Wilco’s seventh studio LP, Wilco (The Album), channeling its eponymous title, spins as a consolidation of singer / songwriter Jeff Tweedy’s oeuvre. Congealing alt-country, quasi-experimental and neo-folk, the album genre-blazes across the band’s decade and a half creative trajectory.
This article was originally published online on Jul. 8.
NEWPORT, R.I. – The Newport Folk Festival – having endured Dylan’s controversial ’65 burst of electricity, financial turmoil and an addiction to corporate sponsorship – has come a long way from its folksy, populist incarnation of 1959. But at this 50-year benchmark, Newport’s architects have struck gold in grafting the Festival’s roots to anachronistic, serene Fleet Foxes and progressive-folk-rock showmen The Decemberists. Seeger’s even leading a sing-along at age 90, for Pete’s sake.
Wilco’s seventh studio LP, Wilco (The Album), channeling its eponymous title, spins as a consolidation of singer / songwriter Jeff Tweedy’s oeuvre. Congealing alt-country, quasi-experimental and neo-folk, the album genre-blazes across the band’s decade-and-a-half creative trajectory.
Dig bright, catchy, Beatles-esque lyrics? Groove out to ELO’s symphonic prog rock? How’s a virtually private show sound? Right, so get to the Slope early.
Long before the Pussycat Dolls showcase their ample assets and Asher Roth confesses his inclination towards America’s university system, the Apples in Stereo, ripe with tight, riveting, relevant tunes, will rock the Slope’s punctual arrivals with a premium blend of neo-classic rock and power pop. The American rockers, veterans of six LPs, notched a spot on Rolling Stone’s Top 50 of 2007 with New Magnetic Wonder, a 14 track album linked seamlessly by 10 musical segues.
Lunging forward from her 2006 gem Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, Neko Case tosses a golden egg our way with Middle Cyclone, the masterpiece promised by her previous four studio albums. Concurrently immersed in cerebral contemplation and frantic, visceral verve, the queen of alt-country seduces us with her atmospheric, luscious vocals.
Richly layering impressionistic narrative fragments, lush orchestral arrangements and infectiously catchy hooks, A.C. Newman hurled Castaways crowd into his cavernous, maximalist realm of Power Pop.
Newman wasted little time in warming the souls of the rain-drenched audience on Tuesday night, leading off with the triumphant, self-reflective, “There Are Maybe Ten Or Twelve.” Echoing electric guitar gelled with rhythmic, playful shaker, as Newman cautioned, “There are maybe ten or twelve things I can teach you / After that your on your own.” Delicate violin finger picking showered the verse with droplets of sobering rain — “Make of that what you will.”
Deftly merging exotic instrumentation with cascading waves of lyrical audacity, Devendra Banhart hatches Surfing, the debut album of his anticipated project, Megapuss. Collaborating with multi-instrumentalist Greg Rogove and Neil Young’s label Vapor Records, the Prince of Psych Folk chases Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon with his sixth LP in as many years. Bizarrely titled leadoff track “Crop Circle Jerk ’94” showcases Devendra’s velvety warble (“You know I used to see fire in the sky, now I see rainbows”) atop a precise, titillating Stratocaster.
Buzzing neon brewsky logos and a bouquet of pool cue chalk immediately propel the stuffy Castaways of Ithaca to the über-echelon of hipster credibility for folksy, soulful rockers Delta Spirit. Drawn to Ithaca by local promoter Dan Smalls, rising stars Delta Spirit treated the two hundred in attendance to a personal and intimate set of tight, relevant, lyrically rich indie rock. For those unable to brave the perilous weather, the concert was broadcast live on WICB 91.7 FM: “The Station For Innovation.”
Storming the florally adorned set of the State Theatre Friday evening, Toronto based indie pop group Stars immediately brought four fifths of the crowd to their feet. Building a swirling hurricane with golden organ and tin-laced percussion; the velvety vocal of Amy Millan weaved the band’s inaugural track.
Permitting audiophiles scarcely a week to savor 2008’s independent folk revival (Fleet Foxes and Blitzen Trapper each made Rolling Stone’s top 20), Vetiver inaugurated the 2009 campaign with an early release of the band’s fourth LP, Tight Knit. Though the San Francisco band has been laying down rich, layered harmonies drenched in irresistibly precise guitar riffs since their self-titled debut in 2004, Tight Knit is Vetiver’s first team-up with prolific Seattle label Subpop, a move that lets the group develop, master and distribute their tunes on a well-respected indie-music purveyor.