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July 06, 2009 - Image 9

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2009-07-06

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Monday, July 6;,2009
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

19

Indie stars unite
on danceable disc

Wilco is trying to break your heart. COURTESY OFNONESUCH
Wilco (the band)
has a good laugh

By ARTHUR VELEZ
Daily Arts Writer
In today's music world, any pre-
conceived notions of what makes
a hit song have
been completely
left behind by the *
rabid nature ofD
the iTunes, blog-
hype machine LP
that largely con- XL
trols popular
music. No longer
is it necessary for an artist to be
able to sing, play an instrument or
even go on tour. The technological
veil of modern music production
has replaced the emphasis on true
talent and musical prowess.
That being said, what propels
songs to astronomical heights now
depends on the inherent catchi-
ness of a band's single. With no
easily located avenue for writing a
sure-fire hit, it's the general public's
guilty pleasures that have dictated
a song's marketability.
Enter Discovery, averitable indie
super group consisting of Rostam
Batmanglij (Vampire Weekend's
keyboard player) and Wes Miles
(lead singer of Ra Ra Riot).
Batmanglij's retro production
- guilty pleasures abound - that
combines elements of 80's pop,
funk, dub and Auto-Tune-laced
R&B, coupled with Miles's pipes,
humor and willingness makes their
debut album something akin to the
musical version of a buddy flick.
The album starts off at a fevered
pitch, opening with what could

be two of the catchiest songs of
the summer, "Orange Shirt" and
"Osaka Loop Line." The two tracks
are marked by handclaps, hi-hats
and soft synths that come to be the
band's callingcards.
The playful, futuristic nature of
Discovery is obvious in the text-
obsessed lyrics of the first track.
Miles bashes his crush, stating
"Every text that I get from you is so
deliberate," and also pointing out
a pet peeve: "You're never looking
when you type T9."
Sadly, everything goes slightly
downhill after such a grand, dance-
able start. Though the album never
returns to the swagger of the first
few tracks, its mix of popular R&B
and indie credibility lends it an air
of hilarity and makes things all OK.
A fine summer
soundtrack.
The eventual downfall of this
ambitious release is its formu-
laic nature. It seems hastily put
together, which makes sense in
light of the fact that this is merely
a side project for two extremely
active musicians. On paper, Miles
and Batmanglij should be the
poster children for a hybridization
of the blogosphere and American
Top 40, but they can't quite make
it. Rushed as it may be, LP certain-
ly has the makings for a perfectly
fine summer soundtrack.

Vet
it ec
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So
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the n
record
At<
the W
where
comic
much
due to
of co-s
and
strum:
wasw
mostc
- a pi
ing a I
humps
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Milwa
the do
Wik
and st

eran rockers take rent six-man lineup - seventh
in all - and is a series of meticu-
asy, yet still craft lously crafted tracks, albeit with
half-inspired songwriting. From
in, stellar record the album's cover to its title to its
leadoff track "Wilco (The Song)",
By MIKE KUNTZ it appears that Wilco (the tour)
Daily Arts Writer will not be a particularly pensive
or introspective venture. But that
there's a camel with an may not be such a bad thing.
party hat on the cover of Whileit'sdefinitelyaseachange
ew Wilco for a Wilco album to read like a
1. run-through, it's actually refresh-
a time in ing in its lightness. With arguably
ilco camp wilc more to offer than its predecessor
some Sky Blue Sky, the record plays like
relief is Wilco (The a retrospective of tried-and-true
needed - Album) Wilco sounds, from Summerteeth
the death Nonesuch pop to the mid-tempo Rhodes-
ongwriter rockers of Yanpnee Hotel Foxtrot
multi-in- to the barroom wreckage of Being
entalist Jay Bennett, who There. For the first time in a long
ith the band during its while, Jeff Tweedy and company
critically successful period sound like they're comfortable
cture prominently display- right where they are - and they're
Bactrian camel (whose two having fun.
and neck form an apt "W") Lighter rockers "I'll Flight" and
It of a German restaurant in "One Wing" are deceptively sim-
ukee is probably just what ple, while "Solitaire" is a modest
ctor ordered. folk tune with a Nick Drake feel
co (The Album) is the sec- supporting Tweedy's humbled
udio release with the cur- musings: "Took too long to see / I

was wrong to believe in me only."
"Deeper Down" is aClear stand-
out, with dotted harpsichord lines
and guitarist Nels Cline's mas-
terful noodlings filling the voids
betweenverses."Bull Black Nova,"
easily the album's most daring
moment, is a frantic murder bal-
lad with mechanized guitars and
a red-handed Tweedy panicking:
"It's in my head / There's blood
in the sink / I can't calm down / I
can't think."
But where musical innovation
elsewhere on .the album seems
more or less an afterthought, the
album isn't completely without
ambition.
Mostbands admire The Beatles,
though few, if any, ever intention-
ally rip them off as a tip of the hat.
Wilco (The Album) is littered with
Beatles homages, highlighting in
particular the sophisticated yet
playful pop of Abbey Road with its
arrangements, instrumentation
and tone. Though there's plenty of
Steely Dan's Aja and Television's
Marquee Moon to be found as well
- add to that enough compres-
sion and sheen to make Jeff Lynn
See WILCO, Page 10

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