Tag Archives: Alternative

The Full Picture: Wilco

Before there was Wilco, there was an alternative country band named Uncle Tupelo which enjoyed moderate success with the dual lead singers Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy. The issue with Uncle Tupelo proved to be that the label “dual” only ended up being true in terms of song credits because Farrar and Tweedy grew to detest each other as they spent more time in the project, continuing up until Farrar decided to quit the band in 1994. This left the remaining group members in a bit of an awkward situation, but likely one that Tweedy was glad to find himself in as all of the other members of Uncle Tupelo sans-Farrar decided to stick with him post-split. The band got renamed to Wilco, a purposefully ironic term which is short for “Will Comply”, and released their debut album A.M. in 1995.

Wilco- A.M. (1995)
Wilco- A.M. (1995)

A.M. stayed true to the alternative-country sound that the band had been accustomed to playing in Uncle Tupelo in many ways, but don’t get that classification confused with the travesty of what is today called country. It was more Americana then that and by many accounts a successful debut album for the group which lent the band some credibility that they would still be releasing good music. Tweedy took over full ownership for vocals and song-writing, but a lot of people at the time held the opinion that Wilco would prove to be the less successful group in comparison to Farrar’s new project Son Volt and their better reviewed debut Trace.

Top Tracks: “Box Full of Letters“, “That’s Not the Issue“, “I Must Be High

Wilco- Being There (1996)
Wilco- Being There (1996)

The opening track for Being There is named “Misunderstood”, and that track is infinitely more ambitious than anything that A.M. could claim. The message is sent that the band was going to try and take a step away from their previous sound and try to create a more meaningful brand of music, and it was met with better reviews and more album sales than their debut, an impressive feat for a double album which was written and recorded in the span of a year. In hindsight I actually end up preferring to listen to their debut over this, but the reason for that is because in terms of Wilco’s discography they went on to progress way past what was being accomplished on Being There. Still, this album served as a good starting point for the sound which would evolve into Summerteeth.

Track Picks: “Misunderstood“, “Forget the Flowers“, “The Lonely 1

Mermaid Avenue
Billy Bragg & Wilco- Mermaid Avenue (1998)

Mermaid Avenue was a projected that started when Woody Guthrie’s daughter approached Billy Bragg and asked him to record songs using a collection of never-before-recorded lyrics which Guthrie had composed. Bragg obliged and recruited Wilco to help out with the project, and today it’s actually evolved to include Mermaid Avenue, Mermaid Avenue Vol. II, and Mermaid Avenue Vol. III (which get combined into the box set Mermaid Avenue: The Complete Sessions). Good recordings to listen to, but unfortunately not-overly significant for the purpose of this article as it was a two artist collaboration where neither one was responsible for the lyrics.
Continue reading The Full Picture: Wilco

Sufjan Stevens says it’s time for Christmas

Sufjan Stevens has just released the second Christmas EP box set of his career, Silver & Gold: Songs for Christmas, Volumes 6-10. Stevens started his career as a pretty straight forward indie folk artist but his sound has progressed to include electronic aspects to the point where his latest album can hardly be defined as folk at all. This collection consists of covers of classic christmas tunes that Stevens works with to make them sound like Age of Adz outtakes mixed with some original music, and it serves as a tremendous way to get into the holiday spirit. To hear all the songs I was once in love with because of the associations they carried be torn apart and rebuilt into electronic pop is wonderful, and it leads to a product that makes the transition to the holiday season more welcome than ever.

Click to learn more about each volume Continue reading Sufjan Stevens says it’s time for Christmas

B-fargz top ten of 2010

2010 blew. For real. I graduated, had to go back to a job I hated four
years ago when I started it, could not longer be a WCDB DJ, and did I
mention I graduated? Anyway, 2010 was a pretty awesome year for music.
Here’s my favorites. So here’s to you 2011, because if it sucks anymore
than 2010, it’s Snooki at the Superbowl.

