Ode To Joy By Wilco Reviews And Tracks

WilcoJeff Tweedy recently released his first solo record of original material, WARM, via dBpm Records to widespread acclaim. The following year, the group released Kicking Television: Live in Chicago, a 23-track collection recorded in the Windy City’s Vic Theater, an album that was later deemed one of the Top 20 best live albums by Q Magazine. In 2007 Wilco’s sixth studio album, Sky Blue Sky, hit shelves. Less experimental than its predecessors, Sky Blue Sky peaked at number five on the U.S. album charts and made a strong showing internationally. Wilco’s seventh album, the breezy and laid-back Wilco (The Album), was released on June 30, 2009, one month after the death of former bandmember Jay Bennett , who passed away in his home in Urbana, Illinois, after accidentally overdosing on the prescription painkiller fentanyl.

That’s pretty much the strategy of Ode To Joy, and it unspools accordingly. I remember when wars would end,” Tweedy sings on Before Us,” meditating on his forebears, maybe departed, joined by a gang who deliver the chorus like a Christmas carol. Themes from his memoir flicker through the set — here, the loss of his parents; on the somberly strummy One And A Half Stars,” anxiety, recovery from an addiction to painkillers, and a tendency towards excessive napping.

Such directness and vulnerability was striking, especially coming from a songwriter who has so often shrouded his feelings in the oblique, ambiguous, and surreal. Furthermore, addressing his own biography head-on seemed to jumpstart Tweedy’s writing about other subjects too, be it the tender reassurances Don’t Forget” and I Know What It’s Like” or the contagiously fun Let’s Go Rain,” a half-serious plea for God to wipe the Earth clean with another global flood. Within Tweedy’s own world, WARM’s homespun folk-rockers were far from a reboot of biblical proportions, but he sounded rejuvenated and on the brink of a creative breakthrough. And with Wilco’s new album Ode To Joy, that breakthrough has arrived.

TWEEDY: Wilco Schmilco fit also because I felt like a lot of those songs were about shedding some identity, and maintaining a space for yourself to invent yourself. And that’s a difficult thing to do as a rock band that’s been around forever. I guess that’s what I’m trying to say about Ode to Joy. I don’t think we tried harder with the music on the new record, I think we tried harder at just exactly that self-invention. Schmilco is commenting on it, Ode to Joy is actually doing it.Wilco

Weariness sounds good on Jeff Tweedy. Much of the power and beauty across Wilco’s discography has resulted from their founder and frontman sounding beaten-down by life on Earth, reflecting back his listeners’ struggle to make sense of their own messy existence. Tweedy is better than most at crafting punchy pop songs and rousing rockers, but he unlocks some kind of special songwriting magic when he digs into his own pain and fatigue and peers out at the world through bleary eyes, bewildered but still clinging to hope. Stare back long enough and his ache becomes indistinguishable from your own.

Sonically, Ode To Joy feels like an extension of recent albums like 2015’s Star Wars and 2016’s Schmilco, which dramatically stripped down the sumptuous, retro-rock arrangements of 2011’s The Whole Love (which itself was presented as a kind of comeback record) in favor of something scrappier, stranger, and more spare. Like its two predecessors, Ode To Joy’s most prominent elements are Jeff Tweedy’s world-weary vocals, which voice philosophical musings on the nature of mortality and the salvation of familial love, and the always brilliant percussion of Glenn Kotche. On Joy, Kotche often downshifts to a deliberate plod, giving the songs a pulse-like rhythm that underscores the introspective melancholy of Tweedy’s songs.

And empathy’s surely on the table here, not that it hasn’t always been a defining attribute of band led by our great, wry, American consolation-poet,” as novelist George Saunders put it. But the present moment seems to call for a doubling-down on whatever you’ve got, and the fittingly-named Ode To Joy opens, fittingly, with what sounds a lot like sadness: a woozy, noise-scarred lament about stasis and stuff buried in the snow, sung in a wheezy voice over a death-march beat pounded out with what might be boxes of Kraft macaroni and cheese. But the energy picks up, the melody brightens, rain melts the snow, guitar notes sparkle, something like love shines through, and it winds up sounding joyful indeed, in a hard-won way.

