Having broken open the Wilco mold on 1996′s Being There, Jeff Tweedy went all-in with the exuberant pop tendencies of his new compatriot Jay Bennett on Summerteeth. Perhaps because the band’s 1998 collaboration with Billy Bragg on the Woody Guthrie project Mermaid Avenue had played up their roots-folk inclinations, they seemed eager to push in an entirely different direction on this 1999 disc, which largely closed the door on their alt-country/Uncle Tupelo past. Fiddle and pedal steel are supplanted by keyboards and synthesizer; most of the tunes are Tweedy/Bennett co-writes, with bassist John Stirratt also having a hand in a few. Buoyant choruses abound, from “A Shot In The Arm” to “Nothing’severgonnastandinmyway” to “ELT.” They pull out all the stops on “Pieholden Suite,” a Jimmy Webb-esque tour de force complete with horns and synthesized strings. But the album’s heart is “Via Chicago,” an elusive, swirling odyssey of melody and noise that feeds off the creative energy of the band’s adopted hometown. Not everything is so aggressively modern: “When You Wake Up Feeling Old” is a jaunty throwback that might have fit well musically on the Mermaid album, while the bonus track “Candyfloss” has a carnival-calliope charm. Viewed in context with Wilco’s oeuvre, Summerteeth could be considered the band’s Revolver: a pop-phase pinnacle, with a full-scale game-changer looming just over the horizon.
By Peter Blackstock on 09.26.11 in Icons
It's a tribute to leader Jeff Tweedy's enduring commitment to artistic rebirth and reinvention that one could listen to Wilco's 1995 debut A.M. and its Grammy-winning 2004 album A Ghost Is Born back to back and have no i...
By Marc Hogan on 01.13.15 in News
Time to double-check those "Most Anticipated Albums of 2015" lists. The year began on an ambitious note led by PJ Harvey, and this week brought chances to stream a couple of the most eagerly awaited albums along with new...
By Marc Hogan on 12.19.14 in News
Well, Nation, that's it. Stephen Colbert has moved on from The Colbert Report, after nine brilliant years. He sent it off in his own singular style, though, and — despite Kendrick Lamar's appearance earlier this week as...
By Laura Leebove on 12.17.14 in Features
On crying at shows, impossibly high expectations and making songs Mean Something