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Wilco - Cruel Country - New Album


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There's something uncharacteristically on the nose about hearing Jeff Tweedy singing the words "red, white, and blue". This could be a hint of an album that dispenses with exploring the American mythos through abstraction, like the band often has, and instead states ideas plainly.

 

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I'm having a complicated reaction to this album that seems to be rooted in competing sensors and expectations. Most of all, I respond to Wilco's multifaceted muse; I love both chaotic and folksy

So, thoughts on the album - it's a bit on the long side:   I'll be upfront and say that I'm simply thankful for Cruel Country because it's given us "Country Song Upside Down". When this land

It's hard to express how deeply I love this new album and can't wait to hear it at Solid Sound. I've been hoping Wilco would do a "country" album for a long time, but the direction of the past three m

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7 hours ago, lost highway said:

There's something uncharacteristically on the nose about hearing Jeff Tweedy singing the words "red, white, and blue". This could be a hint of an album that dispenses with exploring the American mythos through abstraction, like the band often has, and instead states ideas plainly.

 

 

The songwriting of Fallin Apart, as well as other new tracks that he's played live or on the Tweedy show definitely have a more finely pointed direction than say the haphazard poetry of a song like I Might.

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33 minutes ago, chisoxjtrain said:

"Tired of Taking It Out On You" is gorgeous. Love the melody and chord progressions.

 

Yes. It does that magic thing of being totally a quintessential Wilco vibe, without sounding like any of their many other songs in particular. When the guitar lead and "oooohs" kick in..... yeah.

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Oh my word. What a beautiful song. Can't wait for 27th May....and Im fortunate enough to have tickets for San Sebastian. Driving all the way from Durham, UK via Rouen and Bordeaux, then Biarritz and La Rochelle on the home. Woo woo !

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Not crazy about this new one.  Might be incredible in context of the album, but on its own it strikes me as a pretty generic “new Wilco” song.  As a teaser track, it doesn’t have me rushing to the cash register.
 

I did like Faliing Apart quite a bit.  Haven’t heard the other songs yet, but I’d be happier if Falling Apart, and not this song, is more representative of the new album.

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2 hours ago, jff said:

Not crazy about this new one.  Might be incredible in context of the album, but on its own it strikes me as a pretty generic “new Wilco” song.  As a teaser track, it doesn’t have me rushing to the cash register.
 

I did like Faliing Apart quite a bit.  Haven’t heard the other songs yet, but I’d be happier if Falling Apart, and not this song, is more representative of the new album.

I like "Falling Apart" quite a lot, and my biggest fear is that the rest of the album will be more "Wilco by the numbers" like their recent albums that I'll soon forget and never return to after listening a couple of times. I'm intentionally avoiding the other new songs so I'll have something extra to look forward to at Solid Sound, and I hope my fears won't come true. 

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47 minutes ago, Boss_Tweedy said:

“Wilco by the numbers" like their recent albums that I'll soon forget and never return to

That’s a good way to reword what I mean by “new Wilco.”  Jeff with backing band, rather than an ensemble where everyone’s contribution rises to a higher level than just support for the lead vocal.  

 

I feel like every Wilco album has songs that make the list of all time great Wilco songs. But nothing on Schmilco or Ode rises to that level for me, no matter how many listens I give them.  
 

I hope the new record breaks that pattern.

 

 

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10 hours ago, jff said:

Not crazy about this new one.  Might be incredible in context of the album, but on its own it strikes me as a pretty generic “new Wilco” song.  As a teaser track, it doesn’t have me rushing to the cash register.
 

I did like Faliing Apart quite a bit.  Haven’t heard the other songs yet, but I’d be happier if Falling Apart, and not this song, is more representative of the new album.

Just heard the new one, and I have the opposite reaction! I liked "Falling Apart" OK, but "Tired of Taking it Out on You" is just exquisite.

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I had a new thought relistening to Falling Apart today in light of the "live studio takes" details in the press release.

 

I suspect the baritone guitar solo is Nels and the later phaser tele solo is Pat. I might be wrong, but if it is would that be the first proper guitar solo by Pat on a Wilco record?

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15 hours ago, lost highway said:

I had a new thought relistening to Falling Apart today in light of the "live studio takes" details in the press release.