The whole No Depression thing was funny to us because people seemed to forget that Jeff was a bigger punk-rock fan than a country fan. It led to things like us all switching instruments on “Misunderstood,” where I’m playing guitar.

It’s an effective way of recreating that surprise that you would get from buying a record just from the album cover and taking it home. I find stuff all the time that I’ve never heard of, that I don’t have any understanding of where it’s from or why somebody put it out. I’m almost always excited about Fridays. It seems miraculous to me.


TWEEDY: I’ve seen criticism where I get blamed for restraining you, or underutilizing your ability. And I don’t think that’s the case. You do so much of that expressive type of playing in your own work. Maybe I’m wrong, but I always felt like, after a while of being in the band, one of the things you really liked about coming to Wilco recordings was getting to play in a nuanced and textural way.

After three Jeff Tweedy solo records and a memoir , Wilco’s first album since 2016 arrives like a reunion. It sounds like one too: simple, straightforward songs, most with acoustic guitar at the core, other melodic tendrils and rhythms and harmonic drones curling up like ivy, a long-running conversation being picked up, slow but sure. The sound recalls Sky Blue Sky, the very first album by the band’s current lineup, and the spirit definitely feels informed by its bandleader’s recent path: Tweedy’s deep dive into Tweedy. These are all positives. Ode To Joy shows off some of Wilco’s prettiest and most comforting songs, Tweedy’s enlarged heart transplanted back into a band — its lineup now unchanged for roughly half of its 25-year history — that’s never sounded more empathic.

We talked to Tweedy about the new album, his previous trips to Dallas and why he thinks the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is a whole lot of hooey. Wilco returns with Special Guests Dickie. Catch the band at the Paramount Theatre on November 15th, for its first tour in nearly two years.

Wilco returned to their loft in Chicago to record a sixth studio album in 2006. Influenced by The Byrds and Fairport Convention , the band considered Sky Blue Sky to be less experimental than previous releases. 67 Also unlike previous albums, the songs were created as collaborations.

On the other hand, something like I Am Trying to Break Your Heart ” is not that different from the quietness and starkness of some of these songs. And I imagine that’s something that a lot of people want to hear every night.

Retreating from the experimental orgy of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Wilco turned A Ghost Is Born (Nonesuch, 2004) into their most pensive, introspective, melancholy album. The experiments (the lengthy guitar-heavy prog-rock rumination of Spiders and the lengthy Neil Young-ian coda of Less Than You Think) sound out of context, and a bit indulgent (their length is unjustified, other than to fill the disc). The poppy tunes (Hummingbird, Muzzle of Bees) are just that: trivial pop. The rest is uniformly Wilco-esque, i.e. dejavu. The album was the band’s greatest commercial success, entering the top-1o charts.

After a two-year break – triggered by their drummer Glenn Kotche relocating to Finland so his wife could pursue a Fulbright scholarship – Wilco have returned with an imminent 11th album, the brazenly titled Ode to Joy, but the six-piece sound so fluid and relaxed it is as if they have never been away. During their furlough, Tweedy published a vivid and bracing memoir, Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back), and it perhaps feels as if he is done with small talk: with his curls tucked into a dark beanie hat, he limits his audience interactions to the odd wave and a cheery We’ve got a lot to get through!” during a crammed two-hour set.

