Watch Wilco Perform New Song “Someone To Lose”

wilcocolbertLast week Wilco released their 10th studio album Schmilco, and to be completely honest, after a couple of listens I don’t quite know what to make of it yet. I am going to reserve judgment until it seeps in a little bit more.

It is always hard to come to conclusions on a new album from a band that actively seeks to challenge and confound fans with every new offering. There’s a definite contrariness baked into the DNA of Wilco and its elusive front man Jeff Tweedy, and I think that’s a good thing. You’ve got to put in the time and the effort to really appreciate these guys.

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Certainly Schmilco is a big departure from their 2015 album Star Wars. Gone is the edgy energy and angular three-guitar attacks, replaced by the rounder edges of a mostly acoustic sound. But it doesn’t matter if they are bringing wall-of-sound noise rock or soft-as-a-whisper ballads, there’s a richness to Wilco music that sometimes only reveals itself on closer inspection.

There are two distinct factors at play here. One is Tweedy’s brilliant songwriting. He has a unique talent for taking familiar Rock melodies and chord patterns and cobbling them together into something new. Seemingly simple songs sometimes turn out to be an array of deftly arranged sections that only seem simple. And while his lyrics can sometimes be obtuse and nonsensical, they can also deliver powerful messages and feelings in unorthodox ways.

The other source of Wilco’s richness is the astounding musicianship of the band. Led by guitarist Nels Cline and drummer Glen Kotche, I think this is the most talented group of musicians in Rock today. It is the perfect collection of musicians for a songwriter like Tweedy. The band has a way of elevating and bringing shades of meaning to his songs that few other musicians could.

All of this becomes more apparent when you see the band perform live. I never really “got” their biggest albums, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and A Ghost Is Born, until I saw the band perform them in concert, and then I was hooked. A light goes on when you see these particular songs performed by these particular musicians. It all starts to make sense.

And so it went the other night when I saw Wilco play this song on Colbert’s Late Show. What seemed at first to be just another song from the new album suddenly became something that seemed pretty good to me. Watch the band members make just the right contributions when needed. Listen for the meaningless meaningfulness of Tweedy’s lyrics:

And if I hold you too tight
Someone else won’t get to
Oh, wouldn’t you know it?
I keep it rolling
Considering no one
Punching a path
Facing the blast and the moon and the math
But you still never know where your soul is attached

I’m pretty sure I’m going to really like this album, but I may have to wait to see them perform it live before i’m totally convinced.

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