 

I suspect the baritone guitar solo is Nels and the later phaser tele solo is Pat. I might be wrong, but if it is would that be the first proper guitar solo by Pat on a Wilco record?


It’d be interesting to know, and I hope the liner notes will include these details.  Baritone as an instrument is probably more associated with Nels than Pat.  But baritone as part of the musical vocabulary of country music is a lot closer to Pat’s musical roots than Nels’.  Could go either way.

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16 hours ago, DiamondClaw said:

Just heard the new one, and I have the opposite reaction! I liked "Falling Apart" OK, but "Tired of Taking it Out on You" is just exquisite.


That seems to be the prevailing opinion.  I can’t pinpoint what it is about Tired… that isn’t doing it for me.  It’s a well made piece of music, and there’s nothing  bad about it. It’s just missing an intangible something that I’ve gotten from most of Wilco’s music in the past.  
 

Falling Apart…not the greatest song ever, but it’s pretty good and it came with an element of surprise, which is one of the definable things that I’ve (almost) always enjoyed about the band’s records.

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 A 19-song album of direct country songs (my assumption, based on the 2 new songs, along with the many Tweedy Show demos) feels fresh.

 

So many nice lyrics in the samplings I've heard. "Hearts Hard To Find" particularly stands out.

 

 

 

 

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Based on that review and the preview of the tracks I've heard so far, I'm getting very excited about the new album. For me, "Tired Of Taking It Out On You" expresses some of the things I liked the most about Sky Blue Sky and WTA. I really hear a lot of 90's/2000's Neil Young in it.  There's such a richness and warmth to these arrangements and Tweedy's singing with a really gritty, throaty, open-voiced tenor, which we haven't heard on record in AGES. The review's mentions of synths and a little skronk also allay any concerns I might have had about this being a one-note genre exercise. Bring it on!

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9 hours ago, jff said:


It’d be interesting to know, and I hope the liner notes will include these details.  Baritone as an instrument is probably more associated with Nels than Pat.  But baritone as part of the musical vocabulary of country music is a lot closer to Pat’s musical roots than Nels’.  Could go either way.

 

Read somewhere that it's definitely Pat on the left channel playing a Telecaster with a Parsons/White B-bender. Certainly suited more to Pat's background. Brilliant guitarist in my opinion, his 12-string solo on Emma Swift's Dylan cover of "Queen Jane Approximately" (Blonde On The Tracks) demonstrates just how good his sense of phrasing and space is. 

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13 hours ago, Blackberry Rust said:

 

Read somewhere that it's definitely Pat on the left channel playing a Telecaster with a Parsons/White B-bender. Certainly suited more to Pat's background. Brilliant guitarist in my opinion, his 12-string solo on Emma Swift's Dylan cover of "Queen Jane Approximately" (Blonde On The Tracks) demonstrates just how good his sense of phrasing and space is. 

Wow, I just played that track based on your comments. Beautiful! It really shows how talented Pat is. Hopefully he gets a chance to shine like this somewhere on Cruel Country.

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6 hours ago, DiamondClaw said:

Wow, I just played that track based on your comments. Beautiful! It really shows how talented Pat is. Hopefully he gets a chance to shine like this somewhere on Cruel Country.

Great! Yeah, it's got a very Byrds-y feel to it - really emulating Roger McGuinn's 12-string style.

 

Speaking of the Byrds, if I were to place a pin of where I think Cruel Country is sitting, what I've heard/read so far is firmly planting it in late-period 1969-1972 Byrds territory (Ballad of Easy Rider, Untitled, Byrdmaniax, Farther Along) with some Gram Parsons and Jackson Browne vibes. Given McGuinn and the Byrds are a big influence on Tweedy that's not really a surprise. A fifth pre-release track, "Country Song Upside-Down" just dropped behind the paywall on Starship Casual and it's gorgeous. If anything, corralling the whole band together in the studio for the first time in forever has worked wonders on the arrangements and overall quality of the songs. Stoked for this album. Stoked.

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Just now, coldasgasoline said:

And just like that country song upside down is up on starship casual and it’s gorgeous!!! 

 

I think it's the strongest of the bunch so far, and that's really saying something!

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^ Yep. Best one yet.

 

I generally dislike when songs have the word 'song' in their title, and almost always dislike a song that says the name of the genre that it is in the title. Somehow the premise of the lyrics makes me like how those traits work here.

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