In 2014, John Stirratt ‘s side project the Autumn Defense released a new album, Fifth, and Jeff Tweedy inaugurated a new project, Tweedy , that found him collaborating with his teenage son Spencer, who played drums and percussion. The family band released their first album, Sukierae, in September 2014, with the combo touring in support. The year 2014 also marked Wilco’s 20th anniversary, and the group celebrated the event with a pair of archival releases: What’s Your Twenty? Essential Tracks 1994-2014, a two-disc set that collected the band’s best and most popular tunes, and Alpha Mike Foxtrot: Rare Tracks 1994-2014, a four-disc set of obscure and unreleased material. Wilco also celebrated their first two decades with a series of multi-night stands in several cities, including a six-night residency at the Riviera Theater in Chicago.

Wilco return with Ode to Joy, out October 4th via dBpm Records. Ode to Joy comes three-plus years after the release of the world-weary, wheezy – and wonderfully warm” (The Guardian) Schmilco, and encourages the act of finding joy in a dark political climate. The album presents a unique rhythm track and a minimalist instrumentation, with lyrics at once observant, hopeful, morbid, tolerant, and abstract. Love is Everywhere (Beware),” the album’s extrospective lead single, is an upbeat, guitar-driven track that explores the dual joy and threat of a community focused on love. Jeff Tweedy discusses it below.

Since then, Tweedy has maintained a prolific if uneven creative output. Besides two Wilco albums (2015’s restlessly scrappy Star Wars and 2016’s elongated sigh Schmilco ), he made a double-LP with his son (2014’s Sukierae), recorded new acoustic versions of his old classics (2017’s Together At Last), and released a pair of proper solo records (2018’s WARM and this year’s WARMER). He also ramped up his production work for other artists, embarked on an assortment of fun extracurriculars , and wrote a revelatory memoir that cemented his reputation as the former all-star who’s still good for a home run here and there but whose greatest value is his presence in the dugout.

I purchased a 1 acre lot from Wilco Land in march of 2016. This was my first time purchasing land and i had many questions. Tom and Miles answered all of them very thoroughly. A lot places you call do not answer the phone, not these guys, always there when i had questions. I am so glad i bought from to earth to deal with. Highly recommend.

Tempers flared between Bragg and Wilco after the album was completed. Bennett believed that Bragg was overproducing his songs, a sharp contrast to Wilco’s sparser contributions. Bennett called Bragg about the possibility of remixing Bragg’s songs, to which Bragg responded “you make your record, and I’ll make mine, fucker.” Eventually Bragg sent copies of his recordings to Chicago for Bennett to remix, but Bragg refused to use the new mixes on the album. The two parties were unable to establish a promotional tour and quarreled over royalties and guest musician fees.


TWEEDY: It isn’t as true now. Now, there seems to be some sort of core audience that is willing to go along with whatever permutations are gonna happen. They’ve been conditioned, or one of the things they like about the band is they expect it to not be the same, and it’s not.

Amazing show, as usual. As Tweedy admitted, possibly the best London gig they ever had. This time around, audience was somehow awake and actually took part into the show.

If you weren’t paying close attention, you might have thought Wilco had turned into a joke. In 2015, with a legacy already clinched as one of the great rock groups of their era, Jeff Tweedy and his woolly band of friends called their ninth studio album Star Wars , put a kitschy painting of a house cat on its cover, and released it for free, with no advance promotion. The following year, they gave their next album an even sillier cover and dubbed it Schmilco, an apparent nod to a songwriting hero, but also a sneer at the very idea that Wilco or its legacy were worth caring about.

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (Nonesuch, 2002), named after a track off the legendary Conet Project, and originally released on the Internet in 2001 after being rejected by their label, is Wilco’s experimental album, all eccentric arrangements and skewed melodies. This majestic nonsense blends late, spaced-out Byrds and Sticky Fingers-era Stones (I Am Trying To Break Your Heart, in which a dissonant carillon of toy piano eventually coalesces into a soaring melody), Lalena-era Donovan and She’s So Cold-era Stones (Kamera), Kinks and Todd Rundgren (Heavy Metal Drummer), catchy Mersey-sound and noisy rhythm’n’blues (I’m the Man Who Loves You), Grateful Dead and Simon & Garfunkel (War on War), Steely Dan and Fleetwood Mac (Jesus), etc etc.

