Wilco: Schmilco (dBpm) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Sep 15, 2016 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Following hot on the heels of last year’s Beyoncé and Radiohead style surprise release Star Wars is this oddly-named follow-up, perhaps a direct nod to Harry Nilsson’s similarly titled Nilsson Schmilsson. On the surface, the two releases are quite similar. Both are short in length (under 40 minutes) and quite sparse in production style, almost going back to the style of 1996’s Being There on songs like “Nope” even if most of the other songs have much more in common with their 21st century output compositionally. On the other hand, while Star Wars has (at least relative for Wilco) caffeine blasts powered by Nels Cline’s guitar acrobatics such as “Random Name Generator,” Schmilco is much more understated and autumnal. Dominated by Jeff Tweedy’s vocals and acoustic guitar and Glenn Kotche’s drumming, you don’t even hear Cline’s immediately recognizable electric squall at all until the fourth track, “Common Sense.” As such, it requires concentration and effort and is best experienced late at night, but repeated listening provides some rewards here. “Cry All Day” is perhaps the album’s best track, sounding like a reworking of “War on War” from their 2002 breakthrough Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (their other career zenith alongside Being There). There are other highlights here, too, though. The opener “Normal American Kids” leads off the album with childhood memories and a declaration of outsider-dom perhaps leading to a life in music and “If I Ever Was a Child” follows it with more lyrical flashbacks. Another highlight is the creepy-sounding “Locator” and the relatively upbeat “We Aren’t the World (Safety Girl).” Ten albums and more than 20 years into their career, Wilco are still making great music. (www.wilcoworld.net)

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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