For just over a decade (between the mid ’90s and the mid ’00s) Wilco was one of the most interesting “indie” rock bands in the world – they changed their sound (nearly) every album, from roots rock to pop to post rock to classic rock revival. And then they got comfortable. For the last decade or so, they’ve been making very pleasant pop rock with only the odd hints of their more interesting past. (This is different live, where they have remained edgy.) I have felt like the last few albums were the first time the band settled for something.
But with “EKG,” the startling, brief, raw opener to this surprise album, you are immediately alerted that maybe Tweedy et al. have become restless with this new comfort zone. This is the rawest, least polished, most shambolic, most “indie” thing they’ve recorded in well over a decade. (Frankly, it might be the rawest thing they’ve ever recorded.) The meticulous arrangements are gone (as are keyboards, for the most part).
But the tossed off feel is more of an arrangement / production characteristic, I think. Though hardly the best set of Tweedy songs ever, they’re still strong. And the brevity of the album, and the clear lack of polish (and rehearsals!) is actually endearing, given how surprising this whole thing is. (I certainly wasn’t expecting this. I’d rather have 30 minutes of new music than no new music.)
Honestly – I am being completely genuine here – my favourite thing they’ve released since Sky Blue Sky.
All songs written by Jeff Tweedy, except where noted.
- “EKG” 1:15
- “More…” 2:44
- “Random Name Generator” 3:49
- “The Joke Explained” 2:33
- “You Satellite” (Tweedy, Glenn Kotche, Nels Cline) 5:16
- “Taste the Ceiling” (Tweedy, Scott McCaughey) 3:15
- “Pickled Ginger” 2:29
- “Where Do I Begin” 2:54
- “Cold Slope” 3:11
- “King of You” 2:41
- “Magnetized” (Tweedy, Mikael Jorgensen) 3:40
- Jeff Tweedy – acoustic guitar, electric guitar, vocals
- John Stirratt – bass, acoustic guitar, vocals
- Glenn Kotche – drums, percussion
- Mikael Jorgensen – keyboards
- Nels Cline – electric guitar, loops
- Patrick Sansone – electric guitar, keyboards, vocals
- Spencer Tweedy – additional percussion
- Scott McCaughey – Mellotron and piano on “Taste the Ceiling”