Glenn Kotche is an American drummer and composer, best known for his involvement in the band Wilco. He was named the 40th greatest drummer of all time by Gigwise in 2008.

Imo lord huron is so much more talented then wilco that was why i went to the concert. Im a die hard LH fan. Wilco sounded pretty good but they were sorta on the boring side.

TWEEDY: Everything across the board is better from my perspective, for a lot of different reasons. Wilco really only had one record as part of a buzz cycle, maybe two. I’ve always felt a little bit outside of whatever cool-kid moment there is. I don’t know if other people see it that way. But even Uncle Tupelo at the time wasn’t cool, compared to Dinosaur Jr. or something like that.

The band’s catalog includes 2002’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (named one of the 500 greatest albums of all time by Rolling Stone), 2005’s Grammy award-winning A Ghost is Born, the Grammy-nominated Wilco (The Album) and The Whole Love and more. NPR has called Wilco the best rock band in America” and the band has been heralded by the Los Angeles Times as an amazing machine whose six players seem more at one with their music than any rock group working today.” The Wilco catalog includes Mermaid Avenue Volumes 1, 2 and 3, which, in collaboration with British folk singer Billy Bragg, sets original music to song lyrics by the iconic Woody Guthrie.


Rated 5 out of 5 by duncanpaul from First time First time I’ve seen Wilco live. And they didn’t disappoint. A fine tuned live act, none of the pretentious showmanship of bigger bands. A great night listening to great music.

I had many reservations as this was my first time buying land. Miles Mc​L​aughlin and Tom Willis did a great job and thoroughly answered all my questions as best they could. Wilco appears to be an honest, knowledgeable, professional and trustworthy business that truly tries to do right by their customers. I would not have any issues with buying land from these guys again.

And after one or two songs like that, the deconstruction of every song was going to be as primal as it could be, and as sonic as it could be—without being at all cognizant or worried about anybody’s perception of it being a showcase for musical ability.

The band has released two videos including two live sessions of If Ever I Was A Child” and Normal American Kids”, recorded in Utrecht in November 2016 while they were touring in Europe.

The two records were like opposite sides of a coin: the first full of skronky asymmetrical power-pop that channeled the boundless possibility of childhood, the second a mellow meditation on bygone youth from the perspective of middle age. They were fine additions to the Wilco catalog, but to appreciate them, you had to get past the goofball presentation and actually listen.

That’s pretty much the strategy of Ode To Joy, and it unspools accordingly. I remember when wars would end,” Tweedy sings on Before Us,” meditating on his forebears, maybe departed, joined by a gang who deliver the chorus like a Christmas carol. Themes from his memoir flicker through the set — here, the loss of his parents; on the somberly strummy One And A Half Stars,” anxiety, recovery from an addiction to painkillers, and a tendency towards excessive napping.

The standouts of Wilco (The Album) (Nonesuch, 2009) are the placid country-rock lament You And I, You Never Know (drenched in pummeling-piano emphasis a` la Bruce Springsteen ), and Wilco The Song the archetype for the diligent and accomplished pop tunes of the album (with a rhythmic progression worthy of the Rolling Stones and a soaring hook). The hidden gem might be Solitaire, a barely audible confession embedded in the most naked ambience of the album. However, the tenderly subdued Deeper Down and the slightly neurotic Bull Black Nova are emblematic of how the band stretches simple ideas to the limit in the least spontaneous of manners. The slow ballad Country Disappeared and the languid elegy Everlasting Everything are second-rate muzak.

I’m fine with the idea that fans jump off and find other things, and I think there is a distinct likelihood that as a band gets older, you have some gentle decline in audience size. But I don’t have any intentions of surrendering to that. Every time I make a record, I’m invigorated by the notion that we can reach out and connect with someone new. We always have something to prove. We always feel energized by people betting against us.

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