Thursday, September 23rd, 2004
Picking Up The Signal
I know it’s a bit obvious to anyone who reads this site that I’m a big Wilco booster, but I like to think that I give the other half of Uncle Tupelo props wherever I can. For instance, here’s some of the biggest Jay Farrar news in years: Son Volt is back.
It’s been six years since Wide Swing Tremolo, and it seemed a foregone conclusion that Jay had closed the book on his second band and was going to stick it out as a solo artist. Sebastapol was patchy but I thought Terroir Blues was pretty damn good. Having just gotten the Stone, Steel & Bright Lights live record this weekend, I was pleased to hear Jay sounding more energetic than he has in a while, which I credited to the presence of Canyon as his backing band. I has assumed that in them, he’d found his own personal Crazy Horse and would be making his next record with them. I guess his relationship with them is a little more like Neil Young’s with his off-and-on backing band than I expected as he turned around and went right back to Son Volt. I guess working with the old boys earlier this year on a track for the Alejandro Escovedo tribute album agreed with him.
The party line is that while Trace kicked A.M.‘s ass in the battle of the post-Uncle Tupelo debuts, Jay hasn’t come close to reaching those same heights with any of his subsequent works whereas Jeff Tweedy’s artistry has grown at an almost exponential rate. And I’m not going to dispute this, even for the sake of argument. I will, however, disagree with the notion that Jay’s well has run dry or that he doesn’t have at least another great record in him. I liked all of Son Volt’s albums and no, they weren’t as good as Trace but that was a damn-near perfect record. As I mentioned earlier, his solo stuff had a few more stumbles in it but I attribute that more to him finding his legs in an unfamiliar situation. I don’t see him going back to Son Volt as a step backwards but as a regrouping before taking the next leap forwards – I’d love nothing more than if he came out with something that really surprised everyone who’d written him off. Time will tell, I suppose – time and the webcam. Starting October 1 Jay’s website will be offering a live video feed from their studio covering one day of pre-production and 16 days of recording. I doubt I’ll remember to tune in but that’s because I’m flaky.
And as a footnote, I’m glad to see the number of media outlets, blog or otherwise, who find this newsworthy or are as excited about it as I – see Jay? People do still care. Don’t disappoint us.
And in further ‘trying to find the muse of the mid-90s’ news, Evan Dando is going to re-form the Lemonheads. He’s been spending the last few years doing solo stuff and making an ass of himself on the DKT/MC5 tour. On his departure from that tour, he says “I need to finish writing the next Lemonheads record. The MC5 tour inspired me greatly and I’m now ready to get back to working on my own music,” which is code for “Wayne Kramer threatened to beat the snot out of me if I didn’t get my ass off the stage for good”.
Neil Young is releasing a greatest hits compilation creatively title Greatest Hits on November 16. Tellingly, it features a grand total of two tracks released after 1979 – Neil’s not kidding anyone, though an argument could be made for including “This Note’s For You” or something from Ragged Glory. Really of interest only to the most casual of music fans, die-hards may still want to pay attention as there will be a deluxe edition that comes with a companion DVD. Undercover has the CD track list and some commentary, but nothing on the DVD. Quit stalling, Neil – give us the Archives.
Gram Parsons fans may want to take note that Safe At Home, the only album from his pre-Byrds outfit The International Submarine Band will be re-released on November 23. I don’t know if it’s out of print – I’m assuming so – but either way, it’ll be out again.
Support for Ted Leo & The Pharmacists’ December 5 show at the Mod Club will be Matt Pond PA and Vague Angels, Chris Leo’s new band, Chris being Ted’s brother. Tickets will be $12 whenever they end up going on sale.
np – Neutral Milk Hotel / In The Aeroplane Over The Sea