Tuesday, May 15, 2007

New Releases Today: Wilco + The Remains

I'm going to head to my local record shop today to pick up a new release and a reissue. I was somewhat relieved to discover that I can buy the new Wilco album, Sky Blue Sky, without the secret shame of feeling like an old man trying to be hip, because according to the young whippersnappers at Pitchfork, Wilco are no longer cool. In fact, Wilco are now so uncool they make "dad-rock." This is a welcome development for me, because I had to pay a 16-year old skater kid $5 bucks to pick up A Ghost Is Born for me while I waited in a back-alley behind the record store hoping no one from my son's preschool spotted me. No need to do that for this release. I can just pull my minivan up the curb, waltz into the record store and order a heaping helping of dad-rock, Wilco-style. What a relief.

The reissue is one of the great overlooked albums from the 60s: The Remains (later known as Barry & The Remains). This is a fantastic garage rock album that includes the wonderful "Don't Look Back," which was a highlight of the original Nuggets compilation, and penned by Billy Vera (yes, that Billy Vera). Leader Barry Tashian later showed up on Gram Parson's first solo album, and drummer N.D. Smart II went on to play with Parsons in the International Submarine Band, as well as on Grievous Angel. Smart also played drums for Mountain, Great Speckled Bird, and The Hello People (yes, those Hello People).


Pete Bilderback said...

Just listened to the new Wilco with my 10-month-old daughter asleep on my stomache--the ultimate "dad-rock" experience! On first listen I'd say it sounds like a great album.

Also, looking through my collection I see N.D. Smart played on the Gram Parsons & the Fallen Angels Live 1973 album, and on the Hello People's 1974 The Handsome Devils. Life is funny, one day you're touring with Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris, the next you're in mime make-up touring with The Hello People. And the really heavy irony is that The Hello People were actually the more commercially successful venture at the time. I'd love to talk to the guy.

Anonymous said...

The Wilco album is Really Mellow, which I was not expecting. Kind of an Asylum Records kind of vibe. Cool.

Pete Bilderback said...

Yes, it is mellow, in a good way I think. The album has a very organic vibe to it.

On the bonus DVD the band discusses how the album was recorded live in the studio mostly without overdubs. It gives the album a very cohesive sound, it's easy to imagine this being the product of guys playing together live in the studio. Interestingly, the "live-in-the-studio" takes filmed for the DVD do not sound significantly different than the album takes. That is entirely to the album's credit.

I like how Wilco doesn't repeat themselves without seeming schizophrenic. Also, unlike A Ghost is Born, there are no tracks that are obviously meant to be skipped.

Anonymous said...

I saw Wilco, live and onstage, a few years back and they were powerhouse. They sounded huge without being overly loud. I would imagine just setting up the mics and getting out of the way would be the best way to record such a persuasive band.

Spiritualized were amazing, too. They played forever.