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A Ghost is Born
by: Sun-J

Wilco has transgressed much from the strictly alt. country days of A.M.. Over the years it seems they have been digested by the avant-garde movement. 2001's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was a small diversion in their path. YHF was in fact an unconventional pop album representing fractured Americana. Since YHF, Wilco has undergone binary fission. Multi instrumentalist Jay Bennet took off leaving Jeff Tweedy as the sole inheritor to the very first Wilco album. Since then, it has been a strong-forced torque of characters, most notable, newly crowned Sonic Youth member, multi-instrumentalist/producer Jim O'Rourke.

With this year's release, A Ghost is Born, Wilco have seemed to completely ditch the alt. country rock for an album filled with classic rock structures precluded by piano driven rhythm. The album opens with "At Least That's What You Said," a track beginning with piano and acoustic guitar. Tweedy croons, "You're irresistible when you get mad, isn't it sad, I'm immune, I thought it was cute for you to kiss my purple black eye, even though I caught it from you, I still think we're serious..." The track has echoes of Neil Young as the drums ridden with anxiety build tension. The best thing about this track, is its concept. It is ironically a happy song about domestic abuse (quick, someone phone Jason Kidd). "Hell is Chrome" has Pink Floyd written all over with its slow opening transitioning into a strong guitar solo. "Spiders (Kidsmoke)" features a digital techno beat with keyboard loops, and off rhythm acoustic guitar plucking. On "Muzzle of Bees" Tweedy lays down a stellar guitar solo while on "Hummingbird" modulates with undulating frequency. "Wishful Thinking" is filled with colorful textures and convoluted lyrics, "Fill up your mind with all it can know, don't forget that your body can't let it go, fill up your mind with all it can know, because what would love be without wishful thinking?..." "Company in My Back" has an infectious hook which appropriately leads directly to the first single. "I'm a Wheel," two and a half minutes of The Strokes influenced instrumentation. "Theologians" is a piano inspired pop ballad mimicking much of what The Beatles had already accomplished while "Less Than You Think" couldn't have had a better name. The track is sixteen minutes, but really it feels like only fifteen and a half minutes (cue drum roll, and joke sound: buddumpum pssshhhhh). The album ends with "Late Greats," and though the song is one of the stronger tracks, by the end of "Less Than You Think" your head is ringing more than one of Jeff Tweedy's migraines (joke sound: buddumpum pssshhhhh). Though Tweedy man not have had to with the migraines and possible pain killer addictions media types has led us to believe, he has put together a collective album summarizing all of Wilco's non-alt. country influences. At times the tracks play themselves out with their lengths, but as always, there is one way to end the repetition, hit fast forward. This album was highly touted, but doesn't cover enough new ground for me to call it better than Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Still, nonetheless, another solid outing from Mr. Tweedy and his cronies.


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