Major league baseball teams have actually started playing for real down here. My beloved Phillies have already seen their biggest free agent acquisition go under the knife. But at least Ryan Howard, $10 million richer, is already hitting tape measure home runs. And the Eagles have gotten their biggest off-season in years (I say that every year) off to a bang with a huge free agent signing. Me, I've been busy, too. As a result, I continue to find myself inching my way through Michael Chabon's Kavalier and Clay. Yes, I've been reading the book for a month now.
This week, the Playlist hits the two touchdown mark.
With each succeeding album, Wilco has further cemented its reputation as one of the more daring, yet consistently good, rock bands around. With all the attention paid to the last three albums, it's easy to forget their debut A.M. -- a rootsy, alt-country (if that's what you want to call it) gem. But remember, this is an album that was dismissed by many when released (including, in a small part, by leader Jeff Tweedy). Around the same time, Tweedy's former Uncle Tupelo bandmate Jay Farrar and his then-new band Son Volt released their debut -- the instant classic Trace. A.M. is no Trace, but is a solid album and one worth revisiting often, as I did this week. Tweedy's songwriting is more direct, yet still powerful. There are no spiders filling out tax returns. But there is some great Stonesian riffs, banjo and wonderful pedal steel touches. How can you not love an album that brings you both Casino Queen and Passenger Side?
If you're reading this Saturday afternoon, please be sure to check out Wilco tonight on Saturday Night Live -- with host Ellen Page of Juno.
While still on Wilco ....
-- From the set list, it sounded like an incredible show in Philly last week. Why the not-so-stellar review?
-- I have to get the t-shirt below.
-- Recently, the band played a five-night stand in its hometown of Chicago and proceeded to play all the songs it ever put on record.
-- And finally, some sad news. No Depression, whose letter section was named after the A.M. song Box Full of Letters, will cease publication with its May-June issue.
-- And Wilco even makes it into the end of this review of the last Barak-Hillary debate.
Jesus of Cool. Nick Lowe.
The last time I heard many of these songs, I heard them on a cassette tape. And the name of the album wasn't Jesus of Cool (America couldn't handle such a title), but Pure Pop for Now People, which in a way was aptly titled. This reissue really is new wave/pop music at its best -- clever writing and great hooks. Nick Lowe is truly an underappreciated artist. Whether you haven't heard it in years or never heard it, head on over to eMusic and download it.
The Believer Magazine, February 2008.
Last month's issue included the usual array of unique articles -- troubled symbolism of Black History Month, an article about a Russian poet (see this week's Wikipedia link), great book reviews, Nick Hornby's Stuff I've Been Reading and a wonderful article about about fatherhood called The Chaos Machine. But the highlight is the center page spread of bizarre will requests. We all know about Leonna Helmsley leaving her money to her dog. But what about John Orr who deigned that money go each year to the shortest, tallest, youngest and oldest brides married each year in St. Cyrus, Scotland or Robert Louis Stevenson, who left his birthday to a friend born on Christmas.
Some other songs I've been digging this month ...
-- 27 Jennifers, Mike Doughty. Golden Delicious.
-- Plastic Flowers on the Highway, Drive-by Truckers. Southern Rock Opera.
-- Put the Message in the Box, World Party. Goodbye Jumbo