1. Iron Chic – Not Like This: This album took the top spot from Titus kind
of unexpectedly. There’s a raw honestly, and positivity to this band that
just isn’t seen anymore. Lyrically they’re fantastic and they’re fun live.
Great, great band.

2. Titus Andronicus – The Monitor: So, hey, let’s make a concept record
about the civil war happening today in New Jersey! What? Really? That was
my reaction to the idea, but it ended up being a pretty good idea. This
album is awesome. The singer is clearly wasted on some tracks, and the
passion this band conveys is literally unreal. I’m still kicking myself
for missing them at Valentine’s.

3. The Gaslight Anthem –  American Slang: Anyone who followed my WCDB
Career knows how much I love this band. This record was no disappointment.
The guys are maturing and making their own headway now, and I couldn’t be
happier for them. Radio City Music hall was literally PACKED with fans.
They rule. Awesome dudes.

4. Off With Their Heads –  In Desolation: People complain that this record
is too polished. Fuck you. If it sounded dirty you’d say it wasn’t
authentic because they get a huge budget from Epitaph. So yeah. Really
depressing lyrics, with up tempo pop-punk akin to D4. I love it. You
probably don’t.

5. Make Do and Mend – End Measured Mile: So Small Brown Bike broke up a
while ago and I was sad. Hot Water Music also broke up and I was sad. If
these bands didn’t get back together this band would have almost filled
the void. These guys tour relentlessly and are a real gem. Check this shit
out

6. Crime In Stereo – I Was Trying to Describe You To Someone: This is
radically different from anything these guys had done, and it’s wonderful.
There are no synthesizers on the entire record, and everyone sound and
tone is made through effects and whatnot, but no pre-recorded nonsense.
It’s a terrible shame they broke up—it’s an even bigger shame that I
wasn’t let into the last show even though I had a ticket. Still waiting
for that make up show, guys.

7. End of a Year – You Are Beneath Me: Albany’s take on dischord era
nonsense. This band is criminally underrated and this record solidified
that to me. Awesome shows, awesome record, and Pat’s advice blog is funny.

8. RVIVR – LP: It has ex-members of Latterman and female vox. Get into it!

9. Rocky Votilato – True Devotion: I loved falling asleep to this album. I
wish Rocky wasn’t so sad though. Wompwompwaaaah

10. Sister Kisser – Vipers: Gruff melodic pop-punk from long island. There
must be something in the water down here, because the scene’s coming back
(kind of).

What almost certainly would have made this list if I didn’t hear it so late:
Deerhunter – Halcyon Daze
Defiance, Ohio – Midwestern Minutes

Honorable Mention:

The State Lottery – When the night comes
Circa Survive – Blue Sky Noise
Wax Phantom –  Don’t Fool With A Phantom

Bands that will be huge next year:
Captain, We’re Sinking
Make Do and Mend
Touche Amore
Daytrader

EPs:
Rvivr – dirty water
iAttention!
Captain, We’re Sinking
All Pigs Must Die

Biggest Let Down:
Broken Social Scene – When the last record came out I literally couldn’t
stop listening to it. This record couldn’t have been more forgettable

Record Label:
Panic Records

Band I Can’t Figure out if I like:
The Wonder Years

Band I still Don’t Get:
The Arcade Fire – their albums aren’t bad, I just don’t see the second
coming of Christ in them.

Saddest Break up:
Crime in Stereo

Best show:
Rvivr/SIster Kisser
The Gaslight Anthem at Radio City
Crime In Stereo in Brooklyn / Troubled Stateside show on Long Island

Most Anticipated Releases:
The Agent
Rivivr
Radiohead (?)
The Lawrence Arms
Touche Amore
Bane
Owen
Lemuria
Japandroids

Many of these albums are available for free at ifyoumakeit.com. You should
check that site out. Seriously. There’s a lot of good shit on there. Why
are you still reading this? GO!