Tuesday, November 23rd, 2004
A Notebook Full Of White Dry Pages
I got my copy of The Wilco Book yesterday, and it’s quite an interesting read. A collection of essays, photographs and a sort of guided tour around the world of Wilco, it seems overly arty and pretentious at first glance, but when you sit down and start reading it, you realize that’s just the presentation and the content is actually quite illuminating. You get a moderately in-depth look at the Wilco loft and their equipment, a behind-the-scenes account of life on tour from the band and their techs and a peak at their in-studio creative process. I’m not quite finished yet, but as a fan I’m finding it fascinating. As far as getting into the heads of the band and what makes them tick, it’s more revealing than I Am Trying To Break Your Heart was as it skips over the business and politics and gets right to the art.
I admit that I originally wanted the package more for the 40-minute CD of demos and unreleased tracks that accompanies the book, but that was overestimating the value of the music and grossly underestimating the printed piece. The CD is quite effective as a soundtrack for the book – yes, I made sure to read the latter while listening to the former – but standalone it’s only mildly interesting in an academic sense. Primarily instrumental and with only some of those tracks really qualifying as “songs”. The demos of Ghost tracks “Pure Bug Beauty” and “Hummingbird” are quite nice, but pieces like the closing “Hamami” are little more than sonic experiments. Still, track-by-track liner notes in the appendices go a long way to explaining what the artistic intent was behind each song and give them a certain value, if not listenability. Overall, I’m pleasantly surprised – I half-expected this to be a bit of a rip-off, but it’s really not. Order it from Amazon.ca for a reasonable $25 CDN.
And as a tangentially-related side note, I was listening to the recording of Wilco’s show in Toronto this past October and was tickled to notice that in “Handshake Drugs”, Nels Cline quotes few bars of Tom Verlaine’s “Marquee Moon” solo in one of his guitar breaks. I only really noticed because I was trying to learn the same solo this past weekend. Nels does it better.
It’s the album that just won’t die. A third single from The Postal Service’s Give Up will be released on February 8, more than two years after the album was released. Is that a record of some kind? We Will Become Silhouettes will be b-sided by one new song and two remixes. Billboard has complete details. I’m really amazed at how The Postal Service has trundled along, becoming SubPop’s second-best selling album of all time (behind Nirvana’a Bleach). I guess the USPS motto holds true for the band as well – “Neither snow, nor rain, nor blackest night, no evil will escape their sight–” No wait, that’s the Green Lantern Corps. I always mix them up.
Mogwai have a live mp3 of “2 Rights Make 1 Wrong” performed at this year’s ATP Festival available for download. My favourite Mogwai song ever. Sometimes I just put it on, turn it up and close my eyes.
New Order have confirmed their still-untitled next album will be out in February. I have the date of February 22 jotted down though I’m not sure exactly where that came from.
Does anyone remember the Billy & The Boingers: Bootleg Bloom County compendium from 1987? If so, you may recall that the book came with a flexidisc single (that’s for record players, kids – turntables) featuring two songs from the Bill The Cat-led band… Well having never owned the book, I never got a chance to hear the tunes. But now, seventeen years later and thanks to the magic of the internets, I can finally rectify that… And you know what? They’re really not very good. Not that I’m surprised. Listen for yourself. I guess I shouldn’t have been expecting Pet Sounds or something… Get it? Pet Sounds? Bill the Cat? Ha!
np – Stars / Set Yourself On Fire