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Old 02-02-2009, 11:16 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Toronto, Ontario
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Summerteeth (Reprise; 1998)

  • Jeff Tweedy – vocals, guitar, synthesizer, bass guitar, harmonica, tambourine, backing vocals
  • Jay Bennett – organ, synthesizer, banjo, percussion, piano, drums, guitar, keyboards, tambourine, bells, lap steel guitar, backing vocals
  • John Stirratt – bass guitar, backing vocals
  • Ken Coomer – drums, tympani
  • Leroy Bach – piano
  • Dave Crawford – trumpet
  • Mark Greenberg – vibraphone

Listen to the album here.

Summerteeth is so sexy. The whole album is drenched in mystery, darkness, sarcasm and catharsis. This is Jeff Tweedy at his lyrical bravest. In Via Chicago, one of the album’s strongest songs, Tweedy sings, “I dreamed about killing you again last night, and it felt alright to me/ dying on the banks of Embarcadero skies, I sat and watched you bleed/ Buried you alive in a fireworks display raining down on me/ Your cold, hot blood ran away from me, to the sea.” Couple that with Tweedy’s stance on God on “Can’t Stand It” and his sadism on “She’s A Jar” and what you get is their most daring album yet. Sexy is also the album’s production, which makes Wilco sound nothing like they did on A.M three years prior. They perfected the slight psychedelia of Being There, took away anything that resembled alternative country, and really came into their own. Two posts ago I said that A.M is their most accessible album. Summerteeth definitely challenges this. Not only is each of the first seven tracks better than anything on A.M, the entire album is much more memorable.

One of the gems in the album, a song so surprising lyrically it immediately became my favourite song in the playlist, is Pieholden Suite. Whereas most of the album is kind of dark, Pieholden Suite surprises and delights by completely derailing and becoming positively nostalgic. The song starts as sad as anything else on the past three albums, but then Tweedy travels back in time to sing one perfect verse, “In the beginning we closed our eyes/ whenever we kissed we were surprised to find so much inside”, after which the song opens and builds up like a blue sky after rain. It’s a delight to listen to, but it’s often unfairly overlooked.

In continuation with the Radiohead comparison, A.M = Pablo Honey, Being There = The Bends, but Summerteeth isn’t OK Computer. If anything it’s their The Bends take two.

Although A.M is their easiest to listen to, Summerteeth is the most rewarding of the 90s releases.

Start from Summerteeth.
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