The Deep Racks Report: “A.M.”

Originally posted 2009-02-21 20:20:16. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

We’ve all heard the term “deep track,” used to refer to songs that do not receive much (or any) commercial radio airplay.  This series is dedicated to going deep into the CD racks to bring you brief but focused reports on ALBUMS that have not received as much commercial or critical attention as they should.

RELATED LAPTOP SESSIONS:  Chris – “Box Full of Letters”

A.M. by Wilco

This is an album that seems to get universally hated on.  It is Wilco’s first album, released in 1995 following the breakup of the alt.country band Uncle Tupelo.  All of Tupelo’s members except Jay Farrar became Wilco and proceeded to record an album of songs that sound very similar to Tupelo’s work with one significant difference — they sound somewhat more together, less raw than your average Uncle Tupelo tracks.

Reception?  Well, fans and critics alike appear to have agreed that Jay Farrar’s new band, Son Volt, released a superior debut album.  To be fair, I have only heard selected tracks from the Son Volt release and I do understand the inevitability of comparisons between Son Volt and Wilco.  Still, I haven’t been overly impressed with what I’ve heard from Son Volt.  (Please, send your letters and complaints care of Chris at Laptop Sessions!)  Yes, A.M. is a pretty simple rock record.  No, songs like “I Must Be High” and “Passenger Side” aren’t going to win any lyrical accolades with lines like “You’re pissed that you missed the very last kiss” and “You’re gonna make me spill my beer if you don’t learn how to steer,” respectively.  Even Jeff Tweedy expressed disatisfaction with the straightforwardness of the record, and he was among the first to suggest that this was Wilco “treading some water with a perceived audience.”

Okay, but it’s a fun record!  Anyone who is familiar with Wilco’s catalog now knows that, from the second album on, the band became progressively more experimental and interested in making great records.  A.M. is breath of fresh rock’n roll air!  Not until 2007’s Sky Blue Sky would their sound be as compositionally straightforward again, and as much as I love all the albums in between, isn’t the cliche “variety is the spice of life”?  I never skip these tracks when they come up on random and I continue to be drawn in by tracks like the catchy “Box Full of Letters,” the heart-breaking “Should’ve Been in Love,” and the haunting “Dash 7.”  (I’m excited that I finally figured out that “Dash 7” refers to, as Wikipedia states, “The de Havilland Canada DHC-7 [airplane], popularly known as the Dash 7.”)

So, contrary to the press it received, I would highly recommend you pick up a copy of A.M. today.  It’s not their best album, but who cares?  And please, for crying out loud, ignore the genre nonsense altogether — alt.country, country rock, rock’n roll, alternative rock??? — and just enjoy the music!

“Box Full of Letters” (Wilco Cover)

Originally posted 2008-12-18 23:39:11. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

Hello and welcome to yet another all-new Laptop Session at your web blog for a session-a-day, guaranteed through December 31st, 2008. Now, that guarantee is swiftly running out, but don’t fret. We’ll be introducing a new schedule of performances for 2009 that will not only introduce many new types of posts to the blog on a regular basis, but also maintain a steady and prolific stream of new cover song music videos!

But, let’s focus on the present for now…

I had originally intended to record a Christmas song tonight, but I got busy with napping, fast food eating, Christmas shopping, and TNA Impact! viewing, so I decided to pull out my one and only “backup video.” If I haven’t already, I should introduce this video by announcing my desire to record a cover video for at least one song from each Wilco album. I’ve been listening to this band a lot these past several months, picking up their albums one by one as I find them on sale or used. I’ve already recorded a song from their third studio album, Summerteeth, called “How to Fight Loneliness” — that video is posted in the members only area of this blog (scroll down to the bottom to sign in and/or sign up!). Previous to that, I recorded “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” from their critically acclaimed fourth album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. This was a great song — easy to learn, fun to memorize the lyrics for the performance, and I even got a compliment from a former student who watched the video!

Last week, I picked up a copy of their subsequent album, A Ghost is Born. Ironically, I’m listening to that album now and — literally the moment I typed the title of the album (!) — I just heard Tweedy singing “a ghost is born…,” which is in the lyrics to the song “Theologians.” I don’t think that A Ghost is Born is as impressive an album as Foxtrot or as rocking and enjoyable an album as Summerteeth, but I’m warming to it. There’s a great deal of experimentation, particularly on the 15-minute penultimate track “Less Than You Think.”

But I’m not quite ready to record a song from that album yet, so I went back to the first Wilco album, A.M., which is the final album that I own thus far. This album was more of a straightforward country rock effort, reminiscent of their predecessor Uncle Tupelo. Tweedy himself doesn’t sound all that impressed with the album, but I think it’s actually the most upbeat of the Wilco albums I own. It’s certainly the best album to listen to in the car!

This is my version of the single from the album, titled “Box Full of Letters.” I don’t know what it is about this song — something about the combination of the guitar hooks, lower lead vocal that resonates, and the catchy chorus — but I love it.

And it puts me one step closer to having recorded one song from each album!

When I return next week, I’ll have three sessions for the week — barring unforeseen difficulties, I’ll be bringing you three holiday-themed songs to finish out the season for me (musically, at least).

Thanks for reading and watching, and don’t forget to hurry back tomorrow and the next day for great videos from Jeff and Jim. They’ll be “slapping yourself in the face to make sure you’re not dreaming” good!

See you next session!