A ghost is born is a grower. Even the most die hard Wilco fans hated the noise at the end of Less than you think. Highlites on that album for me are At Least That's What you Said, company in my back, theologians and the late greats.
Pitchfork also gave this album a 6.6 calling it "wildly uneven".
I can't wait to see your write up next week on NMH.
And I'm now doing two albums a week if anyone missed that; one of my own choosing (Neutral Milk Hotel this week) and one suggested by the board. So make suggestions (one per person please) or better yet, second someone else's suggestion you agree with.
Lost Souls is boring too.
Suggest something then.
Patrick, I think Pot is probably in the minority with that opinion. I'm actually interested to see what he suggests.
Moody Blues - Days of Future Passed. Seriously.
I second Pot's notion that Doves are boring.
How about Electrelane - The Power Out. It would provide some good contrast for In The Aeroplane Over the Sea.
I'm vetoing the Hold Steady on the basis that I've already determined I don't like them. Everything else that has been suggested is fair game.
If I were to recommend a Craig Finn album it would be Lifter Puller's Fiestas & Fiascos but I don't think I would pair any of his work with Magnum's.
Since it's the only thing seconded and because I don't want to give you all a chance to choose something shitty, I'm going with Electrelane.
I've actually been meaning to give them a closer listen. Everything I've heard I've liked, but I still don't feel like I know them at all. I always file them under "Stereolab-alike" in my head, but I don't think that's really accurate. So perfect opportunity.
Electrelane certainly have some Stereolab to them. I learned this when I heard Stereolab and was all, hey, that has some Electrelane to it.
They also have some Krautrock thought that is more on their basically instrumental improvy debut, Rock it to the Moon (which, oddly, always bring to mind Come On Die Young)and Axes, which is my favorite of theirs and which kind of combines the experimental side of the debut with the more developed pop song-craft of The Power Out into a rich and dynamic album.