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Wilco - A Ghost Is Born - Nonesuch

Wilco is a difficult yet intelligent band that demands your love and attention. They can be equally frustrating and exhilarating, and are one of the last remaining artistically challenging and interesting American bands.

For the uninitiated, Wilco was born from the ashes of the alternative-country band Uncle Tupelo when lead singers/songwriter Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy split in 1994. Farrar went on to form Son Volt; Tweedy - Wilco. Uncle Tupelo’s roots were in Hank Williams and punk rock and where Son Volt stayed true to their alt-country leanings, Wilco detoured in to psychedelia, ELO (Electric Light Orchestra) styled power pop and experimental musings.

Wilco is the American equivalent to Radiohead; what Thom Yorke and his colleagues have created by continuously exploring and experimenting, and challenging traditional pop songwriting structure, Tweedy and his bandmates have done over their five album career (not including their collaborative efforts with Billy Bragg, the two Mermaid Avenue albums). If Wilco’s last album – the very acclaimed Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, was what OK Computer was to Radiohead, then Ghost is Wilco’s Kid A, a uniquely different variation on Wilco’s musical isolationism but still clearly connected to Wilco’s canon of work and progress.

The sound and color and mood of Ghost is different than Wilco’s Yankee. It’s marked by less albeit different noise and a dusty sparseness. The epic song “Spiders” is Tweedy’s “Cortez The Killer” where it meets Kraftwerk-like minimalism that drones with infectious drive. Songs like “Hummingbird,” and “Theologians” evoke the early charm and organic warmth of the classic “Brown” album by The Band. “Company In My Back” is a dreamy Paul McCartney-esque song that could have fit in well on Ram (Note: for all of you home DJ’s this could segue nicely in to “Uncle Albert/Albert Halsey.”)

Beware however, the 15 minute drone of noise and wierd sounds on the second to the last song on the album, track 11, "Less Than You Think," a song that might not ever get played on the radio. But that song shouldn't get lost in the irony: "Less Than You Think" comes before the album's last song “The Late Greats,” about a fictional indie-rock band called The Late Greats and their song "Turpentine" which Tweedy refers to as "the greatest lost track of all time/you can't hear it on the radio/you can't hear it anywhere you go."

Returning with producer/multi-instrumentalist Jim O’Rourke, Tweedy and his mates have delivered yet another great and gratifying effort.

Release Date: 6/22/2004

Written by Bruce Warren

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