Wilco – Schmilco
I have a confession to make. I’ve never listened to a Wilco album. Wilco’s tenth album, Schmilco, was released September 9, 2016. I had the advantage of listening to this album without comparing it to any prior album. Since they are a very established alt-rock band, there were a plethora of interviews to reference.
“I think this record is ‘joyously negative,'” Jeff Tweedy said of the album. “It’s sad in a lot of ways, but not in any that reach a conclusion of doom or hopelessness. I just had a lot of fun being sour about the things that upset me.” – – Interview by Ryan Reed. Rolling Stone Magazine
Immediately, I felt I would like this album. After listening, I feel they are a musician’s band- very cerebral. The average listener won’t appreciate the subtleties: consistent tempos, combination of effects, or the tone of their guitars. These are precisely my favorite types of bands.
I was definitely not one of those “Normal American Kids,” but I never hated others for that. I couldn’t relate to the lyrics or point of view, probably because I spent my time alone instead of being grumpy.
“If Ever I was a Child” has beautiful guitars, organ (though it’s mixed a bit low for my taste), steel guitar, and concisely mellow vocals. I really liked how he hit the high “Iiiiiii.”
Despite the lyrics in “Cry All Day,” I have the feeling that the author is at peace with these thoughts. The music is experimental rock, poetic.
I definitely hear the Beatles influence all over the album, but especially on, “Someone to Lose.” The repetitive bass line, woozy sounding guitars, and silly lyrics. Upbeat tempo and simple melodies – classic.
“Happiness” is a seemingly happy-sounding song until you listen to the lyrics. Tweedy confesses that his mother thinks he’s great. He says this makes him sad because he thinks she genuinely believes that. Then he mentions she gave her body to science, and he knows the dead still listen.
“Quarters” is so experimental and odd. I loved the strange drums that popped in and out- super creative. No copy/pasting measures of beats here. I absolutely love the drums, and there is a hauntingly beautiful acoustic guitar outtro, accompanied with some equally tasty steel guitar. I listened to it three times in a row.
“Locator” is all about the “I” and “hide.” Though the song is not in your face rock, the tension and build of the “I” was deeply satisfying. I liked the range of dynamics from the build up and back down to the lows.
“Shrug and Destroy” reminded me of Crowded House. The music feels sad and lonely, like it needs a hug. “We Aren’t the World (Safety Girl)” was my least favorite song on the album, but the lyrics to the chorus made me chuckle. What. The. Heck.
I thought “Just Say Goodbye” was a bit weak as well. I like when bands choose a strong song to finish the album. The tempo was upbeat, but the melody didn’t grab me.
This is an album with no pretense — music to discover new details upon repeat. I’d love to hear what you think! Please leave a comment below.