If mellow is for you, you’ll love Wilco’s latest, ‘The Whole Love’

Waiting to listen to a new record from Wilco is always exciting for me.

There is always a lot of anticipation among Wilco fans, because we never know what the band is going to do next.

I have been a fan of Wilco from the time it released its debut “A.M.” in 1995, about a year after Uncle Tupelo disbanded.

Son Volt was the other band that came out of that breakup as the two main songwriters Jay Farrar, who formed Son Volt, and Jeff Tweedy decided to go separate ways.

“A.M.” is a wonderful CD, with 13 catchy country/pop/rock songs, and all but one are under three-minutes long and don’t stray very far from the Uncle Tupelo sound that Tweedy helped develop.

This still is one of my favorite Wilco records with great songs such as “Casino Queen,” “I Must be High” and “Box Full of Letters.”

On the cover of the CD is a picture of an AM radio. Looking back, it must have been a hint as to Tweedy’s infatuation with electronics.

Wilco’s second album, “Being There” from 1996, is where the band began to stretch the boundaries and challenge the rules of rock ‘n’ roll.

“Being There” is a wonderful two-CD set that finds Tweedy and the band exploring their influences from the past, all the while setting a new direction for the band and its “genre” of music, mixing psychedelic, panoramic, pop rock with hints of the Beatles and Rolling Stones.

By the time “Summer Teeth” was released in 1999, Wilco was not much of a country rock band any longer. In fact, the CD is a pop rock masterpiece with Wilco resetting the boundaries of modern day rock ‘n’ roll adding shades of the Band and the Beach Boys to its ever evolving sound.

“Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” was Wilco’s breakout album in 2002 and its biggest seller at the time and was followed by “A Ghost is Born” in 2004. This was the first time Wilco released two “similar” sounding recordings in succession with “Ghost” having a warmer and more refined sound than its predecessor.

“Sky Blue Sky” from 2007 and “Wilco” from 2009 sound to me like a mix of “A.M.” and “Being There” to an updated 1970s era California country rock sound and feature guitarist Nels Cline, who adds a new dimension to Wilco’s sound. These are possibly Wilco’s most accessible recordings to date.

“The Whole Love” is the title of the new Wilco album and, like all of their others, it took more than a few listens for the record to grow on me. But grow on me it has, and in a big way.

My son Matthew said it was “pretty mellow” and for the most part he is right. There are 12 great songs on the disc, 16 if you get the version with the bonus disc. “Art of Almost,” the first track, is an expansive seven-plus minute track that opens with a distorted drum solo and moves gradually toward a rocking psychedelic finish.

“I Might” is a ‘60s retro rocker with a Ray Manzarek/The Doors-era organ taking center stage.

“Capitol City” sounds like a song the Beatles would do if they were still together, with the Lennon-esque vocals all the way down to the vocal overdubs. You have to hear that one.

“Dawned on Me,” “Whole Love” and “Open Mind” are all great songs and I am still discovering more.

“The Whole Love” is, in my opinion, Wilco’s best record since “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” with the potential to be even better.

I know I will keep listening.

Rock Cesario owns Triple Play Records, 530 Main St., and hosts “Acoustic Sunday” from 9 a.m. to noon Sunday on Drive 105.3 FM. Email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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