Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Tangled Tweedy Web

Okay, so I have a few artists/bands I have been listening to lately that most of you have probably been listening to for five or ten years and I am just catching up. Just bear with me and remember that this means that when you weigh in you get to be the smart ones! And, for those more behind than me, don’t worry, I will still provide context and links so you can check out all these good tunes as well!

For starters, I had every intention of writing about Ryan Adams and Whiskeytown who I have been listening to pretty heavily lately, but in that wonderful way that the web works, I started looking for others who were writing on Adams to see what they had to say and found this blog. On one hand, Payton has more reviews and information about Ryan Adams here than you can shake a stick at making one wonder if another post on Ryan Adams is going to be necessary, evah, but the real problem is that I got to reading this post on Jeff Tweedy, front man for Wilco—another band I am catching up with.

This post made me realize that there are these earlier Wilco related bands that I have no knowledge of but all sound interesting. Most notably the key here is Uncle Tupelo featuring Jeff Tweedy and Jay Farrar (although there is an earlier history to the whole story) who then decided they couldn’t stand each other and Farrar forms Son Volt while Tweedy and company become Wilco. Interesting.

So, over to the Pandora I go--where you all surely know that you load in artists or songs and the wonderful Pandora opens up its boxes and creates a radio station of sorts playing music that has similar qualities to those you chose—and throw in the Uncle Tupelo and Son Volt to one of my stations and happily go back to writing and tuning.

I hear a song that I don’t recognize, which is not an uncommon occurrence with Pandora, but this sounds like a really cool Wilco track so I look at who it is and lo and behold, it is . . . . Golden Smog! Good grief, who is Golden Smog? Turns out that this is yet another iteration of folks playing together occasionally that includes a few notable people that includes Tweedy up front part of the time.

So dear readers, where is a guy to start? Which iteration? Which discs? This includes Wilco. Wobs has been good enough to share Being There, Yankee Foxtrot Hotel, and Sky Blue Sky which are all quite fine and worthy of your time, although I am particularly fond of Sky Blue Sky with its cool 70’s vibe. In fact, as a bonus I am going to through in this performance of one of my favs on the album which is particularly pertinent since Neats (the wife for those who don’t know us) and the Boys are off at the grandparents.

Now I am not some “obsessive I have to have everything by an artist kind of a guy”—okay I was until I understood that bands make albums of different quality and my obsession was forcing me to by baaaaad albums. But surely someone will tell me where to start untangling the Tweedy web and what I should listen to . . .

I’m listening.


Lisa B. said...

I'm not a scholar of Tweedy, but do share your fondness for Sky Blue Sky, which is a great title, too. I often find myself thinking "Impossible Germany, unlikely Japan," because it's a beautiful melody and a great phrase.

CPS said...

Yeah--it is a great album all the way around I think (h/t to Wobs). I was just talking to my brother-in-law who saw two Wilco shows in Chicago and then saw them again with my sis in Cleveland and he was talking about how solid that album is as well.

It is interesting to come at a band in retrospect, or after they have a catalog as opposed to "growing up with them" --hmmm, I sense a whole new post there!

dr said...

Uncle Tupelo was huge in the town where I went to college. I think the consensus was that Anodyne was best. It has the hits.

wobblie said...

Anodyne is definitely my choice for the "essential" Uncle Tupelo album.

On top of that, check out Loose Fur with Tweedy, Jim O'Rourke, and Glenn Kotchke. Born Again in the USA is a fun listen

dr said...

Also, don't neglect the second Jay, Jay Bennett. There's even an AFT connection, because after leaving Wilco, he's gone on to collaborate with Edward Burch, who spent a couple of weeks on the K-LASER campaign. Boom!

CPS said...

Okay, so Anodyne goes on the list--anyone on the Son Volt front? And dr--what disc are you recommending here? The Palace? Is there something else?

Chris Diller said...

I don't know if y'all will read the archives, but kudos to Tweedy and company. Actually, one of my favorites is the one he did with the great British protest artist Billy Bragg: Mermaid Avenue. It is a tribute and look backward to Woody Guthrie and a look forward. Some haunting stuff--especially from Bragg--and one tune shows up on Kicking Television, Wilco's double live CD.